Lago di Garda is 55 km long. Between 4 and 12 km wide. It covers the area of 370 km2. Why am I even bringing that up? Well, to enlighten you how big it is and how impossible it is to see everything in one day. So here’s what you should do and what we should have done. Divide it to east side and west side. Let’s start with the west side – more popular, more crowded. More interesting? We’ll see in the next post.
THE place to be, so you can expect EVERYONE there. Literally everyone. Our first attempt to visit Sirmione ended with a big escape from it. The town is located on a peninsula and, how it usually happens on peninsulas, there’s only one roda there. We came to Sirmione on Sunday and it was the worst of all Sundays – Italian long weekend. Have you ever seen a several dozen meters long line to the parkometer? I have.
Attempts no. 2 and 3 were waaaaay better and explained the crowds. Sirmione is incredibly picturesque. A medieval castle on the water, which was actually a port fortification, beautiful buildings, Roman ruins which were someone’s home. Unfortunately we haven’t seen the ruins (crowds), but walking around Sirmione was really nice. Even when there’s no landscape. No landscape situation can also be picturesque.
We left the car in a (free) parking lot before we have reached the city center. But there was water. And a promenade! Along the lake! All the way to the center of Desenzano. And you could feel like you were at the seaside. We went to the city center, main square and a port. And that’s the scheme we were following in each town and we weren’t bored. Desenzano was a holiday destination in Roman times and you can see a Roman holiday home there – Villa Romana.
Roca di Manerba
We wouldn’t have even considered going to Roca di Manerba if it wasn’t for my Italian friend, who recommended it to us. And she was right (thanks, Laura!). We arrived in the evening, there was a storm coming, so we didn’t have a chance to walk around, but it was worth it! There was a Minerva temple in ancient times, then a Medieval castle and now you can climb the remains of it, look at the lake, at Isola del Garda and other islands.
Sunday traffic forced us to verify our plans. We simply couldn’t see everything. We skipped Salo and went straight to Gardone Riviera. It wasn’t a bad choice, because it definitely has something you can’t find in other towns – belle epoque hotels.
Another town, another one on the list of my favourites. Here’s where you can find abandoned limonaie, streets are getting more narrow and the landscape is more mountainous. We left the car with no expectations and we certainly would have never thought that Gargnano can be so charming. Ok, this may be Gargnano gelato speaking, but the town itself is pretty! And yes, they have Gargnano flavoured gelato – gelateria in the port, next to the souvenir shop.
Limone sul Garda
Another THE place to be, probably even more popular than Sirmione. Full of lemons and limonaie. Located at the foot of the mountain which gives you vertigo when you look up. We followed everyone to limonaie and even if you’re not into orchards and growing lemons and oranges, it’s worth spending these 2 EUR to see views like this:
Riva del Garda
Maybe we were tired, maybe it was the traffic or maybe it was the MTB festival, or maybe everything at once, but Riva del Garda didn’t make it to my favourites list. Views are spectacular, something like Norwegian fjords. The end of the lake, a beach, mountains and a park. Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka used to come here for holidays. And I’m not surprised, because it’s something like being at the seaside and in the Alps at the same time. But these crowds…
The very beginning of our tour di Garda proved that one day is not enough to go around the lake and see everything. One road, Italians on holidays and we had to review our plans several times. Maybe it all turned out good, because we have a good reason to come back. To Salo, to Gardone Riviera to see Vittoriale degli Italiani, drive Strada della Forra, climb Monte Baldo and see all the places which are outside the pretty towns.