Holiday at Lake Garda
This area offers something for everyone, as well as the chance to discover the history, culture and flavours that define Northern Italy. This destination is a must-see, thanks to the numerous holiday promotions for Lake Garda.
Located between Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige, Lake Garda borders the Alps to the north, where it wedges into the mountains. Indeed the north side of the lake is long, narrow and surrounded by peaks (most of which belong to the Baldo Range). To the south it widens onto the Po Valley, stretching out between the hills and gulfs of Peschiera on one bank and of Desenzano on the opposite bank. Lake Garda is divided into four large areas, each with its own special qualities, making it one-of-a-kind. The northern-most part is Garda Trentino. Moving clockwise you then have the Riviera degli Olivi to the east, Bresciana in the direction of the Po Valley and the Riviera dei Limoni to the west.
Desenzano is the best place to start out to admire the scenery, as it's the easiest city to reach on your journey to discover the region. Wonderful restaurants and high-end boutiques make this city perfect for both long and short stays. From Desenzano you can easily visit all the other cities on the lake by boat. Although Desenzano is one of the larger lake cities, the historic centre still rises around the old small harbour, surrounded by historic buildings like the Palazzo del Provveditore and the the former Palazzo Comunale (city hall), both dating back to the 16th century. The ruins of an ancient castle with quadrangular tower overlook the city from the heights. The Church of Santa Maria Maddalena is also noteworthy. The Riviera Bresciana features other beautiful views and evocative villages like Sirmione (famous for its location, the Scaligera Fortress and the Sirmione Castle) and Padenghe. Here we recommend visiting the nearby Medieval Castle and the Church of Sant'Emiliano. Manerba del Garda, near Rocca Park, is another well-known summer destination, thanks to the S. Biagio Island, better known as Isola dei Conigli ("Rabbit Island").
The western part of Lake Garda is home to that strip of little villages between Limone sul Garda and Salò, and its name in fact comes from the cultivation of the lemon. Tignale and its six hamlets are absolutely worth a stop to visit the Montecastello Sanctuary, just below the summit of Monte Cas. The Alto Garda Bresciano Park and Tremosine are in the highlands and valleys of this area, stretching to Campione. Situated along the shores of a deep inlet, Salò faces the lake, protected by hills covered with cypresses and olive groves where you can admire the Palazzo della Magnifica Patria, the old town hall and the Duomo, the largest cathedral on Lake Garda. As you walk through the city you discover the villas and architecture which date back to the Italian Social Republic of Salò, like the Art Nouveau-style villas, Villa Simonini and Villa Amadei, finally arriving at the Casa del Fascio on the lakefront. Gardone is also lovely, known above all for the Vittoriale, the variety of its prestigious 20th-century residences and the Hruska Botanical Gardens.
At the foot of the Alps, Garda Trentino unveils a more mountainous setting. Olive and lemon groves give way to alpine flowers where Riva del Garda and Torbole guard the northernmost point of Benàco. Riva's main square, Piazza Tre Novembre, opens onto the silvery lake and the port tucked up against the picturesque old city. Be sure to visit Palazzo Pretorio, Casa del Comune and Aponnale Tower on the eastern side of the square. Arco, in the north of the plains of northern Lake Garda, is at the end of the valley, dominating from on high with its medieval castle and bestowing a breath-taking view. The Collegiata dell'Assunta awaits you in the city's main square.
Lastly, the eastern shore of Lake Garda is called the Riviera degli Olivi. Olives have been grown for here centuries amidst a landscape full of inlets, fortresses and castles. Near the port of Malcesine you'll find Palazzo dei Capitani, dating back to the Republic of Venice, and the Church of Santo Stefano. Thanks to the cableway, in just a few minutes you can go from the olive groves to the peak of Mount Baldo, enjoying the majestic view of the lake and experiencing the mountains with a plethora of excursions to choose from. Farther on, you reach the Gulf of Garda with its castle and ancient fortress that are worth a visit, both for the Gothic buildings along the lakefront and for the beautiful Palazzo del Capitano del Lago, where the Fishermen's Association used to meet. Bardolino, Peschiera del Garda and Torri del Benaco complete the area's unique offerings. Peschiera has played an important role in Garda's history with its two principle monuments - the Rocca (Fortress) and the Comando del Presidio - products of military art. Instead in Torri, visit the Scaligero Castle with its ethnographic museum, the Church of the Santissima Trinità (Holy Trinity), and if you love art, Ca’ Turrini and Palazzo Mari.
The traditions and rich artistic heritage of these places are just waiting to be discovered. Castles, valleys and little harbours nestled between the gulfs and shores of the lake are the perfect backdrop for water sports, excursions, wine and food tours and city tours, meeting all of the tourist's expectations. Booking a last minute holiday at Lake Garda means discovering and enjoying the colours and aromas typical of Northern Italy which you absolutely can't miss.