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Lake Garda Western Side: the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque

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Lake Garda Western Side: the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque

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Lake Garda Western Side: the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque

This itinerary is best completed in two or three days; you can select from a list of Lake Garda hotels for a stay characterized by relaxation and charm. Those who prefer a different lodging solution can stay in a comfortable bed & breakfast or apartment on Lake Garda. The itinerary wends its way through the most fascinating scenery of Italy, the western shore of Lake Garda, called the Riviera dei Limoni, which has fascinated poets and writers such as Catullo, Joyce, Goethe and D’Annunzio. The south side of the lake is characterized by gentle hills. This is the birthplace of some of Brescia's most famous wines, such as Lugana, white, and Garda Classico, white, red or rosé. As one climbs gradually towards the north, the landscape becomes increasingly harsh and severe until reaching the steep walls at the north end of the lake.

Sirmione is located on a narrow peninsula that extends about 4 km into Lake Garda, one of the most enchanting places on the lake, and where one can enjoy a splendid view of the two shores. It is worth visiting the Rocca Scaligera which was built in 1250 by Mastino I della Scala, Lord of Verona, as a fortress to protect the lake and a landing for the fleet. You enter the town over a drawbridge and can follow the narrow lanes of the center to the archeological site at the end of the peninsula. The Grotte di Catullo are one of the most interesting archeological areas in Italy: olives and cypress trees surround the remains of a large imperial age villa; it is the largest, best preserved villa in Northern Italy.

Desenzano was an important lake port in Roman times. Its center opens on to the large with a charming little port and rich palazzi overlook the large piazzas and pedestrian-only streets. The village has a strong Venetian imprint: in fact, the "Serenissima" took possession of Desenzano in the 15th century, making it an important commercial center. A maze of narrow lanes rise towards the medieval castello , constructed in the 10th century to protect against barbarian incursions.

The road rises towards Salò through a lovely hill area called Valteniesi. In Moniga; we recommend a brief visit to the castello, on the best preserved on the southern shore of Lake Garda.

Salò is an elegant resort on the shores of a splendid bay. In was founded in Roman times with the name of Salodium. Its old town center is a true jewel, a tight labyrinth of lanes and small piazzas crowned with a splendid lakeside promenade. We recommend a visit to the Duomo, constructed in the 15th century in a late Gothic style, with many important works inside; in addition, its worth seeing the Palazzo della Magnifica Patria and the Palazzo del Podestà.

In Gardone Riviera, you will experience the atmosphere of a late 19th-century resort, where the nobility and bourgeoisie of all Europe selected this resort to relax in its aristocratic residences. Gardone has an especially mild climate that has allowed the area to be transformed into a true botanical garden, where citrus trees, cypresses and olive trees coexist with palms, citrons and agaves. Gardone di Sotto is the center of society life with cafés, stores and fin-de-siècle hotels. Gardone di Sopra has the Vittoriale, the museum-residence of the eclectic poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio. It is an extraordinary abundance of Art Nouveau buildings surrounded by a large park that the poet built between 1920 and 1938 to house the mementos of his life: works of art, antique books and rare and precious objects.

Gargnano is the favorite port of sail boaters. The winds always blow strong in this area of Lake Garda: it is no accident that the most important regatta on internal European waters, the Centomiglia, takes place here.

Tignale and Tremosine are located on the lake's plateau and hinterland and provide one of the most beautiful views of the lake. They are small villages surrounded by tableland greenery planted with olive and fruit trees. There is a stunning route along the lakeshore road that goes to Tremosine running along the deep ravine of the Brasa torrent. Don't miss the Terrazza del brivido (terrace of shivers), suspended 350 meters above the lake.

Limone - citrons and lemons are grown here, thanks to the mild climate it has had since time immemorial. Today, the area lives solely on tourism and many lemon-houses have been abandoned, but the unmistakable terracing for their cultivation has become a definitive element of the landscape.

The itinerary ends in Riva del Garda, a picturesque town with an ancient look. The city is a busy tourist area with a good selection of hotels, restaurants and many opportunities for sports and entertainment. The central piazza is very lovely, surrounded by Lombardy-Venetian style buildings. The most important city monument is the Rocca Scaligera, a castle built by the Veronese Della Scala family in 1124.

Photos courtesy of: Provincia di Brescia – Assessorato Turismo, Comune di Brescia – Servizio Turismo

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