As The Grazie Girl, I’m always planning my next vacation in Italy. And where have I been? Well, I’m going to boast a little now. I’ve visited Venice, Florence, Rome, many towns and villages throughout Tuscany with my favorite being Lucca, Sorrento, Positano and several other towns along the Amalfi Coast, Sicily with my favorite town being Taormina, and Cinque Terre. Where else do I want to go? My goal is to explore all of Italy to find the place I’d like to settle for half of the year when I retire from my “day job” as high school English teacher. So in my quest to experience all of Italy, I’ve recently returned from the northern region — Lake Garda.
Most people aim to go to Lake Como, hoping to catch a glimpse of George Clooney. And I wouldn’t be opposed to that myself. But I wanted something a little more cost efficient. My cousins were traveling to Germany for a family event, and they actually were the ones who selected Lake Garda. We planted ourselves in the mid-sized town of Gargnano, located halfway up Lake Garda’s western side. “Gargnano offers visitors a striking setting full of art and history, with its historic villas, palazzos, beautiful churches, gardens, and lemon groves. Gargnano is also the sailing capital of Lake Garda, [with the nearby] hamlet of Bogliaco [as] the starting point each September for the prestigious Centomiglia International Regatta, the most important yacht race on Italian lakes” (Visit Garda).
Gargnano is also the setting for the burgeoning mountains that surround the lake, felt mostly as you walk around the town. Like most places in Italy, I suggest training on a stairclimber before you go to attack those cobblestoned inclines littered with standing tourists trying to catch their breath. Of course the Italians pass by with no problem. So be prepared. Regardless, Gargnano offers many lakefront dining establishments in the old village. Despite the remarkably large amounts of German tourists, you are reminded you are in Italy because of the surrounding Mediterranean landscape, groups of people sitting at outdoor cafes watching soccer games on large televisions, and, of course, every single person walking in the piazza with a gelato cone in hand.
–The beauty of the lake itself.
–Our accommodations. I stayed at the 3-star Hotel Villa Europa and my cousins stayed at the hotel’s sister residence complex, Resort Fondo La Campagnola, which is across the street from the hotel. The complex offers very clean accommodations, absolutely beautiful views of the lake, a delicious breakfast and snacks, and help with whatever you want to plan for your stay. The hotel’s proprietors, Silvana and Liliana, are wonderful!
–The fresh, straight from the lake, fish delicacies at the many restaurants.
–A pool surrounded by luscious landscaping with lemon and fig trees. The hotel’s groundskeeper would pick figs everyday and offer them to anyone sitting by the pool. I felt like a queen.
There really aren’t too many. If I were planning the trip I might not have chosen Gargnano. It IS absolutely beautiful, but it is also somewhat isolated being at the middle of the lake. If you do not have a car, it is not that easy to get around. And if you like to take day excursions like I do, there really aren’t any offered from Gargnano. You will have to get to a town farther south on the lake — Sirmione would be the choice. As well, I would research where you would stay and consider that in terms of airports. Lake Garda is not only the largest but it is the most eastern lake in the Lake District of Northern Italy. So you need to consider transportation. I flew into Milan, and if you are going to Lake Como the distance is fine. But I was of course going to Lake Garda. From the Milan airport I took a car service, which was recommended by my hotel, to the hotel, which took two hours. There are smaller airports closer to Lake Garda, but you cannot fly direct on an international flight. So consider all of this when traveling to Lake Garda.
So these are my thoughts on Lake Garda, and while there are some issues, I would still recommend the trip. I have created several photo diaries of the many facets of Lake Garda for your enjoyment and information. I suggest taking a look at them to get the real feel.
Ciao for now … THE GRAZIE GIRL ❤️