Thursday, October 18, 2018

September Beach of the Month: Lago di Garda, Italy

Lago di Garda, Italy - or Lake Garda - was one of my favorite stops on our recent European jaunt. Located in the Italian Lakes region in Northern Italy, Lake Garda is one of five major lakes which also includes Lake Como, Maggiore, Lugano and Iseo. The region is sprinkled with towns that are straight out of a fairy tale and lakeside villas built on the rock outcroppings. Throw in a few sailboats and an aperol spritz and you've got a little piece of heaven.

The Beaches
First things first - this was the only piece of sand I managed to land on in September. Only it wasn't really sand but more like tiny pebbles. Lake Garda actually has more than ten beaches - it's a really big lake - and the one I went to was Spiaggia Fonte Torrente San Giovanni. That's alot of words for "the public beach outside of the town of Limone" We walked to the beach and walked amongst the pebbles then put our feet in the cool, clear water. There were a few people enjoying the water but most were lounging in chairs along the coastline. There were public restrooms and it was a very short walk from town. There are a few trees for shade if you'd like, a great view of the lake and the ferries that ride back and forth. (I'm sure that it's much more crowded in the summertime than in September) If this beach doesn't suit your fancy, then there are beaches all along the lake at Riva del Garda, Sirmione and Castelleto. In fact, I saw a couple making their own beach with a few chairs right at one of the ferry docks. 

Where to Stay
We stayed at Hotel Benaco, a delightful little inn on the water in Nago Torbole at the north end of the lake. Our room was small, had a balcony, and ensuite but was perfect for what we needed. We relied on the front desk staff to help us with transportation and things to do and they were more than accommodating. Buffet breakfast is also included and parking - if you can find a space. 

It seems there are hundreds of little hotels and resorts that are independently run on Lake Garda to choose from. We based our pick on price and location. You can also try rentals at Air BnB or Or maybe if you want to go all out, try a villa rental!

What to Do
Get on the water
You can take a water taxi, ferry boat or hire a driver to take you on his or her boat for a specific amount of time. We made it on the water on the water taxi between Malcesine and Limone. It's a stunning lake, especially from the water.

Visit the small towns of Lake Garda
We took the advise of our hotel front desk staff and rode the bus to Malcesine where we walked around the idyllic town which was having it's Saturday market. There were lots of people and a band playing in the park. Our first stop was lunch on the water at . We learned how to say Cheers in Romanian and how to say cauliflower in Italian - ciopina. There is a castle here, Scaliger Castle, with a museum attached that looked interesting. But time got away from us and it was time to hop on the water taxi to cross the lake to Limone.

Limone, which means lemon in Italian, is another idyllic town on Lake Garda. We did a little shopping, sat at an outdoor cafe on the water and enjoyed an aperol spritz and then made our way to the beach. 

Nago Torbole
This town is at the northern end of the lake and where we stayed for our two nights. There are shops, restaurants, a water taxi and plenty of gelatoIt's quite small - especially compared to the other two towns we visited. But not lacking in charm due to it's size.  We had two fantastic dinners here - I picked pasta both nights!

Gardalanda Amusement Park/Canevaworld Water Park
We didn't visit Gardaland or it's sister water park but I'm sure it's a big draw for families with children in the summer months. What kid doesn't like water slides or amusement rides?

Monte Baldo
Monte Baldo is a mountain with a cable car to the top with, obviously, fantastic views. We thought about doing this but the day was very hazy and we though it just might not be worth it. If the weather is fine, I would recommend going to the top.

Where to Eat
Villa Emma
We happened upon Villa Emma, a guest house and restaurant in Nago Torbole, on our way back to the hotel from the car park. It's not on the main road so the outdoor seating is peaceful and quiet - and the food was outstanding. I ordered the lasagna and it was fantastic. I'd definitely go back.

Casa Buest
Casa Buest is also an inn and restaurant with outdoor seating located right on the lake in Nago Torbole. I had delicious homemade pasta and we enjoyed sitting outside and people watching. To top it off, my dessert was limoncello!

Italia Ristorante da Nikolas
This restaurant on the water in Malcesine was so much fun. We ordered pizzas and a cold cut plate to share and watched the water taxi's drive by. Our waiter was Romanian and he taught us how to say Cheers in Romanian - and identify a pickled cauliflower when we didn't know what it was. Delightful place to while away an afternoon.

Lake Garda is so big that you could stay a week and still not see it all. I so enjoyed my visit to the lake and I would love to go back someday. It was a perfect first place to set foot in Italy - I absolutely loved it. It's a true gem in northern Italy! 

How about you? Have you been to the Italian Lakes?

Linking up with: Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global, The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!