Tuesday, October 30, 2007

THE GARDA LAKE (Northern Part)

When I first saw the Garda Lake it's view took my breath away and it still does. If you arrive on the top of a mountain and see these huge blue lake in front of you nestled in the mountains it is hard to discribe ! It is Italy’s largest lake (370 km2) and located between Venice and Milan. It is said to be the most beautiful lake in all of Europe and certainly true to me. It is in an alpine region and was formed by glaciers at the end of the last ice age. The transparency and intense blue of the water and the luxurious vegetation add to its natural beauty.

The northern part of the lake is narrower and its scenery differs from mountainous and very rocky in the North to gently hilly in the South. I always have stayed at the Northern part because I love mountains the southern part is too flat for me. Although it is warmer there and not so windy. The Garda Lake has a long history dating back to ancient time, when it was home to various Celtic tribes and was also the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Riva del Garda on the top of the lake, belonged to the republic of Venice and later to the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918. Since 1918 Riva del Garda has been a part of Italy. Elderly people, now mostly dead still could speak german as my mother in law did. There are also a lot of typical Austrian family names and some of Austrian food specialities still prepared in this region.

The panoramic visions of Garda have seduced many poets and artists such as Goethe, Stendhal, Foscolo, Corot, Byron, Heine, Kafka, Carducci, and Ezra Pound.

The lake varies in character and has many different faces, each unique in its presentation, from sweet and smiling to rough, wild and threatening but always imposing and spectacular. The eastern shore of the lake is dominated by the Monte Baldo that rises over two 2000 m above the lake. The climate is mild because the lake acts as a gigantic solar panel and the ring of mountains retains the heat. Cypresses, laurels, vineyards, olive trees and other many varieties of flowers and trees grow there.

You can consider the Lake Garda as the entrance to the south, the first tasting of the Italian way of life behind the Alps.

The Northern part of the Lake is also worldwide known as a paradise for Windsurfing and sailing The mountains trap the warm air which causes a strong wind around Torbole, Riva and Limone.

It has always amazed me that the wind comes up each day at the same time. Always around 11 in the morning and 3 to 4 in the afternoon. Local people call this wind "Ora" which means "hour". Before these hours the lake looks like a mirror and is flat. But when the wind starts to blow there are suddenly waves and the water isn't calm any longer. I have seen surfers from Canada, Australia, USA and of course the European countries. On weekends it is crowded by people from Verona and Milan or other big cities around. For swimmers it is not so easy to go in the water at these times, but for people who don't like water sports, the wind keeps the environment fresh on even the hottest days. You don't realize 30° when the wind is blowing.

Since I came here for the first time in 1968 the number of surfers has increased tremendously. For years we could swim whenever and wherever we wanted to. Today it is not possible any more there are too many surfers and it would be very dangerous. There are only limited spaces now for swimmers.

I think it is not necessary to comment the following pictures of the lake !

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Until the middle of the Lake you are driving most of the time in tunnels, especially on the left side of the lake. There was no room to built streets, people had to go over the lake to reach another city. Until the 1940's only Riva was reachable through the mountains, with the road to Riva being built only 1932. Under the Mussolini regime tunnels were built and a road constructed all around the lake.

Torbole

We have always stayed in Torbole because it is the closest town at the lake to Rovereto where my husband is coming from only 18 km far from the lake. So we were able to combine family and friends visits with our holidays.

A street in Torbole

Torbole is a very small town with only a few streets but now a lot of hotels, holiday appartments and many camping places. There are mostly specialized shops in surf equipment a few souvenir shops, jewelery and leather shops and one super market. Once these items were very cheap in Italy but now it's almost the same price than in other European countries.

Even Goethe lived in Torbole, here in this house and wrote his impressions. He loved the Garda lake very much

The house

There was a grape cure going on all around the lake where you could taste grapes and wine for free.

A variety of pasta in all colors and forms ! Click on picture it is worthwhile !

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This has been and still is "my" beach. My son used to play here and behind you can see the hotel where we stayed the very first time. It is still called "Lido Blu" but is not blue anymore but brown yellow and has become a Surf center. After the birth of my son we used to camp for 17 years just besides this hotel. And this time we rented an apartment just behind the camping place !

I made this little video one evening in a restaurant near Torbole. She put the prepared pasta in this big cheese form then she lighted the inside and the cheese melted over the pasta. Unfortunately it was not dark enough to film the flames. Useless to say it was delicious ! (the price too, only 7 €)

Riva

Riva is located in the North of the lake and famous for it's clima and very good air. From there you can go up into the mountains. The city lives from tourists who come here for surfing, sailing or just resting. It is a beautiful old town. The city center hasn't changed a bit over the years, but had expanded wherever there was space to built something.

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The old fortress around the city center

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View from the market place

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Nice shops !

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market place

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The Sarca river who ends in the Lake

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and you have the choice between American and German coffe and cake ! I wonder what is the difference ?

Limone

Means lemon and there are famous cultivations but the town's name is probably derived from the ancient lemos (Latin: boundary referring to the communes of Brescia and the Bishopric of Trento). The city is very very tiny and really glued against the mountains. It is even amazing how they could built houses there with so few room. If you walk in the city you always have to climb up or go down or use steps. Only along the lake the street is even. The town hasn't changed a bit, there are the same houses since around the 15th century. From outside they look like centuries ago, but if you go inside you will find the most beautiful and modern appartments and insides.

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View from the parking to Limone

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Looks like a nest

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a group of Indians from Peru performed in front of the Lake

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Street scenery

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All streets were so narrow that you only could reach them with a very very small car like a Smart or by motorcycle or bicycles. Your car you had to leave outside the city on a parking.

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view on the lake

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and everywhere in the city the streets were covered with cobble stones, nothing for high heels !

Malcesine

is also called "The Pearl of the Garda Lake". It is a beautiful town with pastel colored houses and the Scaligeri castle dominating the city. It also has a "funivia" a cable car which takes you up to the 2000 m (6562 ft) high Montebaldo from where you have a beautiful look on the whole lake, the Alps and Dolomites. I always remember the temperature difference. In the city it was awfully hot and up there it was freezing !

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The habour surrounded by cafés and restaurants

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Artists are sitting here to paint the Lake

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a special court yard

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After a walk on cobble stones, a little rest in a Café

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Streets are also very narrow everywhere. Driving almost impossible.

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Castello Scaligeri, which has 14th-Century fortifications and an older medieval tower.

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Goethe stayed also in Malcesine and lived in this house. He wrote Iphigenia here and also parts of the"Italian Journey" (Italienische Reise) In 1786, he was arrested on suspicion of being a spy after he was caught drawing sketches of the castle !

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For me too Malcesine is the most beautiful city on the Garda Lake.

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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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