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.


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 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 ?


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 !


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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this was excellent breakfast entertainment! The fantasie pasta made me even more hungry.*giggles*

The Garda lake in itself seem to be worth the trip, but I would also add that all of those little towns are so picturesque, so charmy that this would be an excellent honeymoon destination! Such romantic places!

I love all those old buildings and narrow streets. Small cafés and restaurants even better. They have more personality!

Excellent report with sooo many photos. Thank you for a super well done guide job :-)

Oh, and about that wind factor at 11 and 4. I've noticed over here that we can have very nice sunny weather in the mornings - until about 11 o'clock, then the clouds comes!!!! And at 4 in the afternoon, the mild afternoon breeze.

Emmyrose said...

I have one word for these photos.. "BREATHTAKING"

Thank you for sharing this :)

Sueblimely said...

Incredibly beautiful - for me there is nothing finer than picturesque buildings nestled between mountain and water. Living in such a young country I really appreciate the rich history of this sort of area.
A fantastic report and wonderful photos, Gattina

ViJaY said...

Limone is like bamboozling me!!! Such a scenic beauty!! And, u call it a lake.. Well, it is so big that in india, I would bet anyone would call it a river.. Of course u dont find such clean blue lakes in india.. and, the narrow streets.. I just love to be in such a place.. Which will be a great test for me to drive!!! The cruise of Italy simply shimmers!!!

Luna und Luzie said...

Tolle Bilder, Gattina. Da kommen glatt Urlaubserinnerungen hoch. Diese Orte kannte ich auch noch nicht. Wir waren in Lazise und Bardolino und umzu, also weiter unten. Auch ganz tolle Städte. Die alten Städte gleichen sich aber auch oft mit den engen kleinen Gassen.
Wir machen in Lazise immer Camping auf den Campingplatz LaQuercia.
Nett, euch beide in dem kleinen Cafe zu sehen :-)

Anonymous said...

It really is beautiful, Gattina, just what I need to get rid of the bugs!

Anonymous said...

tu as fait un travail remarquable! Je suis déjà venu il y a un moment mais internet a sauté! Après avoir vu ton reportage on a qu'une idée c'est venir dans ce lieu plein de charme! Je suis déjà allée plusieurs fois en Italie mais pas dans ce coin de paradis. A mon avis quand l'été doit être à éviter, je suppose que c'est comme ici sur la côte très touristique.
Vous êtes bien mignons tous les deux Mr Gattino et toi à la terrasse du café! C'est formidable vous avez pris un bon bol d'air!!!
je vais revenir plusieurs fois voir ton reportage car c'est très riche et les photos sont vraiment très belles... Merci Gattina pour ce bon moment!

kuanyin333 said...

Wow! This post was a work of art! Bravo! You've done a spectatular job here! How lucky you've been to travel to these charming towns around Lake Garda so many years! You're blessed, and we're blessed by your blog craft!

Anonymous said...

You are so lucky that you have been going there for many years! Thank you so much for sharing all of the majestic pictures!!! I just sat here staring at them forever, and now I hear little Soma calling for me. I'm gonna come back tonight to look at the beautiful pictures again. :-)

I like the video of the woman making the pasta. I'm still wondering about the process.

What an excellent post!!! :-D I'm in awe...

Anonymous said...

That is by far one of the most fantastic ports of call on the Lifecruiser tour! Bravo for all of the photos and I have just said to my husband that that is where I want to go for our 20th anniversary in 2,5 years! Fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Greetings to all and to our hostess.
Thanks for dropping in today and for the invitation join in on today's cruise, Gattina. I had a magnificent time learning more about the world beyond my own world. Bravo!

ps- And yes, consumerism isn't simply limited to Americans. We of the whole world are in this together. It's very seductive and a lifestyle we seem to easily adapt.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Thanks for the lovely tour.

Sandee said...

Beautiful Gattina. I'm hungry now watching that video. You have done an excellent post here. Excellent. Have a great day. :)

Melli said...

Oh my gosh Gattina! I see why Garda Lake is your favorite in all the world! Absolutely breath-taking mixture of mountains and lake!

I have enjoyed this entire tour SO much! These little towns or villages are sO quaint and charming! You know we do NOT have things like this ANYwhere that I can think of in the United States. I would really LOVE to go to Italy now -- now that I have seen these towns and the Garda Lake ... through your eyes!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Gattina! That was so lovely! I felt like I was there. I wish I was there, I am much in need of a holiday such as this one. I will definitely put Garda Lake on my list now that I have seen your photos and read your commentary.

I may come back to this post again and again when I feel the need to get away each day! Thank you!

MaR said...

Bravo!! such an enjoyable post, lovely pictures and such detailed information. We drove by four years ago and remember I have beautiful paper pictures from the lake, it is such a lovely area. Didn't stop to visit the nice little villages you showed us, only for lunch. I would double my weight in Italy very easily in a few weeks!

A. said...

What a wonderful place and a great tour. Thank you for going to such trouble to show me a place I might never have known. Of course now I'd like to go there too.

Hootin Anni said...

Absolutely gorgeous!!! First off, the link photo from your other blog is stunning! Love the sunshine sparkling from the terrace. And now these photos here on the cruise sidetrip....WOW!!!! So oldstyle, yet just plain beautiful!!

Sudiegirl said...

Wow - these are beautiful shots.

I've always wanted to go to Italy. Now I have more motivation.

Anonymous said...

Utterly breath-taking Gattina! Spectacular photos too! It is a very romantic looking area. I love the narrow cobble-stone streets with the quaint architecture. You're so fortunate to live so close :-)

Thanks for sharing and for taking the time to let me know about your cruise :-)

One Wacky Mom said...

Wow Gattina...this was a fascinating trip. I love it. How interesting for you. Rich in history, culture. I remember living in Europe and how I loved vising the art museums every weekend.

Florence was my favorite city in Italy...course I didn't spend much time there...we need to go back and really experience all of Italy.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

One Wacky Mom said...

And I can see why Malcesine was the ost beautiful city on Garda Lake. The shot you captures a quaint, beautiful town!

Unknown said...

I´m with you, Mr Gattino and Goethe: absolutely stunning. Thank you!

Ich bin extra mit Turnschuhen angereist, wegen des Kopfsteinpflasters =)

Hast Du ganz toll gemacht - ich möchte am liebsten direkt losfahren. Nein, losheizen. Pasta essen, flambiert in einem echten Parmesankäse. Ein Traum!

Vlado&Toni said...

I love this trip. I must agree with you that Malcesine is the most beautiful city basing from the pictures you have made. I love the cat pictures too :) one is even Baghira's cousin :) The lake is so beautiful though, You have encouraged me to visit this lake in one of our future trips.
I will come again later, some of the pictures are not showing, I don't know if this is my computer or the program itself from Photobucket? All the slideshows are running wonderfully though.
By the way, thanks for mentioning me in the Meme. The problem is how do i make a picture of my desktop so I can publish it in my blog? Thanks for the help.

Unknown said...

OMG nice pictures..good work!
January 8 will travel to my country by one month, but Moon will be with its dad at home. I will take many pictures.


Susan Demeter said...

Wow! These are all such beautiful photos! Thank you :)

Loree said...

Thanks for the tour. We've visited Riva and Limone. Both are beautiful We had stayed in San Zeno, high up in the mountains overlooking Lake Garda.


About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are 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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