I adore Lake Garda in Italy... or as I should say Adoro il Lago di Garda in Italia.
So summer is coming to an end and the weather in Denbigh, my hometown, has taken a turn for the more chilly. The break from University has been great so far, I have been able to visit loads of places, exhibitions and galleries and have some great day trips out. However, I think it is safe to say no summer break is complete without a week holiday away. One place that we both my parents and I simply dreamed of going back to was Lake Garda in Italy. We had previously been in 2017 for a week and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. After little convincing on my behalf, my parents booked us a week long visit.
Last time we went, we stayed in Desenzano del Garda, the largest town on Lake Garda. When we stayed this time, we booked an apartment at the top of the town which had great views of the lake. One of the first things we did when we arrived was walk into the town centre and familiarise ourselves with the walk, where all the keys places were, the boat port and restaurants being the important ones.
We spent the second day also in the town, exploring a bit further out than the main squares. We noticed when walking around the town that there were lots of ribbons strung up between buildings asked our resort representative what it was about. She informed us that there was a festival going on and that evening there was to be a pop up feast in one of the small courtyards of a small road from the main square. So after spending the day wandering around the town and visiting the Caravaggio experience at the Desenzano Castle (keep and eye out for another blog this will be featured in!) we found our way to the feast and enjoyed the beautiful evening weather, simple yet mouth watering food and the busy and vibrant atmosphere full of cooking smells and Italian conversation.
And of course, we had to visit the top of the lake. The trip on a fast boat would last 2 ½ hours and on the normal boat 4 ¾ hours, so we decided to go on a bus tour around the Lake which would stop of at various destinations. This meant we could not only visit the top of the lake, but various other towns dotted in between and had had some free time to explore them all. Throughout the journey we stopped at Lazise, Malcésine, Riva and Limone. All the stops where amazing in their own way. We had an amazing lunch at Riva, consisting of spaghetti Bolognese, Lake Sardines and insalata caprese with some very fresh buffalo mozzarella.
On the fourth day of our stay we travelled by boat to Gardone Riviera and visited Il Vittoriale Degli Italiani (The Shrine of Italian Victories). The very grand building and gardens were once home to the eccentric writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. We decided that on this particularly hot day (mid thirties at least) we wouldn’t visit the house and instead spend out time exploring the vast gardens which featured many of interest and pieces of contemporary artworks.
On the Wednesday of out visit we spent the morning lounging by the infinity pool and the apartment and around lunch time walked into the centre of Desenzano and watched the greasy pole competition taking place at the old port as part of the White Nights festival. We also visited the Happy Years exhibition for Donne Brescia photo festival 2019 (also to be featured in another blog post) and spent our time enjoying the stalls and local musicians who played well into the evening.
Our day trip to Venice, whilst decent, wasn’t my favourite trip out as I had expected it to be. We already knew in advance that it was the busy season for tourists, and expected a lot of people but blimey, the sheer amount of people was almost claustrophobic even on the large Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s square). We stopped for lunch at the renowned Caffè Florian which had great views of the cathedral Basilica Di San Marco. And as expected, the food was simply divine and very gourmet. All food has to be transported by boat, making it very expensive. One shocking fact was that a glass of prosecco is cheaper than a cup of coffee! After having some lunch, we wandered around the city, and whilst yes, the crowds were stressful and annoying and the weather was sweltering, the city was still very beautiful, though the Rialto Bridge wasn’t quite done justice by the swarms of people.
On the final day we hadn’t really planned to visit anywhere particular and just wandered into town to buy lunch and explore locally. And it was lucky we hadn’t planned to go out anywhere as a giant storm soon rolled in. We made it back into the apartment for lunch and watched with, in equal parts fear and awe as the clouds grew and lighting flashed. It was breath-taking, as we were up on the hill out of town, we were right in the heart of the storm, watching as winds whipped large trees from side to side and lighting flashes illuminated the grey abyss, I am sure we even saw ball lightening! After the storm passed, we walked back into town for tea and wandered around the port, watching the sunset over the boats and yachts.
Overall the holiday was simply amazing, it lived up to the expectations I had left with after out last visit. Whilst the summer storms did catch us out on a few occasions the beautiful weather and iconic Lake Garda ice creams surely made up for it. All I have to do now is wait until next year when I hope we will return to see the world renowned Melia Melia car race which stops at Desenzano. I simply cant wait!