Veneto Road Trip Part 1 – Lake Garda

The late summer bank holiday promises perpetual sunshine throughout the last weekend of August, however, the people in the UK may tell you otherwise. Most would agree that it is usually a washout on the final bank holiday before Christmas. Having that in mind, we booked a trip to the most northeasterly region of Italy.  The Veneto region of Italy is home to some of the countries most famous cities: Verona, Venice, and Vicenza, only to name some. Lake Garda is also a premier destination, so lots for us to do in 3 days. Verona was the airport of destination, and our hotel just south of the city. To maximize the trip, we chose to hire a car. It was the best decision we made all trip!

Arrived in the afternoon to check in and settle down, also having a peek of the town of Vigasio, where the hotel was. Italy is renowned for their food, therefore, planning dinner was quite exciting. We chose to travel to Mantova which is technically cheating as it is in Lombardy and not Veneto, so I’m cheating here already! An hour travel brought us to a city surrounded by 3 artificial lakes. The city was bustling with families, couples and friends, typical for a Friday night. We dined alfresco at the Piazza delle Erbe, by the clock tower. It was a warm night with a soft breeze, the square dimly lit by soft lighting and a candle on the table. A perfect setting for an evening meal. After settling the bill, we walked around the beautiful rustic city, then headed back to the hotel for a busy couple of days ahead.

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Mantova

Morning came and breakfast devoured, we packed our shorts and swimming gear. The Italian weatherman predicted a scorching 38 degrees throughout the time we are in town, God bless Italia. Mid-morning found us racing on to Lake Garda in our little Fiat Panda with the air con on full blast and Italy’s top 40 songs on repeat FM. We entered the lake through the southeastern point going counter-clockwise towards Malcesine. It was my first time driving in Italy and it took some getting used to, driving on the other side of the road and the drivers being a little bit more daring. Only nearly crashed once!

Bardolino

Our first stop was the famous resort town of Bardolino. Perhaps the most visited town and understandably so. The town is picturesque. This was our first taste of Lake Garda’s towns and we were not disappointed.  A spectacular promenade lining the lake, and as we came mid-morning, it was still relatively quiet. Yachts line the harbour and charming churches dot the area. A great town to go on a gentle stroll and a perfect start to the day.

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Garda

The midday heat was starting to rise and the people filling Bardolino, it was time to move on to the next town. We planned to have lunch in the next town as we were getting quite peckish. Garda was the next town and it would make sense to stop and settle there for lunch. It is a sleepy town compared to Bardolino. It’s one of the more famous places in the lake with a fantastic view of Monte Luppia and the clear water. It had a lot less of the bustle and it was the perfect place to dine alfresco. We picked a spot on the edge of the lake, was a little bit pricey but it was worth every penny. One of the best views I have ever seen while eating out.

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Navene

The mercury hit 38 degrees very quickly and the sun was beaming down on us. The next step is a logical one, time to have a dip in the lake. As you drive on one of the most beautiful roads to drive through, you see a lot of tourists catching rays and paddling in the lake. We wanted to find a spot that doesn’t have a crowd so we kept on driving a long way until we arrived in Navene. A relatively small and unknown town, therefore we found the perfect spot. The ‘beach’ area is very rocky so it was uncomfortable to walk or lie on, but it’s just a matter of finding the right areas to put the towel down. It’s no tropical sandy beach by any means, but the views were stunning nonetheless. The clear, cold water cooled us down during the desert-like temperatures. We spent a good 2 hours here, and there’s no debating the reasons why.

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Malcesine

Time wasn’t on our side due to us overstaying on the beach on Navene, so we had time for just one town. This had to be Malcesine. Just like Bardolino, crowds of tourists were everywhere. Signs for gelato had Italian, English, and German(there is a large population of German tourists in Lake Garda) on them which indicated that it is much of a touristic town. On the topic of gelatos, a trip to the lake in the scorching heat would not be complete without a cone of pistachio gelato. The town had medieval buildings that date back to the 13th century, and having a backdrop of Monte Baldo creates a unique mountainside town vibe.

 

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It was 7pm when it was time to drive back. Our navigation calculated a travel time of just under 2 hours. It would be an understatement to say that we were shattered. A quick pit stop to the grocery store to grab some supplies, we got back to the hotel. What a day it was. Lake Garda is truly magnificent. Early night to rest up for another day of exploring.

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