The Italian lakes are famous for their stunning landscapes of pastel painted waterside towns and villages, world class gardens, luxurious mosiacs and historic islands. This northern corner of Italy is a famous haunt of celebrities, couples and families. The area has an atmosphere of romance and elegance, although the towns and roads do get busy in the summer months.
Of the 3 or 4 Italian lakes that form these inviting blue splodges on the map of the Lombardy Plain, Garda is the largest. Como and Maggiore are both beautiful, but Garda is by far I think, the best suited to families.
The lakeside towns around Garda aare beautiful and have charmed foreign visitors for centuries. The colours are vivid and the geography is varied. The southern lakeshore is low, rolling land and in parts built up. The northern end is fjord-like and dramatic with its towering mountains and cliffs. Most of the lakeside towns are popular as holiday resorts.
There are splendid, slightly decaying villas in soft pinks, lush greenery and beautiful lake front towns. Parts of the lake enjoy a micro-climate which has resulted in the beautiful gardens in the villas around its fringes. Many of the towns are surrounded by lemon groves.
The main highlights of our stay were:
* Moniga del Garda - a tiny resort on the southern edge of the lake and our base for the week. It was a perfect place to come back to after a day of sightseeing and exploring. Quiet and relaxed, it has a few restaurants and bars on the lakeshore and is a lovely place for a stroll in the evening. It also enjoys sunny weather most days - even when the more northerly resorts had cloud and rain.
* Sirmione - a gem of a place, with its lovely castle and views over the lakes from the ramparts. It also has some amazing Roman ruins on a promontory. The ruins are fascinating, but the views from this area over the water are unforgettable.
* The cable car ride from Malcesine up to the top of Monte Baldo - again wonderful views of the Lake and the towns of Malcesine and Limone are delightful.
* Travelling on the high speed ferry up the Lake to Riva - the most northerly resort, watching the scenery change from gentle hills to huge craggy mountains as you speed up the lake. Also then taking the slow boat back again and having more time to soak up the glorious scenes unfolding before you.