Located between the pre-Alpine belt and the Po valley, Lake Garda belongs to three regions, Trentino, Lombardy and Veneto. Riviera degli Ulivi is also the name which the Venetian shore is commonly referred to.
It is the largest lake in Italy that offers enchanting views and villages that make everyone fall in love. From the mountains of Trentino to the vineyards and olive groves of the Veronese and Brescia side, this lake is perfect for a tour, which can be done by car, motorcycle or bicycle.
The tour of the lake can be done in 4-5 hours but if you really want to stop and admire the beauty of this area you must plan at least a weekend. There is a long coastal road that surrounds the entire perimeter of the lake for 160 km with a splendid view of the lake on one side and of the mountains and hills on the other. Here are 10 villages to discover on Lake Garda
Without a doubt, Affi’s rapid commercial and urban development is due to the opening of the “Affi-Lago di Garda Sud.” This exit of the Brenner motorway in the 1970s, created the most suitable conditions to define Affi as a real door of access to Lake Garda for Italian tourists, but especially foreigners from the north. In addition to the beauty of the area, the many historical, artistic and architectural aspects present in Affi deserve mention, all of which express the socio-cultural heritage of the past. In particular, the beautiful villas of the XVII-XVIII centuries, such as Villa Poggi, Villa E. da Persico, and the medieval Castle of Incaffi.
Most people associate Bardolino with its world famous DOC wine that bears the same name, which is appreciated both at home and abroad. Located on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, this enchanting locality has kept its territorial characteristics and the typical architecture of the fishing villages, revealing its past and the types of economic activities that took place before the advent of tourism. The remains of the Scaligere walls with their massive towers, the traces of the ancient castle, the elegant buildings and the beautiful churches of San Severo and San Zeno, bear witness to a succession of emperors, monks and noble families. Bardolino, accompanied by the nearby towns of Cisano on the lake and Calmasino in the hills, are ideal holiday places available to tourists. A lively stroll along the lakeside promenade and through the narrow streets of the town centre with its local and elegant shops, animates the summer of this magical locality.
3. Brenzone sul Garda
Located on the Venetian side of Lake Garda, Brenzone is one of the largest municipalities in the province of Verona, covering a territory of over fifty square kilometers. Dating back to the Roman era, Brenzone includes sixteen hamlets. Castelletto, Magugnano, Porto and Assenza, which still have the characteristic layout of the fishing villages gathered around the port, are the largest inhabited centres overlooking the lake. If the economy of the past was based on modest fishing occupations, tourism is the main resource today. The Riviera degli Ulivi is the beautiful location where numerous hotels, residences and campsites are situated, and where you can also have delicious lake fish dishes in the many restaurants in the area.
4. Castelletto di Brenzone sul Garda
The little tourist and holiday village of Castelletto is the largest of the localities in the municipality of Brenzone. The village is situated on the shore of the lake, along the eastern Gardesana main road, and partly on the mountain slope where the old, two to three storey houses flank the medieval cobbled streets between ancient facades and private courtyards.This part of the locality is particularly picturesque and it is the main starting point leading to the paths that go up Mount Baldo. Castelletto offers enchanting lakeside walks and there are hotels, apartments, food shops, bars, restaurants and pizzerias in the village.
Elegant Venetian style buildings, one of the most extensive beaches of the Riviera degli Ulivi, a network of narrow streets full of tourists make Garda a charming holiday destination. The gulf is enclosed to the north by Mount Luppia, which forms the enchanting Punta San Vigilio and to the south by the Rocca Hill, which can be reached by going along an arduous path surrounded by typical Mediterranean vegetation. The alleys of the centre of Garda, once inhabited by fishermen, now host elegant shops and welcoming restaurants that prepare lake fish, a basic ingredient of the local gastronomy. Numerous hotels and residences and a modern congress building complete the offer of this renowned tourist destination. An ideal place for nature loving sports enthusiasts, because the Lake offers sailing, windsurfing, swimming and other outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, golf, tennis, horse-riding or free-climbing.
Lazise, a prestigious holiday resort on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, is characterized by its fascinating history which has its roots in ancient times. This is borne out by its name that derives from the Latin “Iacus”, meaning a lakeside village, and the remains of a large village of stilt houses from the Neolithic period that were found in the hamlet of Pacengo. Dominated by the fascinating Rocca Scaligera, Lazise is entirely surrounded by a circle of turreted walls that enclose the historical centre, now full of elegant restaurants and craft shops. Medieval alleys intersect it, while an elegant square opens onto the old port and onto the promenade that leads to the beaches. Lazise is an important and popular tourist centre on the Riviera, with comfortable hotels and a well-equipped campsite. Sports and leisure facilities, as well as important music events and excellent cuisine made with top quality local products, such as oil, wine and lake fish, complete the tourist offer.
Dominated by its elegant castle, Malcesine is an enchanting village that offers unforgettable panoramic views. The medieval alleys that lead up to the Scaligero Castle, the lakeside lined with shops and restaurants and the magical atmosphere that one can sense in the air during every season, continue to fascinate thousands of tourists who choose Malcesine as a holiday resort every year. Considered to be the “pearl of the lake”, this Veronese village is located in an ideal position that can satisfy a any travelers needs.
8. Peschiera del Garda
A pentagon-shaped fortress-town, Peschiera del Garda is a jewel of architecture, art and culture at the southern end of the Veronese side of Lake Garda. It has been an important centre since prehistoric times because it was an important and vital crossroad connecting the Alps and the Po Valley, Veneto and Lombardy. It was only during the Serenissima Republic of Venice that Peschiera del Garda assumed its characteristic urban form. In the second half of the sixteenth century, a number of architects elaborated an important urban conformation, such as the Fortress and the imposing pentagonal walls. Today the ramparts and alleys of the historical centre are home to shops, hotels and fine restaurants that delight the palates of tourists with dishes belonging to the Garda culinary tradition, to be enjoyed with the excellent Lugana DOC, a white wine produced in this area.
9. Torri del Benaco
Nestled at the foot of Mount Baldo, along the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, and surrounded by pine woods, olive groves and lemon orchards, Torri del Benaco combines the charm of a medieval village with the liveliness of a modern tourist centre. The town is dominated by the Scaligero Castle dating back to the fourteeth century, which houses an interesting ethnographic museum with sections dedicated to prehistoric rock engravings, fishing and olive growing and an eighteenth-century lemon growing greenhouse. To welcome the tourist, this lakeside locality offers various types of accommodation, including hotels, apartments, residences and campsites, all of which guarantee a pleasant stay. There is also an efficient ferry service from Torri del Benaco that takes tourists to the nearby towns and villages around the Lake.