Lake Garda has always drawn large numbers of tourists thanks to its size, its strategic position and its clear, fresh waters. Each of the towns along its shores has its own history, which we will attempt to explore together as we move from Verona to Brescia, and even northward as far as Trento. As Italy's largest lake, the shores of Lake Garda extend to three different Italian regions: Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The area is traversed by the River Adige, as it descends from the Monte Baldo massif, with the lake featuring a narrow elongated shape in the north, which widens in the south where the moraine hills enjoy a mild Mediterranean climate.
The origins of the name
This popular tourist destination, which welcomes thousands of Italian and foreign tourists each year, was originally known to the Romans as Lake Benaco. The name Garda is of Germanic origins, and only came into use during a later period. One of the area's most import monuments is the Castle of Avio (also known as Sabbionara). The large complex, which was once home to the Lombard King Authari and his consort Theodolinda, as well as the emperors Charles V and Maximilian I of Habsburg, stands prominently atop a steep rocky outcropping.
Thanks to its large surface area, its shores boast a wide range of different climates (sometimes warm, like in Sirmione, and sometimes cold, like in the north): with its modest temperature ranges, the Verona side shoreline of Lake Garda is also known as the Riviera of Olives, while the Brescia side is known as the Riviera of Lemons.
The Monte Baldo massif, which looms over Lake Garda, has been known since ancient times as the "Garden of Europe", and hosts a wide range of flower species: its foothills, in fact, are home to numerous varieties typical of warmer and more humid climates.
The most visited places
From here we head back downhill, where amid the main tourist destinations visitors can find the splendid little town of Sirmione, which is situated on the lake's southernmost shores. Thanks to its sulphur hot springs, the location has been considered a prime holiday destination by the ruling classes since ancient times. The Grottoes of Catullus, a complex comprising an ancient Roman bathhouse and villa, represents one of the most important testimonies of the Roman Empire's presence along the shores of Lake Garda.
Gardone Riviera, on the Brescia side of the lake, owes at least part of its fame to Gabriele d’Annunzio, who commissioned the construction of the local Vittoriale degli Italiani (the "Shrine of Italian Victories"), a majestic residence rife with frills, memorabilia and acute testimonies that the poet wanted to leave behind. The Verona side, which is naturally illuminated by the sun for most of the day, features an extensive network of trails and cycling paths, and is perfect for all types of tourism. The various local towns worth visiting include Garda, Lazise, Bardolino, Peschiera, Malcesine (with its castle), and Torri del Benaco... the immensity of the lake, the screeching of the seagulls, and the faint smell of salt air give the entire coastline typically maritime feel.
In the north, where the lake narrows like a funnel, the tall mountains reflect off the cold blue waters, and the cliffs plunge deep into the lake itself: these are the surroundings typical of Lake Garda's Trento-Alto Adige/Südtirol shoreline. The area's prominent winds have caused the local towns of Torbole and Riva to become two of Europe's most popular windsurfing and water sports destinations. But cycling is also extremely popular: in fact, from April to May the area even hosts a Bike Festival, which draws visitors from far and wide.
But Lake Garda is not only famous for its views, the curative properties of its waters, and its splendid historic villages. There's also a series of themed amusement parks for the entire family: Gardaland, Movieland and Canevaworld. From the Brescia to the Verona shorelines, from Sirmione to Torri, and from Desenzano to Riva, the Lake Garda area is home magnificent sunny beaches and a large number of charming villages and monasteries to be explored throughout the surrounding countryside.
Contact the local tourist guided for a visit on Lake Garda
For an unforgettable experience, the licensed tour guides of the Lake Garda area are at your complete disposal to help you create the itinerary that's best suited to your needs and time constraints, perhaps even combining a relaxing trip to the lake with an event at the Arena, a tour of the cities of Verona and Brescia, or even an oenogastronomic tour of the Valpolicella wine region. Request a quote by writing to us directly from the website: we'll be at your complete disposal to help you create the themed itinerary that's best suited to your needs.