Lake Garda

Photo: Edwin van Buuringen

Lake Garda

Lake Garda (Italian: Lago di Garda) is the largest lake in Italy. It is a popular holiday location and is located in northern Italy, about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and between Venezia and Milano. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last Ice Age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona (to the south-east), Brescia (south-west), and Trentino (north). The name Garda, which the lake has been seen referred to in documents dating to the eighth century, comes from the town of the same name.

Garda (town- 15 min drive from our hotel Villa Cariola):

Garda is one of the main resorts on the southern end of the lake that bears its name. It's one of the most popular destinations in the Italy sections of the lakes and mountains holiday brochures.

History:

Garda shows traces of habitation through the centuries, with the Venetian merchants' villas, the legends of the Burgundians and the rock etchings in the hills above the town. The town of Garda became important - and probably gave its name to the lake - because of the important strategic position it occupied on the southeastern shores. Long before that however the people of the late Bronze Age had left evidence of their existence in this area and graves and etchings have been discovered in the area of the town and surrounding hillsides. The Ostrogoths were the first to build a fortification on the hill to the south of Garda, the "Rocca", and were followed by other invaders until the fortress and town below came under Venetian control and became the headquarters of the administration on the lake. Influences of the Venetians can still be seen in parts of the old town.

Tourism in Garda began at the start of the 20th century but really took off in the 1950s, when the area on the eastern side of the lake became known as the "Riviera of Olives". In those days, the most important nation for tourism was the Netherlands - however they have long since been overtaken by the Germans.

Sightseeing:

Rocca

The "Rocca" at the southern edge of the town of Garda is a rock outcrop just under 250m in height. It was originally a fortress dating from the fifth century and stories from those days, such as that of the flight of Queen Adelaide to marry King Otto, feature in German traditions. The fortress was actually destroyed by the Venetians when they took control of Lake Garda. These days it is possible to walk up the Rocca - a path leading up through the trees leaves the edge of the town either to the Rocca or the statue of Madonna del Pino.

Palazzo dei Capitano

The "Palazzo dei Capitano" is a Gothic palace on the lake front and the square in front of the building was once the harbour before being filled in. Nowadays it is one of the busy squares full of tables for eating, drinking and people-watching.

Punta San Vigilio

"Punta San Vigilio" is the strip of land on the eastern shore which separates the narrower northern and central part of Lake Garda from the flatter bay area to the south. A cluster of buildings lies at the end of an avenue of cypresses. The Villa Guarienti was built in the 16th century - today it is in private hands - and has regularly hosted heads of state. Nearby is a hotel and restaurant, while on the northern side is a private park and beach.

Monte Luppia

"Monte Luppia" is the hill behind the Punta San Vigilio which is visible at the northern edge of the Garda bay. This hill is substantially higher than the Rocca to the south, but walks here are popular to see the rock etchings which have been discovered in the area. There are thousands of engravings in the soft rock which are thought to have been created by the shepherds looking after flocks on the high pastures over the previous thousands of years.

Verona

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Verona, city of Love. There is a good reason for this name and not for nothing a man called William Shakespeare set his masterpiece “Romeo and Juliet” in this little gem of a city.

This perfect frame for love stories is located in Veneto region and has always been an important pole since Ancient Rome era, and though the Roman Empire’s city has been reshaped, it exists virtually intact about 6 m below the surface. Its history indeed is preserved in the attractions of the city and Unesco has listed its architecture and urban structure in World Heritage Sites list.

The city is situated at the foot of the Lessini Mountains on the River Adige. It dates from prehistoric times: a small built-up area that developed between the 4th and 3rd century BCE became a Roman municipium in the 1st century BCE after which it rose rapidly in importance. During the 5th century, Verona was occupied by the Ostrogoth Theodoric I, later by the Lombards, and in 774 by Charlemagne. In the early 12th century, it became an independent commune. It prospered under the rule of the Scaliger family and particularly under Cangrande I, falling to Venice in 1405. From 1797, it became part of the Austrian Empire and joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

The core of the city consists of the Roman town nestled in the loop of the river containing one of the richest collections of Roman remains in northern Italy. Surviving remains of this era include the city gate, Porta Borsari, the remains of the Porta Leoni, the Arco dei Gavi, which was dismantled in the Napoleonic period and rebuilt next to Castelvecchio in the 1930s, the Ponte Pietra, the Roman theatre, and the Amphitheatre Arena. The Scaligers rebuilt the walls during the Middle Ages, embracing a much larger territory in the west and another vast area on the east bank of the river. This remained the size of the city until the 20th century. The heart of Verona is the ensemble consisting of the Piazza delle Erbe (with its picturesque fruit and vegetable market) and the Piazza dei Signori, with historic buildings that include the Palazzo del Comune, Palazzo del Governo, Loggia del Consiglio, Arche Scaligere, and Domus Nova. The Piazza Bra has a number of buildings dating back to different epochs.

Verona’s surviving architecture and urban structure reflects the evolution of this fortified town over its 2,000 year history.