It’s hard not to fall in love with Lake Garda and all it has to offer. And it’s easy to explore some of the key places by simply hopping on a ferry ride around the lake.
In the more remote northern part of the lake the scenery becomes more mountainous, and from an Australian’s point of view European mountains beat our hills hands down. So being able to stand in the Italian Alps was something of a highlight.
It’s a short ferry ride across Lake Garda from our base in Limone, to the beautiful town of Malcesine (pronounced MalCHESinay) on the eastern bank of the lake. The town nestles right into the foot of Mt Baldo, making for a spectacular backdrop.
Malcesine, like so many Italian towns, is full of cobble-stoned alleyways, with lively cafes and and restaurants tucked away. The historic Castello Scaligero stands guard over the harbour-front – accentuating the medieval feel of the town. (Not to be mistaken for Castello Scaligero in Sirmione – at the southern end of the lake). The white stone tower rises over the 13th century fortifications – un unmistakable landmark.
The bell, cast in 1442, is still in service even today, centuries later.
The town is a haven for sports, in both summer and winter. Water-sports, paragliding, cycling ad hiking in summer and skiing in winter. Or there are plenty of places to sunbathe for those feeling less active.
A highlight is catching the Funicular (cable-car) up to the top of Mt Baldo – though if you are feeling energetic I imagine it’s a great hike! It’s only a rise from 100m to 1700m! It does get pretty busy so be prepared to queue for the cable car if you don’t want to walk it.
Even in the middle of summer temperatures drop on the top of the mountain and jackets are the order of the day.
There are plenty of routes across the mountain for hikers and cyclists as well as some easy strolls for the less active enthusiasts! But the views of Lake Garda from the top of the mountain are well worth the effort of getting up there.
Wildflowers abound and cows graze happily with old fashioned cow bells around their necks. And the grass is so green and the air so crisp it is really hard to resist not bursting into a rendition of “The Hills Are Alight” from Sound of Music. I mean REALLY hard!
There are a few cafe-restaurants at the top as well as a terrace bar and shops near the cable car station.
Mt Baldo is one of the most perfect places just to get back to nature. It’s easy to wander off into your own space, without being crowded by other tourists and simply be amazed at how spectacular nature can be, with views right up through the alps in one direction, and down the length of the lake in the other. It’s amazing to breathe in air so crisp and clean that you can feel the difference right through your body as you inhale.
You really can spend some time feeling like you are the only person on earth.