Round Lake Garda
Along the west side of Lake Garda runs the famous "Gardesana Occidentale", a masterpiece of modern road engineering, with numerous galleries and tunnels hewn from rock, and also a route of great scenic beauty, while on the east side there is the "Gardesana Orientale".
Riva del Garda, Italy
The tour of Lake Garda begins at the little town of Riva del Garda (70m/231ft; pop. 13,000), a summer and winter resort and congress center at the northwest tip of the lake. To the west of the town is the precipitous Rocchetta (1,527m/5,039ft), with a Venetian watch-tower.The town's busiest traffic intersection is the square by the harbor, with arcades and a massive old clock-tower. To the east, by the lakeside, is the little Piazza Carducci. Nearby stands the old moated castle of the Scaliger family, the Rocca (12th-15th century). On the road to Arco is the church of the Inviolata, with a Baroque interior (1603).On the south side of the town is the Ponale hydro-electric power station (88,000kW), fed by water brought from the Lago di Ledro, 585m/1,930ft above Riva, in a pipeline 6km/3.75mi long.
Gargnano & Riviera Bresciana, Italy
29km/18mi from Riva on the road which follows the west side of Lake Garda, on the lower slopes of a precipitous hill, is the attractive village of Gargnano (98m/323ft), where the Riviera Bresciana begins. The Villa Feltrinelli, a little way north of the lakeside promenade, was occupied by Mussolini from September 1943 to April 1945 (it is now a department of the university of Milan).
Bogliaco, with the large country house of Count Bettoni (park).The terraced garden was designed by Pierallini.
Gardone Riviera (70m/231ft), which attracts many visitors with its mild climate and luxuriant southern vegetation; magnificent Hruska Botanic Garden. About 1km/.75mi north surrounded by beautiful gardens is Gardone di Sopra (130m/429ft). Near the church (view from the terrace) is the Villa Vittoriale degli Italiani, the last home of Gabriele d'Annunzio (1863-1938), with mementos of the poet.
Salò (75m/248ft; pop. 10,000) is charmingly situated in a long narrow bay under Monte San Bartolomeo (568m/1,874ft). This was the birthplace of Gasparo da Salò (1542-1609), inventor of the violin, and from September 8th 1943 the seat of the Fascist government of Italy ("Republic of Salò"). The Gothic parish church of Santa Maria Annunziata (1453) is worth seeing.
Desenzano del Garda, Italy
San Martino della Battaglia, Italy
The village of San Martino della Battaglia (110m/363ft) is 5km/3mi southeast of Desenzano del Garda. This is where a Piedmontese army, allied with the French, defeated the Austrians on June 24th 1859 (commemorative tower, war museum).
About 11km/7mi south of San Martino della Battaglia is the village of Solferino (132m/436ft); here a French army led by Napoleon III defeated the Austrians on the same day (museum, ossuary). From the Rocca, above the village, there are extensive views. The sufferings of the wounded in the battle of Solferino gave Henri Dunant the idea of founding the Red Cross.
2.5km/1.5mi beyond Desenzano on S.S. 11 a road goes off on the left (3.5km/2mi) to the picturesque little town of Sirmione, on a long promontory reaching out into the lake. The Roman poet Catullus (84-54 B.C.) had a villa here. The town which is also visited for its sulphur springs has a large and picturesque castle of the Scaligers (13th century restored); fine view from the tower. About 1km/0.75mi north is the Punta di Sirmione, with a terrace from which there are fine views, built on late Roman substructures ("Grotte di Catullo").
Grotte di Catullo
Grottos of Catullus, the roman substructures in Sirmione, may be explored by visitors.
Peschiera del Garda, Italy
Peschiera del Garda (68m/224ft; pop. 9,000), is a strongly fortified little town at the southeast corner of Lake Garda, at the outflow of the River Mincio.From Peschiera the road continues up the east side of the lake.
Lazise (76m/251ft; pop. 5,000) has medieval town walls and a Scaliger castle (14th century).
Bardolino (68m/224ft), to the left of the road is the little Romanesque church of San Severo (eighth and 12th centuries), with frescoes (12th and 13th centuries).
Garda (69m/228ft; pop. 3,500) is a small old town. A footpath leads up in 45minutes to the Rocca (294m/970ft), on the site of an earlier castle which gave its name to the lake.
Promontory San Vigilio
Torri del Benaco
Torri del Benaco (68m/224ft contains the medieval Castello Scaligero (1383).
San Zeno di Montagna
From Torri del Benaco an attractive excursion can be made to the summer holiday resort of San Zeno di Montagna, 9km/5.5mi northeast (583m/1,924ft), situated high above the lake (views) on the southwest slopes of the Monte Baldo range.
A trip on Lake Garda is an attractive way of seeing both sides of the lake. There are boats from Riva to Desenzano which call at various places on the east and west sides of the lake, and also from Toscolono-Maderno via Garda to Peschiera del Garda or Desenzano. Hydrofoils operate from Riva to Desenzano.