We spent the Easter weekend exploring the Italian Lakes and chose to go to both Lake Garda and Lake Como. We landed in Milan Malpensa, picked up our rented our very Italian car (a tiny little Fiat 500) and made our way over to Desenzano, a little town on the south west shore of Lake Garda, where we had booked our hotel for two nights.
There were a lot of motorways and very un-scenic views involved in this almost 2 hour drive to Lake Garda, but when we finally saw the beautiful Lake glistening in the sunshine in front of us we were very excited to have arrived. We parked, checked in, changed into more appropriate clothes for the gloriously sunny, 24 degree Celsius day, and headed out to walk around to see what Desenzano had to offer.
We walked up to the lake and onto the pebbled beach and I was amazed to see how crystal clear the water was as the soft waves pushed it in and out. It felt very much like going to the seaside in the South of France. We sat on the pier with our legs dangling out over the water watching the swans and ducks go by and taking in the peacefulness of it all – before heading off to find a somewhere to eat lunch in the sunshine.
We wondered through the streets passing the colourful little buildings with their colourful shutters and on the windows until we found Bar Pizzeria Gelateria Cristallo facing the gorgeous Porto Vecchio and the Lake.
After a long lunch we set off to see the Castello di Desenzano. It sits grand amongst the colourful low rise buildings that surround it.
Overall Desenzano is a peaceful, gorgeous and colourful little town. I would definitely recommend staying here if you go to Lake Garda.
The next morning after breakfast we set off to a Vineyard for a tour and some wine tasting (which will be blogged about soon) before spending the rest of the day in Sirmione. Sirmione is a little town with a lot of history. It is a thin, long road that goes into the Lake and at the end of this road, you walk across a moat, through a castle entrance to then enter the old Sirmione town.
The old town is buzzing and full of people, like ourselves, being tourists and exploring.
We ended up finding a suntrap in the Square by the Ferry Port where we decided to stop for a drink – but every time you order an alcoholic beverage somewhere in Lake Garda, you will get nibbles to go with them – usually some crisps and olives but if you go between 5pm and 7pm you will get bread, bread sticks (they LOVE a bread stick), cheese and ham. It was lovely just sitting in the sun and watching the world go by around us.
There were gelaterias on every corner, thermal baths and spas, colourful shops and restaurants everywhere you look and some ginormously large lemons – all the things that Sirmione is famous for.
Unfortunately we didn’t try any lemons and we didn’t have a chance to go into the thermal baths, but we did have a fabulous time walking around the old town and going into the castle to see all the views.
If you do have the chance, definitely go for a day to explore this gorgeous area of Lake Garda.
Where to go? What to do?
- Have a day to stroll around Desenzano town
- Go to Castello di Desenzano
- Find a vineyard to do a winery tour and wine tasting
- Try some Lake Garda Lemons
- Enter Castello Scaligero in Sirmione
- Go to a thermal bath (historically used by the Romans here) in Sirmione
- Take a boat ride around Sirmione
- Have an Aperol Spritz (or other beverage) during aperitivo time
- Go for a walk, run or bike ride along the Lake
- Have lots of pasta
Where to stay?
We stayed in Hotel Bonotto in Desenzano which was perfect for what we needed it to be. It is a well-priced 3 star hotel with wifi, free parking, a safe in the room, breakfast included and it is a 2 minute walk from the lake. What more did we need?
The staff were great at helping us out to find our way around, giving us tips on where to go, and helping us out with what we needed for our stay.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant on the top floor which has floor to ceiling windows and a large terrace overlooking Lake Garda as well as the castle and rest of the town. Breakfast is continental with a choice of fruits, cereals, breads, cheeses, hams and boiled eggs as well as the teas, coffees and fruit juices. There was one morning when I was at breakfast and there was a bottle of prosecco as one of the drink options in the buffet, but it was a little too early for me, plus we were off to Onepio Vineyard afterwards.
Below are photos of our room and gorgeous views from the roof terrace at breakfast.