I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of the Lakes District in Italy. The roots of my fascination may lie in the many movies that have been filmed there. Casino Royale, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, A Month By the Lake, Ocean’s Twelve, and Man on Fire, among others, were all filmed at Lake Como. Though I’d previously spent time at Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland, and viewed Lake Como from a bus on my way to take the famous Bernina Express train to Chur, Switzerland, I’d never actually stayed at any of Italy’s famous Lakes. During a recent trip to northern Italy, I decided to remedy that with a stop at Lake Garda.
I chose to stay in the town of Peschiera del Garda, as it was on the southern tip of the lake and easily reached by the rail line that runs between Venice and Milan. My first impression was of a cute little village. The historic old quarter offers a few streets with typical Italian houses painted in riotous colors. Walking atop the star-shape stone fortifications and bastions of the historic Venetian fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was worth a couple of hours. And I truly enjoyed the collection of fishing boats, motors, fishing nets, and historic photos at the tiny Museo della Pesca, where the traditional life and culture of the fishing village is so well documented.
Unfortunately, after one day I was somewhat bored. The old quarter is very touristy. Most buildings are occupied by shoes and clothing stores, souvenir shops, and cafes. I headed farther afield, strolling along the eastern shore, which led me past narrow shingle beaches backed by massive campgrounds crammed with row after row of travel campers. Beyond the campgrounds I found Gardaland – a huge amusement park – which held absolutely no interest for me. The following day I struck out along the western shore, which offered a broad, tree-lined promenade. On the point shown in the photo above, I lunched at an outdoor cafe with a delightful view of the lake. It was the most enjoyable day of my three-day stay. If I’d had more time, I suspect I would have enjoyed taking a boat tour to the northern end of the lake, with its surrounding Dolomite Mountains. But I’m not sure even that would lure me back to Lake Garda.