To Canale di Tenno, featuring stone arches and nature-rich walks
A romantic weekend in a medieval village, a stone’s throw away from Lake Garda
SPRING – As you travel along the road from Riva del Garda to Lake Tenno, you suddenly see a group of stone houses on a rocky spur: this is Canale di Tenno, a small medieval village not far from the more renowned Lake Garda. It is small but brimming with charm.
From afar, against the backdrop of rocky spurs and the mountains, Canale di Tenno looks like a painting, with remote and atmospheric traces of the past. Running balconies overlooking quiet lanes, barrel vaults, underpasses and colourful geraniums spilling out of window boxes: the quiet village is built of stone, wood and iron and is well worth exploring. Due to these very characteristics, Canale di Tenno has been included in the list of I Borghi più belli d’Italia (the association comprising the top Italian small towns and villages of historical interest).
It is an ideal destination if you want to devote some time to yourself: a wonderful break during which you can walk to the lake, hike in the mountains, but also be enticed by the traditional carne salada e fasoi, a typical dish of this area. Two days to recharge your batteries, as many painters have done since the 1960s, staying at Tenno’s Casa degli artisti (Artists’ House) searching for inspiration.
Where is it?
3 things to do:
Go for a walk to Lake Tenno
Drink a glass of wine at the Locanda del Borgo
Take photos of Lake Garda from the Rifugio San Pietro (mountain hut)
- Couples of all ages
- It is listed in the list of I Borghi più belli d’Italia (the association comprising the top Italian small towns and villages of historical interest)
Rustico Medioevo (The Rustic Middle Ages), in August
Mercatini di Natale (Christmas Markets), in December
Saturday morning, with hiking boots on your feet
After parking your car, in a short distance from the entrance to the village, you are ready to explore its alleys and narrow streets. Canale di Tenno is a small, tranquil treasure trove of surprises, also in the surrounding area.
That’s why we recommend you start this itinerary with a short, easy downhill walk. In about half an hour, you will reach the nearby Lake Tenno. This small physical effort will be rewarded by a precious prize. The lake is in fact one of the “favourite spots” photographed by landscape photographers, due to its magnificent emerald-green to sapphire-blue water. A peculiarity: there is a secret island in the lake, which appears only when the water level is very low. It is called the “1986 Island,” because it was first noticed that year.
Once you arrive at Lake Tenno, you can take a break and, in summer, you can also go for a swim.
You now have two options: you can walk around the lake (about an hour) and then return to Canale di Tenno and stop there or, from the village, continue along path n. 406, to reach the Rifugio Monte Calino “San Pietro” (mountain hut). The hike from the lake to the mountain hut takes about one and a half hours (with a height difference of 400 m).
Your effort will be well rewarded (in all senses). Firstly, by the vista as from Monte Calino you can enjoy a wonderful view on Lake Garda. It’s almost as if you could touch it by stretching out your hand. And then there is the cuisine of the mountain hut, where you can enjoy a delicious dish of canederli surrounded by breathtaking nature. You certainly deserve this after your walk!
Saturday afternoon, touring around the village
After the beautiful morning walk, the ideal thing would be to spend a relaxing afternoon discovering Canale di Tenno.
The first must-see is the Casa degli Artisti “Giacomo Vittone”. Giacomo was an artist who at the end of the 1960s chose the village as “buen retiro”, a pleasant place to relax and find inspiration in. Many painters and sculptors still stay at Canale di Tenno, paying for the hospitality they are given with their works of art, thus contributing to enrich the collection of the “House”, which also hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
The second is the Museo degli Attrezzi Agricoli (Museum of Agricultural Tools), housed in the “Aldo Gorfer” Centre, which is named after the Trentino journalist and writer. The museum allows you to understand the hard work in the fields, haymaking and harvest operations in this area in the past. Here you can find out what far filò means, that is when the peasants used to get together in the warm cowsheds to talk, spin wool and tell stories and tales, which were vividly remembered by the village children.
As you wander through the alleys, you will certainly come across an odd statue depicting four men who seem to be talking to each other. It is a monument that celebrates the “Vicinia delle Ville del Monte”, an ancient form of autonomous administration, which included Canale di Tenno and the surrounding villages.
After seeing all this, what about sipping a glass of good wine at the Locanda del Borgo, in the small village square? It is the best way to immerse yourself in the village atmosphere!
It’s dinner time
If you are a lover of meat dishes, you must try the traditional Trentino carne salada dish made in this area. The dish is composed of very thin slices of high-quality beef, served raw, or slightly griddled, seasoned with a drizzle of oil; Garda oil would obviously be best. It is a very tasty, savoury dish, thanks to the distinctive technique that is used to season the meat with salt and spices for a certain period of time. The dish should ideally be eaten with beans (called fasoi in the Trentino dialect).
If talking about typical dishes has whet your appetite, here are two places where you can dine:
The first is the agritur Calvola (an agritourism establishment), which is a ten-minute walk from the small square of Canale di Tenno. Here you can savour carne salada and excellent rabbit, while enjoying a beautiful view of Lake Garda.
The other place we would recommend is the Trattoria del Bacon, near Lake Tenno (5 minutes by car). It is ideal if you want to try the area’s traditional typical dishes: canederli (dumplings made with stale bread and pieces of speck, cheese etc.), strangolapreti (“priest-stranglers”, small dumplings) and goulash served with polenta.
After a nice, hearty breakfast and a last tour around the village, you are ready to explore the surroundings.
A fifteen-minute drive takes you to the magnificent Cascata del Varone, an impressive waterfall you can admire by walking through rocks and caves, thanks to a system of stairs and walkways, surrounded by a delightful garden. A fascinating setting, which was a must-see for many European travellers in the nineteenth century and from which Thomas Mann drew inspiration for his novel “The Magic Mountain”.
The second stop, less than a ten-minute drive away from the waterfall, is Riva del Garda, an elegant town on the shores of the lake, which is very popular in summer, attracting tourists from all over Italy and northern Europe. Here you can stroll along the lakefront, eat an ice cream and perhaps stop for lunch at one of the restaurants or pizzerias overlooking the marina.
Before leaving though, do not forget to visit the Rocca di Riva, which houses the Museo dell’Alto Garda (Museum of the Upper Garda Area) that encompasses the Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) and boasts artefacts dating back from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages and right up to today.
The last stop of our journey is the town of Arco (fifteen minutes by car from Riva del Garda), which is known by rock-climbing enthusiasts all over the world. This is where the Rock Master Festival is held every year in September.
Once you arrive there, we would suggest you take a walk to the Castello di Arco (castle). You leave from the centre of the small town and the forty-minute walk is set amongst olive trees. It is a bit uphill, but the view from the top is truly magnificent!
Where to stay
- B&b La Piazzetta di Canale: This is the only B&B in the village. It is the ideal place to get away from it all for a weekend and relax in the lovely silence of the village. Special mention should be made about breakfast here because you have a superb view of the Tenno valley.
- Casa Calvola: these apartments, in a renovated stone house, are located about 500 metres from the village. The spectacular view of Lake Garda has made Casa Calvola a favourite choice amongst artists and painters.