A feast for mind and body
Lake Garda and its surrounding towns and villages are a treat for foodies and culture vultures alike
It goes a lot further than delicious ice cream and the pleasures of the evening passeggiata along the lake shore. Once you start exploring Lake Garda’s hinterland, you’ll find all sorts of unexpected pleasures.
Take the olive groves for example. They’re the last thing you’d expect to find on the edge of the Alps, but there they are, warmed by the lake’s Mediterranean climate and responsible for the world’s most northern olive oil. It’s no ordinary oil, either. Thanks to the unusual growing conditions it has an intense green colour, low levels of acidity, and light, fruity taste.
There are many other delicious things to eat and drink here – white Nosiola wine, sweet Vino Santo, honey and carne salada, made from top-quality local beef. Meanwhile, inland stands the hilltop village of Canale di Tenno. It’s a tightly-clenched knuckle of stone houses and cobbled streets, that looks like it’s been teleported in from Tolkien's Middle Earth. Backed by mountains, and with stunning views down to the lake, it’s a memorable spot for lunch.
Nearby, you’ll sample a similar atmosphere of antiquity in the town of Arco. Famous for its cliff-top castle and rock-climbing festival, Arco was also the birthplace of Giovanni Segantini – whose ravishing Alpine landscapes and symbolist works made him one of the most famous painters in Europe at the end of the 19th century. Arco’s G.Segantini City Gallery features a permanent space dedicated to his life and work.
Finally, don’t forget a visit to the Museo delle Palafitte in the Val di Ledro. It examines life in the Bronze Age, when the valley’s inhabitants lived in houses built over the lake on stilts.