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lake garda, italy

Updated: May 10

My first weekend getaway, after moving to Munich, was to Lake Garda (that's 'Lago di Garda' if you're Italian or 'Gardasee' if you're German). This is the largest lake in Italy, located in the north of the country, on the edge of the Dolomites. It was formed by glaciers and is known for its crystal clear water.

I flew into Verona (about a 40-min flight from Munich) on a Friday evening. No immigration, on either side, was necessary, as both Germany and Italy are in the EU and part of the Schengen area.

As I was landing late at night, I didn't know where I was going and I haven't driven much in about 10 years, I decided it would be best to book a car service to take me to my hotel. Zip Transfers were the cheapest option I could find. It was €142 round-trip, for two people inclusive of luggage. Both drivers were on time and friendly.

I stayed a pleasant hotel called Hotel Olivi, in Sirmione, a resort town on the southern bank of the lake.

The first stop on my tour of Lake Garda, after a slow start on Saturday morning, was the famous Scaligero Castle, a medieval fortress in the historic center of Sirmione.

Since I was starving, and it was directly across from the castle, Pizzeria Scaligeri's was selected for lunch. It turned out to be an excellent choice. Both the artichoke/parma ham bruschetta starter and the pizza I had were delicious. I washed it all down with a few glasses of Lugana (local white wine).

Next on my self-created tour was a ferry ride. It cost €23.40 for an all-day, multi-stop ticket.

I intended on taking the 14:06 to Lazise, but accidentally got on a slightly earlier boat, going the opposite direction.

Queue to get on the ferry at Sirmione

I ended up in Desenzano, which turned out to be a lovely spot for a lakeside drink. I had an hour to kill before the next ferry left.

The second and final boat stop was Garda, where I had some wanders and sundowners.

At 19:20, I took the last ferry back from Garda to Sirmione (which took about 45-minutes).

I had just enough time to get freshen up, back at the hotel, and then walk to dinner at La Speranzina, a lakeside Michelin star restaurant. It was amazing! After the meal, I was so full, I didn't even have room for gelato!

On Sunday, it was less sunny, but still warm, so I decided to walk to the north end of the Sirmione peninsula and visit the Grotte di Catullo (the entrance fee was €8).

These ruins of a Roman villa were built at the end of the 1st century B.C. and the beginning of the 1st century A.D.

Just down a short trail from the entrance to the Catullo Caves I found Jamaica Beach, with its slabs of rock and turquoise water.

Overlooking the beach was the Jamaica Beach Bar, which had fun music playing and offered generous pours of Prosecco.

Finally, it was time for the last lunch in Lake Garda before heading back to the airport. I had pasta with truffles at Ristorante il Girasole. Mmmmmmm!

Back to Munich I went, fat and happy!


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