Size and various wind and water conditions from north to south are some of the things that make Lake Garda into a paradise for lovers of water sports.
The lake towns of Garda, Bardolino and Lazise are on the east shore of Lake Garda and overlook the Gulf of Garda in the south eastern part of the lake. Each has a rich history in this area where man has always lived and which has often been fought over by various nations thanks its strategic position and beauty.
Size and various wind and water conditions from north to south are some of the things that make Lake Garda into a paradise for lovers of water sports. The northern part has winds that are perfect for saling, windsurfing and kitesurfing, the southern part around Garda, Bardolino and Lazise has softer breezes that are ideal for different sports: water-skiing, wakeboarding, which is growing in popularity and is rather like snowboarding on water, boating in general, as well as canoeing and kayaking.
If you are looking for something different, why not put balance and strength to the test and try Vogata alla Veneta, or Venetian rowing, a traditional rowing discipline carried out standing up on ancient fishing boats called "bisse" whose origins go back to the Republic of Venice. This form of rowing was about to be relegated to the mists of time when a few enthusiasts from Lazise, Gargnano, Garda and Bardolino took it up again in 1967 when the Garda bisse boats took part in the Regata Storica in Venice and in 1968 the "Lega Bisse del Garda" association was founded to preserve it.
Due to its variety of depth and shape, Lake Garda is an ideal destination for lovers of scuba diving. It is a pass-time which can be surprisingly fascinating as there are mysterious wrecks lying on the lake bed and a massive variety of plant and animal life to explore.
As we describe these areas and its land and its characteristics, it is impossible not to dedicate time to the various cultivations in the area around Bardolino. There is a very fine local red wine going by the same name, which is known the world over as it has been exported for many years. It is perfect with many different dishes from this area and comes from a dark grape that is local to the area, Corvina Veronese, and is delicately fruity with a touch of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant and spices such as cinnamon, clove and black pepper.
There is also a rosé version of this wine called Chiaretto. During the first half of November the new wine is celebrated in an event that has been held for over 80 years , the Novello Festival. It gained recognition with DOC certification for Bardolino in 1987. Bardolino Novello is simply perfect with salami, soup and fried fish.
Local dishes, in fact, often feature lake fish and possibly it is on Lake Garda that the lake fish has reached its finest expression, often neglected on other lakes. This may well be due to the great variety of fish populating the lake: whitefish, perch, sardine, tench, eel, trout, pike and the rare “salmo carpio” a salmon-like fish which is only to be found in Lake Garda’s waters. Thanks to the superb raw materials, which once went to make up the poorer Veneto dishes, the cuisine of fine local chefs have made it into delicate specialties that are not only extremley tasty but also healthy too as they use simple methods of cooking and use top quality oil and herbs from the lands around the lake.
Roman remains, military constructions and castles, churches of various eras with different architectural styles, and many other testimonies to the past are to be found here and tell us of how man settled in and loved these generous lands so often fought over. The castle at Lazise is a case in point, a medieval fort built around the year 1000.
It has a long and eventful history being built as a fort, then housing the magistrates of the Republic of Venice. There are still today a couple of stones to their memory to be seen. Under the troops of Napoleon, at the end of the 18th century, it was converted into a factory for the production of gunpowder. The Austrians, on the other hand, sold it to a private owner who then divested it of its beauty and used it as a storing place for building materials. Despite this it is still one of the best preserved castles in the area and is a great place to visit on a sightseeing trip. Lazise also has a great little harbor with the Dogana Veneta, or Venetian Customs as it was once necessary for all vessels carrying goods from Lombardy to pass through as here they entered the Republic of Venice. Today it is a great place where fine events are organized.
The San Severo Church at Bardolino is not to be missed. It goes back to the 9th century as the remains in the crypt testify. Its marvelous position on the lake makes it truly special and scenic. Its bell tower is the original one and there are frescos inside the Church which are of particular interest, depicting the Apocalypse and the finding of the True Cross. The pretty little harbor and boats moored before the main square are truly picturesque and just not to be missed.
For art, literature and music lovers, Garda, Bardolino and particularly Lazise, are just a few minutes from the lovely city of Verona with its important Arena where the superb opera season is staged in summer, possibly one of the most famous venues in the world. And also the place where famously Juliet stood on her balcony and heard a poetic declaration of undying love from her beloved Romeo.
Garda is the pretty village on the shores of the homonymous lake, but Punta San Vigilio is of special interest. Owned by the Counts Guarienti of Brenzone, it is a superbly pretty peninsula which has historically been the destination of famous visitors such as Alexander of Russia, Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Prince Charles of England. Although it has parking for visitors, the best way to arrive is from the water as it has a fine pontoon and quay for private boats.
There is a villa, a church, a historical Inn, the harbor, a park and the Baia delle Sirene, or Bay of Mermaids, which is much loved by bathers and sunseekers alike. The church is dedicated to San Vigilio, the bishop of Trent who converted the lake folk to Christianity at the end of the 4th century. The lovely cypress-lined avenue approach with olive groves flanking them are truly gorgeous. The extremely well-tended garden is truly spectacular with busts and statues, nearly all by Gerolamo Campagna, as well as tablets and stones with Latin inscriptions testifying to the culture and fine taste of the villa’s founders.
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