Vivere sul Lago di GardaIyna Bort Caruso
The shoreline-hugging towns around Italy’s Lake Garda make an ideal base for exploring celebrated cities like Venice, Verona and Milan. And yet the medieval villages, ancient castles, thermal spas and resort towns around the country’s largest lake give holiday homeowners plenty of reasons to stay put.
Lake Garda, or Benaco as its known by locals, is situated in the middle of three administrative regions, Lombardy, Vento and Trentino Alto-Adige, and bordered by three wine regions including the famous Bardolino. The vines, along with olive groves, lemon trees and cypresses, thrive in the temperate climate. The area is sometimes overshadowed by the higher profile Lake Como as a vacation home destination; it needn’t be. Garda’s beaches are clean and inviting for swimmers and sunbathers. The lake’s famous winds, the northerly Pelèr and the southerly Ora provide cooling breezes and make Lake Garda especially popular with sailors and water sport enthusiasts.
Garda was formed by glaciers. The northern section of the lake has a fjord-like appearance with cliffs and mountains, while the southern shore is characterized by rolling hills. Some say it has both a Mediterranean and Alpine feel.
Towns along Lake Garda make popular summer homes for Italian urbanites and international buyers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland who are drawn to properties with lake views and shore access. Especially prized are villas that come with both private moorings and a private beach.
On the southern shore is Sirmione, a picturesque destination for hot springs and thermal baths since Roman times. Riviera Bresciana is on the lake’s western banks. A string of elegant towns includes Salò with its long and elegant promenade lined with cafes and restaurants. Riva del Garda is located in the northernmost tip, sandwiched between the lake and mountains, and a haven for rock climbers and hikers. The resort was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the dynasty’s influence remains evident in its architecture, food and culture.