Lake Como is famous for fashion factories and George Clooney, but Lake Garda is actually the largest lake in Italy. Staying at the south end of the lake in Garda in Rivoltella, it is almost equidistant to drive there from the Milan airport as it is to drive to Lake Como. It took us about an hour and 40 minutes to drive.
Restaurants are all closed by 11pm but there is one open till midnight called Rossi & Rossi worth the stop if your flight gets in late as ours did.
Lots of people ride bike around the lake, we drove and parked to we could hit everything we wanted to in the 3 full days there. Parking is about 2 euro an hour except in Sirmione where its 16 euro past 6 hours. You need the full 6 hours there if you walk to the beach and ruins on the other side of town.
Scaliger Castle at the end of the peninsula, historically called the Grotto of Catullus since the poet used to live in the town. The castle fortification was built in the 12th century. Entrance is about 5 euro with student discounts available. It’s a good 20 minute walk around inside, and up to the top for the view.
Gelato – The gelato places were kind of expensive there which you figure since the place is s touristy. However, the servings are huge. Now we know to share, but it made for a good lunch at 5 euro per person.
The shops are again touristy, but the streets are cool to walk around. From the other side of the castle, is a path along the water that leads to the famous ruins, archeological site with museum and the famous beach, “Jamaica.”.
Villa Romana Grotte di Catullo – It was about 2 km to walk there from the town at Sirmione along the water, past the mineral baths that smelled like sulfur where the pipes came out into the lake. Entry fee was 6 euro per person which was worth it. The place is huge. It is the largest private villa by a noble person. The views of the lake are amazing from there too.
Giamaica Beach – From the archeological site entrance, there are stairs and a dirt path to get down to the rocky beach. After snagging a spot on the rock, it is tough to get out to the deeper part of water over the slippery slabs of rock, but it’s worth it. There is a bar down there too, only snacks, no real food. We didn’t bring food so when we got hungry, we ventured on.
Considering the prices are higher in restaurants in the touristy town of Sirmione, we ate beef jerky and figs we did bring with us in the car, and headed out to the brewery 20 min north.
Manerba Brewery – A large brew pub on the north side past olive oil farms and vineyards. The place is huge, with a big outdoor beer garden with big play areas for kids. They don’t have a formal tasting on the menu, but we asked and they do split the small sized portions with any samples you want. We tried 5. Our favorite was actually the wheat one. The food was basic, not italian, with salads, burgers etc.
View all the photos from the trip: click here.
Stay Tuned for Part 2- To be continued in Lake Garda…