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Tuesday June 5, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

PlanetSKI will shortly be heading to the mountains in the summer. We're looking back at some of our adventures from last year.



Happiness is .... sitting by the lake in Bardolino, drinking in the ambiance of Italy, sipping a long glass of Aperol Spriz, and watching the sun go down across Lake Garda.

Our usual exploits on PlanetSKI are in the mountains so a visit to one of the nearby Italian lakes made a refreshing change.

Instead of being on the mountain, I was beside a lake looking towards the Dolomites and loving every minute.

The sky was turning pretty shades of orange and pink as I reflected on the last few days I had spent in the area.

In contrast to skiing, the action was somewhat laid-back, but you can't expect to do a lot when the temperature is sizzling.

The experience, however, was more cultural and packed in a different way.

So to unpack my exploits on Lake Garda.... what did we do?

It was a blast on my senses.

We tasted delicious local food, drank Prosecco, sipped fine wines, drank a lot while wine tasting, we made excursions to historic sights, took a bike ride round the stunning lake front, and spent an evening at the Opera.

We also had a whistlestop tour of beautiful old Verona that included the Roman ampitheatre, wondering around the market.

While exploring parts of the old town of Verona we paused briefly to visit 'Juliet's balcony' where hundreds of tourists crowded into a tiny courtyard to take selfies on Juliet's balcony or closeby - it was a little odd but had to be seen.

As we all know, William Shakespeare never visited Verona but he took an existing story of the Capulet-Montague family fued and turned it into the tragic play of "Romeo & Juliet".

Juliet's balcony - 'wherefore art thou?Crowds at Juliet's balcony in Verona - 'Wherefore art thou?"
















Lake Garda is one of the larger Italian lakes flanked on one side by the rugged Dolomite mountains.

The lake sits at an altitude of 65m above sea level, but Monte Baldo is closeby with a cable car from its summit at 1,760m down to the lake at Malcesine.

The area offers hiking and mountain bike routes for different abilities that could be worth a trip on a hot day.

The lake is filled with crystal clear water from snow melt from the Dolomites.

It is said that the water flow takes 26 years to flow the full length of the lake, starting from the north of the lake then spilling into the Po river at Lake Garda's most southerly end.
In turn the Po river ends its course in the Adriatic Sea, south of Venice.

Its eastern shore, that we were visiting, is dotted with enchanting lakeside towns and villages such as Lazise where we were based, Bardolino, Garda and Sirmione with quaint old houses, bars and ice cream parlours galore, narrow cobbled streets and waterfront esplanades, and some pretty harbours that have a distinct Venetian feel.

Sight Seeing & Food - Lazise, Bardolino and Sirmione

Lazise, is one of the many little towns dotted around the lake's shoreline, that sits around 25 kilometers north west of Verona.

Lazise translates from Latin as 'the city on the lake'.

It has a 12th Century castle on its waterfront, a tiny harbour and restaurants tucked close beneath the crenellated walls and a maze of alleyways and cool cobbled streets - it's worth exploring.

Lazise - 12th Century castle rising from the water's edgeLazise - 12th Century castle rising from the water
















Further up the coast is Bardolino, slightly bigger, but with similar charm and history, a lot more restaurants and bars, the usual trinket shops and a small venue for Bite-size-Italian-Opera - after all Italy is the home of Opera.

We were to spend a little more time in Bardolino, exploring the town and feasting on divine canapes and nibbles at La Loggia Rambaldi where, among other delicacies, we were served a giant sandwich cake - that had to be seen to be believed.

Feast at La Loggia RambaldiFeast at La Loggia Rambaldi in Bardolino  ... with a sandwich cake!




















I even had the most divine pizza in Bardolino sporting the colours of the Italian flag, followed by an evening at the Opera.

Pizza then Opera - unusual combo but funPizza (yummmy), then Opera in Bardolino - an unusual combo but fun




















Earlier in the day, as we sat in one of the waterfront cafes in Bardolino waiting for the ferryride to Sirmione, I had my first Aperol Spritz.

For the uninitiated its a delightful mix of Prosecco, Aperol which gives it its distinct orange colour, a splash of soda, ice and an orange wedge.

But the choice of Spritz was enormous.

One drinks menu offered at least 10 Spritz's to choose between, some with a greater alcohol content than others including Aperol, Sambuco, Mint, Limoncello, Campari and many more flavours.

So, how to choose?

Mine was obviously going to be Aperol simply because orange is the PlanetSKI colour!  😎

And it was a firm favourite.

Aperol Spritz - a firm favouriteAperol Spritz - a firm favourite (and a raspberry icecream for a change!)




















Bordelino Waterfront Bardolino Waterfront... possibly little Venice!
















We were heading to Sirmione, a stunning Venetian town with its cobbled streets situated on a peninsular jutting into the lake.

The town is steeped in history, with a Roman villa at the tip of the promontory and a 13th Century Venetian castle (the Scaligeri Castle) at the other end complete with mitred crenellations along its battlements, which is characteristic of the region.

The best way to travel between the charming towns along the lake, and to get some stunning views of the area is by boat.

It is efficient, relaxing and a popular mode of transport, and in the heat of the day a welcome cooling experience.

The ferries bring in swarms of holidaymakers to Sirmione, who settle at waterfront cafés or line up for cones of local ice cream and jostle their way through the tiny, winding streets.

But be reassured, as quickly as they arrive... they leave.

Sirmione has a high density of ice cream parlours, and one in particular offered a staggering 99 flavours!

View from the ferry View from the ferry















View from the ferry View from the ferry
















... the mountains... hazy view towards the Dolomite mountains
















... on the water... on the water
















Sirnione from the ferry... towards Sirmione with the Scaligeri Castle (right)
















Roman Fort on Sirmione...... Roman Villa on the Sirmione peninsular













Snapshots of SirmioneSnaps including yours truly in Sirmione




















Tour dei Vini at San Martino della Battaglia....

A visit to the vineyard for a spot of wine tasting was on the cards.

We sampled a glass or two ... of the white, rose and red Lugana wine.

Truth be told it was a little more than a 'taste'.... but it was quite delicious.

Wine tasting - white, rose and red!Wine tasting - white, rose and red! One down and more to go















Parco Termale Villa dei Cedri at Cola ...

The Villa dei Cedri is a natural thermal spa set in a 13-acre garden that is open all year.

It is surrounded by stunning rare plants and trees including Thuya, Pines, Cedars, Cypress, Beech and Yew trees some of which are over 100 years old, offering shade and a cool, calm retreat in a hot climate.

The water temperature in the 2 thermal lakes and pools is between 37° and 42°C - its an unusual but welcome experience.

Under the gravel on the bottom of the lake is a network of roughly 6 kilometres of pipes, with 1,400 injectors, that carry the thermal water to all the points of the lake so the temperature is uniform everywhere.

Villa dei Cedri - calm oasisVilla dei Cedri - calm oasis
















Hot day - hot water at the Spa!Hot day - hot water at the Spa!
















Lakeside Bike Ride from Lazise to Garda and further if you have the inclination...

There is a 140km ride round Lake Garda, though you need to remember to take a head torch and tail lights as there are a series of tunnels en route.

In some sections you ride along the main road as well as travelling on the cycle paths, so it's a hard ride but scenic and worth the effort if you have the stamina.

Mussolini, the Italian dictator spent a lot of time around Lake Garda, and to ensure sufficient supplies arrived on his doorstep he constructed a serise of tunnels and roads that can now be cycled through.

There is a shorter 40km long cycling lane starting from Peschiera del Garda heading north, to Tori del Benaco.

But as time was pressing we opted for an even shorter 18km round trip heading from Lazise to Garda that passes through Cisano and Bardolino.

The route through Lazise and along the lake was stunning.

Cycling through LaziseCycling through Lazise















Cycling round Lake Garda Cycling round Lake Garda
















... from the cycle path round Lake Garda ... view from the cycle path round Lake Garda
















Cycling round Lake Garda..... cycling round Lake Garda














Wildlife haven on Lake GardaWildlife haven on Lake Garda
















Birdlife close to the shoreDucks and ducklings close to the shore
















On the shore of Lake Garda Yours truly on the shore of Lake Garda - Lazise

















Soaking up the sun on a private pontoonSoaking up the sun on a private pontoon
















Early morning view towards the mountains from my room in Hotel Bella LaziseEarly morning view towards the mountains from my room in Hotel Bella Lazise
















Early morning view towards the mountains from my room in Hotel Bella LaziseEvening view towards the mountains from my room in Hotel Bella Lazise
















As we were packing up to leave the hotel I picked up some leaflets from the lobby that promised more active pursuits within easy distance from Lazise.

The activites included Paragliding, Canyoning, Via Ferrata and a cable car ride between Malcesine and Monte Baldo ...... but these will all have to wait for the next trip.

Hotel Bella LaziseHotel Bella Lazise - perfect base for adventure
















See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number1 for ski news

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