Bolzano, Italy may have been our destination for day one of our European road trip, but that didn’t mean we were ready to settle in for the evening. The day was still young, and that road was calling us back; it’s voice singing to to us like a siren, drawing us southward to the riviera of the Dolomites: Lake Garda. So off we set, thirsty for more adventures.
The sheer, rocky cliff faces of the Dolomites bore down upon us as on all sides, pushing us south, as we swept down the valley, parallel to the river. Medieval forts kept a close eye on us; as soon as we were out of view of one, another appeared to take watch, perched precariously on a jagged outcrop in the distance. The hour and a half that it took to travel to our destination passed rapidly. Vineyards carpeted the lush, fertile valley floor, the river gently coursed alongside, and the dramatic spires of the Dolomites ensured that there was always something to look at, to comment on, to smile about. Before we knew it, signage pointing to Lake Garda heralded our arrival.
On rounding the bend our breath audibly caught in our throats. The surrounding mountains suddenly gave way to an open expanse of water, sheer granite cliffs sliced into the shimmering lake, which stretched far off into the horizon into the golden hue of the low sun. An impulsive, instinctive swerve into the lookout point that suddenly appeared around the bend occurred and all of a sudden this vista greeted us. Hello Lake Garda.
Impatiently descending into the township, the car was parked, change thrown at the ticket machine, and we were on the lakefront in a flash. The sun was losing its strength by now and angry clouds were rolling in. We held time close on its leash, cautious that it should not escape us too soon.
It’s easy to see why Lake Garda embodies the Italian dolce far niente (the sweet idleness of life). Lakeside promenades, medieval castles and picturesque little villages dot the impressively rugged shoreline. Sailboats bob happily in the harbour against a backdrop of verdant woods stretching up to the towering cliffs.
Angry storm clouds rolled ever closer up the lake towards us, a warning to seek shelter and, with that, aperitifs. Prosecco for the ladies. Campari for the men. Storm watching for all.
The fading light reminded us that it was time for dinner, but upon entering the old town with its narrow, cobbled lanes and its pastel hues, we couldn’t really shut ourselves up just yet.
The fierce opening of the skies cut our wanderings short and we ducked into a nearby pizzeria for the most delicious, simple, traditional fare. Great food. Great wine. Best friends.
That was it for day one — what a day! Stay tuned for day two of our European road trip.
Have you been to Lake Garda or any of the Italian lakes? Share your experiences below!