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Recommended Places to Stay, Things to Do and Food to Eat in Garda Trentino:
Last year’s trip to Riva del Garda and the surrounding region – Garda Trentino was ostensibly a food trip. Somehow, though, we managed to pack in a lot more, despite dining in some fabulous restaurants and I suspect that any visitor to this part of Italy would be hard pressed not to fill their itinerary from morning to night. It’s an area that is, perhaps, best known for outdoor activities – mountain biking hiking and rock climbing in addition to water sports in the beautiful Lake Garda. But, Garda Trentino has a wonderful cultural heritage too, which is definitely worth exploring
Exploring Garda Trentino:
- If, like me, you are a water baby, try sailing or windsurfing. In Riva del Garda you’ll find the perfect location to try either sport for the first time – thanks to the unique geography the wind is quite predictable. I went sailing with Sailing du Lac.
- It’s up to you whether you pick the gentle option (as I did) and take a mirror dinghy out with an instructor, or don a wetsuit and go solo, with the instructor in their own boat alongside you. The centre has a range of sailing boats, wetsuits, and boards for hire, with or without an instructor and they even offer sail and bike hire options
- Arco, a few miles to the North of Riva del Garda, is a world famous climbing centre. You’ll find climbs suitable for all levels there. Though in my case all I managed was a walk up the hill to the Castle of Arco!
- The whole region is very popular with cyclists. There are easy routes which take you around Lake Garda or around some of the smaller neighbouring lakes like Lake Tenno. And there’s a whole network of mountain bike trails. If you can’t take your own bike, you’ll find bike hire shops in Riva del Garda where you can hire a range of bikes and equipment
- For a more leisurely way to explore, there’s an excellent lake ferry which operates on a hop on, hop off basis. If you buy the Guest Card Trentino, you can travel for free on certain routes and for a discounted price on other trips, in addition to getting discounts or free entry to the local attractions. Make sure you visit some of the pretty lakeside villages like Torbole and explore a bit.
- You can swim in Lake Garda or the nearby Lake Tenno, in wonderfully clear, fresh water. It was too cold to try while we were there – though we did see some brave souls in the water, stone skimming was the order of the day for most other than ducks and swans!
- For excellent spa facilities, head to the Lido Palace Hotel, where you can pay for a day membership and use their indoor and outdoor swimming pool and spa facilities, or indulge in some heavenly spa treatments. More about the hotel in where to stay.
- There are plenty of hiking trails, around the lake or up into the Dolomites and let you explore some of the traditional villages like Canale di Tenno. It’s a pretty hamlet where, if you are there at the right time of year (from the 12th to 20th August), you can enjoy a medieval reenactment called Rustico Medioevo
Places to Eat and Drink in Garda Trentino:
Garda Trentino is blessed with an excellent range of restaurants serving both contemporary and traditional food. I’ve covered some of my recommendations already but, there are plenty more to choose from.
- To the North of Riva del Garda, you’ll find the vineyards of Gino Pedrotti. A family run enterprise, they make some particularly fine local sweet wine. You can enjoy that and other wines from their range in their own bar, where they will serve you local meats and cheeses along with the wine.
- In Arco, head for il Ritratto. The menu there includes some contemporary takes on the local cuisine and you’ll find fine dishes prepared by Aldo.
- Viletta Annessa in Riva del Garda offers a range of traditional local dishes and has an outdoor rotisserie serving excellent grilled meat and fish. Sit outside on the pretty terrace and relax while you watch your steak being cooked in front of you.
- At Acetaia del Balsamico you can enjoy some excellent traditional pasta dishes sitting in the sunshine on the terrace. We watched in awe as the chef prepared a meltingly delicious carbonara with fresh pasta and eggs. And then we ate, looking down over Riva del Garda and the Lake.
- Leon d’Oro in the heart of Riva del Garda offers traditional food, pizza and dishes like this mushroom risotto in a parmesan basket, which I enjoyed while people watching the visitors to Riva del Garda
- Finally, if you are looking for the best place to buy food for a picnic, head for Agririva, where you’ll find a vast selection of local artisan products – food, wine and more. If you are anything like me you won’t be able to resist buying – even if it’s not for a picnic!
Where to Stay in Garda Trentino:
- We loved the stunning views from Acetaia del Balsamico. You’ll need to be fit enough to cycle up the hill or have a car to stay here as the hotel and restaurant is a few miles out of Riva del Garda. But, you may just want to stay put – there’s a stunning infinity pool and as mentioned, the food in the restaurant is superb. You can also learn about the production of Balsamic Vinegar – the owner Ivo started his own production of authentic Balsamic Vinegar using the same techniques of ever-reducing barrels that are used to make the famous Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. There are seven rooms and three suites to rent in the small guest house, all beautifully decorated in a contemporary style.
- If you prefer to stay in Riva del Garda itself Hotel Luise has a range of different rooms, again all with modern furnishings, wifi, and pristine bathrooms. On the top floor, there are a few larger rooms with amazing views out over Lake Garda. The hotel has an outdoor pool and a charming restaurant with a terrace. There’s an excellent continental style breakfast with a full range of local cheeses, hams, cakes and baked goods. In the evening, they will create a bespoke cocktail for you, based on your own tastes. And, the staff are friendly and very helpful. If you have any questions about the region they will go out of their way to help you.
- For a more traditional style, Hotel Villa Miravalle is also in the centre of Riva del Garda and offers a range of room options including suites, some with lake views, others with garden views. The furnishings are varied – from retro sixties chic to a more contemporary classic decor. There’s a pretty outdoor pool – and the restaurant is highly recommended.
- The ultimate in luxury can be found at the Lido Palace, where I enjoyed the fantastic spa facilities for an afternoon. A five-star hotel and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Lido Palace was first opened in 1899 and fast became the Belle Epoque holiday retreat of the Hapsburg Royal Family. A recent refurbishment means the hotel has a unique mixture of contemporary styling and traditional architecture and apart from the stunning spa, there are amazing public spaces including a fabulous bar and fine dining restaurant.
There are so many places to see in the world that for me, it is unusual to want to go back, especially within 12 months. But, that’s just what I am planning right now, to return for a second visit in early summer. And that must be the ultimate recommendation.
I was a guest of Garda Trentino Tourist Board for this trip
I flew to Verona with British Airways. There are direct flights to Verona from London with British Airways and Easy Jet. A transfer to Garda Trentino will take around an hour by car.
I stayed at Hotel Luise in Riva del Garda.
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