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Peschiera del Garda on the Gardasee, Italy

Monday, June 5, 2017 - 12:45pm by Lolo
122 miles and 2.5 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


The GardaseeThe GardaseeBefore yesterday we had never heard of the Gardasee. I hadn’t come across it during my pre-trip research, so it never made it my proposed itinerary. Instead, we learned about it last night in our Venice campground, while doing dishes at the campground sinks -- which by the way, is a great way to not only get your dishes clean, but to socialize and learn from your fellow campers. We got to talking to the gentleman scrubbing away next to us about where we might be heading next. He was from Germany, like practically everyone else in the campground, and suggested that we might like the Gardasee, Italy’s largest lake, which was only a little more than 2 hours away along our intended route.

Not being locked into a set itinerary, which is a wonderful luxury, we did some research on our own as to campgrounds on the lake, and found Bella Italia, on the southern shore of the lake in the town of Peschiera del Garda. It had great Yelp reviews.

Day 1 - Drive to Bella Italia and walk to and explore Peschiera del Garda

Camping Bella ItaliaCamping Bella ItaliaWhen we got to the campground, we were lucky enough to get an electric site just a short distance from the campground’s stone-covered beach. A friendly neighbor from Britain said that he and his wife were staying here for 3 weeks and used it as a base camp for taking various day trips throughout northern Italy. I’m glad we talked to him, because he told us about the picturesque village of Peschiera del Garda, which was just a mile-long stroll away, along the pedestrian walkway that ran alongside the lake. We would definitely have to check that out this evening.

Before going for a swim, we took a walk around the campground to check out the facilities. Like our Venice campground, there were five amazing pools, several great restaurants, numerous shops, and a full supermarket. Plus, a beach on the Gardasee. Now that the bar had been so dramatically raised as to what we expected in a campground, how were we going to go back to camping in the States?.

By the time we got back to our campsite, threatening clouds were moving across the lake, so instead of going to the beach for a swim, we hunkered down in the camper until it passed.

River Mincio in Peschiera del GardaRiver Mincio in Peschiera del GardaAfterwards, the skies cleared and we set off, as our neighbor suggested, to the little town of Peschiera del Garda. What a lovely walk it was -- lake on one side, restaurants, cafes, beautiful homes on the other.

After about a mile, we came to the village itself and crossed a bridge over the River Mincio, which flows into the lake. My phone rang, so while I was busy talking to one of our sons, Herb spent his time taking photographs of the houses and boats along the river in the evening light. I tend to get oblivious to my surroundings when talking on the phone, so when he showed me the photos afterwards, I was stunned with how beautiful it was, and a little sorry that I hadn’t paid more attention.

The bridge had brought us onto an island with old fortress walls dating back to the 16th century. These walls once enclosed a fortress that played a prominent role in the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic War, and the War for northern Italy’s Independence from Austria.

Remains of a 1st century Roman settlement unearthed in 1974Remains of a 1st century Roman settlement unearthed in 1974Crossing back over the bridge we wandered along the waterfront and then back into the pedestrian alleys where there were lots and lots of clothing and shoe shops - this is Italy after all and fashion plays a very important role. We had already noticed how Italian women love to dress up, much more than we had noticed in Germany. Most of the shops were quite chic and expensive, but I did find one outside rack of dresses where the prices were very reasonable - under 20 euro. It was closing now, but Herb promised we could come back tomorrow night.

We also stumbled upon a fenced off archeological dig, which we learned was the remains of a Roman settlement from the 1st century B.C. Peschiera del Garda, known as Acrilica in Roman times, was once a thriving trade community, and this site is where the important Roman road Verona-Brescia-Milano crossed the Mincio River. These ruins were discovered in 1974 by construction workers while excavating the area. Today the area is fenced off and protected for public viewing.

I love Italy. Where else can you go clothes shopping and Roman ruin viewing on the same block?

Day 2 - First run in Europe, Campground beach, and dinner and shopping in Peschiera del Garda

Rainy Run to along pedestrian way to Peschiera del GardaRainy Run to along pedestrian way to Peschiera del GardaWe awoke to very cloudy skies and a bit cooler temperatures - the perfect conditions for a run. I love to run, but between the sightseeing and the hiking, there just hadn’t been the time or opportunity to even squeeze in a short one.

We set off on the pedestrian walkway back towards Peschiera, but kept on going through the town and up along the lake for another mile and a half before it started to rain. We turned around and headed back towards the campground. It wasn’t raining too hard, so we continued past the campground for another mile to the town of San Benedetto di Lugana. It felt so incredibly refreshing to run in the rain, especially after spending the last two weeks in a European heat wave,

We still hadn’t swam in the Gardasee, so after getting back from our run, we got on our bathing suits, hobbled across the stone-covered campground beach and jumped in the water. Now our visit to the Gardasee was official.

Peschiera del GardaPeschiera del GardaLater that afternoon, we headed back into the town of Peschiera so that I could try on the dresses I saw last night. The store was somewhere in one of the back alleys off the waterfront, but fortunately Herb, who has a much better sense of direction than me was able to find it. I actually picked a different dress to try on than the one I had my eye on last night, and it was actually cheaper - only 14 euro! I couldn’t decide on sage or blue, so I got both.

Running to beat the stormRunning to beat the stormAfterwards we had dinner at a restaurant on the Mincio River called Al Canal. Herb pointed out that this restaurant was in the photo he had taken the night before when I was too busy on the phone to notice. It was quite lovely.

Just as we were finishing our dinner, the wind picked up and the skies grew dark and ominous. We could hear thunder rumbling quite nearby. The waiters began scurrying around, closing umbrellas and removing tablecloths. Guess it was time to go.

As we headed back along the pedestrian walkway, the skies opened and it began to pour. The thunder and lightning was right upon us now. I had been suffering through the heat for the last few weeks, so this weather was really invigorating for me - so much so, that I clutched my bag of dresses and began to run, and pretty fast, if I must say so myself. Herb kept calling for me to slow down. I had on this really nice pair of Keen sandals from REI that have Vibram soles, so I could do this much better than the Italian ladies in their chic high heels. I made sure to point this out to Herb later, as I had caught him several times admiring those heeled shoes. I never realized he liked ladies’ shoes that much.

We were totally drenched by the time we got back to the camper, but it had been so much fun!


The Gardasee, located in northern Italy, is Italy’s largest lake and a very popular holiday destination for Europeans. It is 32 miles long and 10 miles wide.

he picturesque town of Peschiera del Garda is situated on the lake’s southern shore at the mouth of the River Mincio. Its strategic location at the river’s mouth made it an important trading town for centuries. There is much history to discover here.

The town dates back to 1400 B.C., but had a flourishing Bronze Age community even before that. Its ancient Roman name was Acrilica, and in 1974 the remains of a Roman settlement were discovered here. This settlement was probably built around the 1st century B.C. in the place where the important Roman road Verona-Brescia-Milano crossed the Mincio River near the lake shores. These remains can be viewed today in a protected archeological area in the village.

Jumping forward several centuries, the town is surrounded by enormous fortress walls, in the shape of a five-pointed star, dating back to the 16th century. Originally built by the Scalgieri’s of Verona, over the years they have been added to by Venetians, Austrians, and Italians. The fortress played a prominent role in the late 18th century during the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary War, in the early 19th centuries Napoleonic War, and in the First Italian War of Independence during the 1840s when it was finally taken from Austrian occupiers.

Near the fortress, is the 16th century Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino, visited each year by thousands of pilgrims.

Today this picturesque old town on the lovely Gardasee is a very popular resort, with lots of wonderful cafes, restaurants, and shops to enjoy when not out having fun on the lake.

Peschiera del Garda on the Gardasee location map in "high definition"

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