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Report 678: Italia - Umbria, Lago di Garda, Lago di Como & Visits with Friends in Empoli and Coccaglio

By girasoli from Hawaii, Spring 2005

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Page 14 of 24: Last Day on Lago di Garda

photo by girasoli


The weather has been HOT all week but I prefer hot to cold weather and so I can't really complain! I ate my breakfast quickly outside on the deck as I decided to take the early boat to try to visit two more towns midway up on the lake before the early afternoon closure of most of the town. After buying my ticket, I waited for the boat to arrive. The boat was a “rapido” boat and it arrived at Torri del Benaco about an hour and 40 minutes later.

The town of Torri was just waking up when I arrived about 9:30. I stopped to get a cappuccino scuro as the coffee at my hotel is not very good; I have never figured out why most hotels do not make good coffee like the bars do. I also decided that the cappuccino scuro had too much milk for my taste and that I still prefer the espresso macchiato.

I walked around the town to take a few pictures and then went over to the Castle to go inside. The cost was three euro. The smallest amount I had was 10 euro. The women did not have change. I had a two euro coin and some change (but not adding up to three euro). She was very kind and told me that the amount I had was ok. I told her I was sorry again and she insisted that she was sorry for not having change!

The castle had a few rooms filled with ancient fishing information and a very interesting map of how the town was split up into parcels of land with the names of each family that owned the land back before Italy became united. I climbed the tower (4th tower I think now) and walked around at the top. This castle also had a second tower that you could climb after reaching the top of the first tower and also a walk way to walk around the castle wall at the top.

While at the top, I saw the traghetto/car ferry arriving and decided to see if I could catch it instead of staying in Torri for another hour or so. There are two car ferries that cross the lake in two different spots. Here between Torri and Maderno and also farther up the lake between Limone and Malcèsine. Because the ferry took a while to board all the cars I ended up having enough time to reach the ferry and buy my ticket before it left.

The ride to Maderno took about 20 minutes. I had not heard of this town before, but saw it on my way back to Sirmione on Tuesday and thought it would be an interesting town to visit. The town was very beautiful but soon after I arrived, I realized that there was not much to see by foot and so after taking a few pictures and walking around, I went back to the boat dock to take the next boat back to Sirmione. I also experienced my first “hole in the floor” Turkish toilet on this trip in the town of Maderno.

While waiting for the boat, I decided that I might as well go past Sirmione to Desenzano del Garda since I only spent about 20 minutes or so there on Monday when arriving from the train station. Of course I was not thinking about the fact that the town would be closed when I arrived! The boat ride was almost two hours. I sat out in the sun by the edge of the boat catching some rays while enjoying the wonderful views of the lake and also took a few pictures along the way.

I was very hungry when I arrived in Desenzano. I bought a peach gelato at Vivaldi’s, the recommended gelataria in the area. It was delicious! I then wandered the town in search of a place to get some lunch. I wanted more than just a panino or slice of pizza. I finally came across this interesting restaurant called the Cactus with glass floors with sand/rocks below the glass. The restaurant was empty except for four Italian men sitting at a table. It is unusual to find a restaurant open later in the afternoon that serves all courses. I had a wonderful pasta with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and rucola, a great find!

I headed back to the boat dock and waited for the next boat to take me back to Sirmione. By this time I was exhausted! I took a short nap when I returned and then started packing my things. My dear friends, Katia and Guido, who I met years ago at a train station in Vernazza while waiting for an hour late train, were coming to pick me up since there was a nationwide train strike planned to start Thursday night and continue all through Friday. My original plans were to take the train on Friday to get Coccaglio where Katia lives but with the planned train strike, they thought it would be easier to pick me up the night before (the strike by the way was cancelled at the last minute). I was able to arrange with the hotel for them to come into the town and park at the hotel.

It was great seeing Katia and Guido again!! We ate dinner at the same restaurant that I ate at the night before. Each of us ordered a pizza. We had a wonderful dinner and then we went back to my hotel to gather up my bags and Guido drove us back to Katia’s house.

I had a wonderful time on Lake Garda. Perfect weather, fun castles to visit, beautiful views. There was so much more that I was not able to see… I will have to return again on another trip! I think that the next time I visit Lake Garda, I will stay somewhere in the middle or at the top of the lake.

Photo - Maderno

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