The Veronese have the sea in own their backyard. However, this sea is actually a lake, Lake Garda, the largest inland body of water in Italy. It has always seemed a great privilege to live so close to a place where so many millions choose to go on holiday. It’s a special place of striking beauty which always holds a surprise. But, you need to know Garda to enjoy it to the full, starting with the beaches.
The most famous and beautiful beach on the lake is the Baia delle Sirene, (Mermaid’s Bay), which is a few kilometres north of the town of Garda. For years, it was pure adventure getting to this magical place of crystal clear water, immersed in an olive wood. First, one had to park illegally along the road. Then, you had to climb over a gate or squeeze through a hole in the fence and go down steep narrow pathways before getting to this somewhat Paradise.
For some years now, the location has been made legally accessible. There’s a parking fee and you need to pay as well for access to the beach, which is equipped with chairs and services. Its former wild charm is a bit lost, but the place has gained in terms of cleanliness and accessibility. And the beach remains the same, magnificent. It you find it particularly crowded, you can always opt for a more intimate and refined environment, such as Punta San Vigilio (San Vigilio Point), which is located a a few hundred metres before.
A bit further north, just after the promontory of Baia delle Sirene and shortly before the village of Torri del Benaco, there’s an ideal beach for those in search of peace and tranquillity. From the Gardesana road, you will see a simple sign: Lido Brancolino . Go down the steep stairs and you’ll find yourself in an oasis of peace, equipped with beach chairs, showers and a bar.
To get on these beaches, you need to pay a modest entrance fee. However, the beaches most frequented by people from Verona are free. One of the best known is the so-called “Cavalla” (the Mare), located just where the village of Garda begins. It can get quite crowded, especially on weekends, but you will almost always find a spot to spread out your towel before diving in for a refreshing swim.
There are also at least two other places of note in Garda for those who look for music and fun while at the beach. The first is La Motta. This has a kiosk that serves drinks and snacks and many people gather here for an aperitif. The clientele is very young. Crowded parties, especially on Friday nights, are a speciality of the house. The second is the Lido. The crowd here is a bit more mature. They come to dance and listen to live music.
One of the unwritten rules of Lake Garda is that the further north you go, the fresher and more transparent the water becomes. If you don’t believe it, try it. Go to Baia Stanca (Stanca Bay), just after Torri del Benac. Here, the lake has an almost emerald colour. On clear days, you almost seem able to reach out and touch the other side with your finger. From here up to Malcesine, it’s a complete succession of small rocky beaches with magnificent views. You’ll be overwhelmed by the choice.
The Garda experience, however, would not be complete without a stop on the way home for one last drink or dinner, or to trip the light fantastic on the dance floor. In this regard, many from Verona make a stop at Pedrera in Aff, which is just before getting on the motorway.
A dip in the water, a dry towel and a cocktail at sunset. From this point of view, those of us from Verona are truly blessed. We go on vacation every summer without even leaving home.