One of the most beautiful roads in Italy, by the word of James Bond. On the Western Gardesana, carved out of rock dizzyingly overlooking the lake, it was a set for the film “Quantum of Solace” and cost the production, due to dangerous curves in the road, two whole Aston Martins, which plunged headfirst into the lake!
A particularly spectacular section is that from Tignale to the hamlet of Tremosine, in the gorge carved out by the river Brasa, a Dantesque cut in rock and vegetation that climbs up through the mountain. The choice is yours: cruise it in a convertible with a Bond girl at your side or don your hiking shoes and go it by foot.
Once in Tremosine, a balcony on the lake, the walking possibilities multiple before your eyes. What might be a useful is a good map of the Alto Garda Park for discovering the most panoramic sights, and a snack at the ready in your bag, in case you get the munchies. Perfect for the latter is the local bread and Formaggella di Tremosine cheese, which has a lovely soft texture, or the harder Garda. A tasty picnic with a lake view.
After a day of trekking, turn back to the lake for dinner. There is the secluded lakeside resort of Gardone Riviera, famed since the turn of the 19th century, but recently renovated by the architect Paolo Burgi. Or try the more lively and trendy Salò, whose terrace bars and restaurants embrace the entire Gulfo. Choose a menu that includes lake fish specialties such as whitefish, pike and perch. Or the more uncommon (only found in Garda Lake) Garda carp, with soft and tasty flesh, for that “so local” taste.
“The roses of the Vittoriale are waiting for you to blossom”, wrote Gabriele D'Annunzio to one of his (many) lovers. Today they wait for you. The park is an explosion of scents and colours, flourishing with roses, bougainvillea, lemon and olive trees. Ponder the many quotes and inscriptions among the sculptures of the garden, practically a literary work in the open, which, last year, hosted the experimental exhibitions ‘Rassegna d'Annunzio’ and ‘Gardini di Pan’ (www.vittoriale.it/giardinidipan). Recent winner of “The most beautiful park in Italy”, it is continually creating new spaces, and has been included among the 100 gardens featuring at EXPO 2015.
Let yourself be surprised by the contrast between the park, all light and frivolity, and the home of the poet, named the Priory, opulent and imbued with peculiar dark shades. A guided tour will allow you to understand how this House Museum reflects the life and works of the poet, but also the diverse symbology of each room. Enter from the Vestibule, with ancient walnut stalls, pass through the Mask room and the Music room, full of Chinese furnishings, just as the Leda room, and onto the ambiences of the Zambracca and the Veranda of Apollino, where your will lose your gaze in an infinite number of objects and in the magnificent Blue Bath. In the Officina, or Workshop, the marble face of the famous Italian actress Eleonora Duse remains a silent witness.
After visit the Secret Museum of D'Annunzio (under the amphitheatre) to fully understand the poet and man. On display are his splendid house-robes, bathrobes, day-clothes and pictures of lovers, and an almost infinite collection of shoes. D’Annuzio said of himself, “I am an animal of luxury, and I need the superfluous like I need breath”.
The Amphitheatre, setting of the internationally important Vittoriale ‘Tener-a-mente’, or ‘Keep-in-mind’, Festival of (www.anfiteatrodelvittoriale.it), was chosen by the poet to be at the most panoramic position of the park. From here you can see the lake, Garda Island, Mount Baldo, the peninsula of Sirmione and the evocative Rock of Manerba, in which Goethe thought he recognized the profile of Dante.
Fondazione Il Vittoriale degli Italiani - Via Vittoriale, 12, 25083 Gardone Riviera (BS) - www.vittoriale.it
After a visit to the ‘Shrine of Victories’, the Vittoriale, continue with a path of introspection, peace and relaxation. On the morainic hills above Lake Garda, stands the Abbey of Maguzzano. A place of worship in Roman times, is was set on fires by the Hungarian forces before the first millennium, ravaged by Visconti troops and finally rebuilt at the end of the 1400s. And so we see it today, Renaissance architecture with an elegant cloister. Today, the new luxury is silence.
Abbazia di Maguzzano, via Maguzzano 4, Lonato (BS) - tel. 030 9130182 - www.abbaziadimaguzzano.it
The cuisine of Lake Garda, especially in recent years, has realized the potential of its quality local ingredients, and thanks to talented young chefs has begun experimenting with new directions. The results have been excellent and have earnt Michelin stars. For this evening, follow the stars and pamper yourself in one of the restaurants listed by “The Red Guide”.
Go in search of “pure pleasure”. Today, there is a growing passion for quality olive oils, which is gradually beginning to spread the “Culture of Olive Oil”. In dietary trends and gourmet creations, quality olive oil is ever more present. And the craftsmen of olive oil are returning to their origins. So it was for Frantoio Montecroce. Ask Paolo Venturini about his family’s four generations of commitment and the mid-century revival intent on bringing old varieties back to life.
Visit the company, which, although small in size, is one of the most important in its sector in the whole world. Here you will find elegant oils with fresh and almond aftertastes, a real joy for the palate. Professional tastings and company visits will lead you to the discovery of an important piece of Italian culture.
Frantoio Montecroce, Viale Ettore Andreis, 25015 Desenzano del Garda BS, tel. 030 991 1504 - www.frantoiomontecroce.it
Don’t forget to pack your golf bag into the car! The greens of Lake Garda are fun and beautiful, thanks to their lush environment and mild climate that allows play all year round. Do you prefer the panoramic views from the rocky Alta Garda or the rolling hills of the southern part of the lake? Or do you just fancy a great lunch at the clubhouse?