The town of Limone is famous worldwide. Scientists study the DNA of its inhabitants to try to understand the secret of their longevity. Does it lie in the peace and beauty of the place, beloved since the nineteenth century by European aristocracy? Or in the inspiration of artists and writers, who came to pass the winter in the narrow streets of the old town and along the long walk high above the blue waters? Walk it yourself to find out, before you find a place to stop and eat. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Along the Gardesana coastal road you cannot fail to notice the “lemon gardens”, open in summer, but closed in the albeit mild winter. That entitled the ‘PrĂ de la fam’, or the ‘Meadow of Hunger’ to recall the poverty of the shore here in the past, is on the lake-front and in recent years has become a museum. Let yourself be intoxicated by the scent of lemons and enjoy the beautiful landscape before your eyes, perhaps accompanied by a few pages of ‘Lady Chatterley's Lover’, which DH Lawrence began writing while he was on vacation here.
Ecomuseo Limonaia PrĂ de la Fam - www.limonaiagarda.com
What better place to relax and enjoy the sunset than the terrace of the ‘Grand Hotel Fasano’ with its bright and welcoming spaces and unostentatious luxury. Luxury that is, however, evident in the attentive table and bar service, with cocktails made with fine fresh ingredients. Try an alcohol-free drink on ‘La Terrazza’ to savour all the flavour of freshly squeezed fruit, for a special toast to your 48 hours!
In the sultry days of summer the waterfront garden of the ‘Darsena’ is an ideal place to relax and chat pleasantly among friends. A cocktail in the cool breeze rising from the lake, with a selection of tasty tapas or perfectly paced sit-dinner, choosing typical Garda dishes reinterpreted by the chef Matteo Felter. To take in the beauty of the moonlight over the lake.
La Darsena - Via Privata Eugenio Bravi, 8, 25087 Barbarano di SalĂ˛ - www.ladarsena.biz
The day is almost over as we return to the Grand Hotel Fasano. The park and the lake, shines under the stars, welcomes you back. There is fresh linen on the bed and a fresh gentle breeze that just curls the edges of your room’s curtains, accompanied by scents of the garden. They herald those of the natural Aveda products, which will ensure you have a wonderful morning tomorrow in the ‘Aqva Spa’.
The room floods with the rays of the morning sun, a bountiful breakfast tray is framed by the blue lake beyond your room, and further behind the backdrop of Mount Baldo. Wrapped in a soft bathrobe, sip a hot coffee, enjoy the freshness of the fruit, the sweetness of the creamy petites pĂ˘tisseries, and, then, you’ll be ready to be guided through the five elements of Aqva Spa, a holistic experience of Infinity, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. An experience that could lead to a profound change.
Still slightly dizzy from your experience at the ‘Aqva Spa’, continue pampering yourself at the ‘Magnolia’ restaurant, which takes its name from the two old trees that provide shade in the large grounds of the hotel. Just a light menu so that later you can fully enjoy the lakefront pool and sauna. A first course of homemade pasta, accompanied by seasonal vegetables or grilled fish; have you already tried the fish of the lake?
Treat yourself to a stroll in the gardens of the ‘Shrine of Victories’, the ‘Vittoriale’. They are among the 100 Italian gardens selected by Expo2015 and have recently been declared “The most beautiful park in Italy”. The former owner, poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, once said, “I live within the four walls of a garden, where the most insignificant events are transfigured”. You'll be certain of this when you retrace your steps to the poet’s abode at the sunset hour, intoxicated by the scent of roses, oleanders and lemons, stopping to ponder the ship ‘Nave Puglia’ that juts out of the hillside as if ready to launch into the lake far below. Then you’ll feel ready to cast off into the wider world.
Fondazione Il Vittoriale degli Italiani - Via Vittoriale, 12, 25083 Gardone Riviera (BS) - www.vittoriale.it
The chef, Matteo Felter, is Garda born and bred, as are the dishes he proposes, albeit reinterpreted in a contemporary clever play of different textures and flavours, at the restaurant ‘Il Fagiano’, or ‘The Pheasant’. Trust his recommendations and let yourself be truly pampered in a dinner on the terrace. The aromas of his dishes will blend with those delicate scents of the centuries old park that surrounds the hotel.
The town of SalĂ˛ will seduce you with its gourmand side. Take the opportunity to breakfast with pastries, drinking chocolate or coffee at the terrace tables in the sun and facing the lake. And take a dose of vitamins to prepare you for a nice walk.
The town was the capital of the ‘Magnifica Patria’, or Magnificent Fatherland from 1426 to 1797, and enjoyed considerable autonomy under the Republic of Venice. Visit the ‘Loggia’, part of the ‘Palace of the Captain’ (now the Town Hall), and the splendid Cathedral, a fine example of the late Gothic. Hardly anyone knows that the candlesticks of the altar were forged from bronze cannons captured from the Turks at the battle of Lepanto, where SalĂ˛ fought alongside Venice. Also dating from this time are the long, narrow rowing boats, the “Bisse”, that you will see darting across the waters of lake.
It is said that Gasparo da SalĂ˛ (Gasparo Bartolotti, 1562-1609) was inspired by curved figure of the Gulf of SalĂ˛ when he created, from the lute, the now familiar shape of the violin. Dedicated to his genius is the Summer Music Festival of Garda, which also recently opened to new interpretations and sounds from artists such as Regina Carter, Luis Bacalov and PFM. Create your classical or experimental playlist and be lead by the notes along the lakeside and through the historic centre.
The downtown streets are a succession of boutiques, historic shops, little grocery stores and delicious pastry shops where you can buy gourmand local specialties, such as the purported favourite sweet of the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, the ‘Persicata’, or ‘Peach Sweetmeat’. And if you make a stop off at the old milliner’s shop, you can choose some twenties headdress to feel in the right mood for boarding the historic ‘Italia’ or ‘Zanardelli’ (www.navigazionelaghi.it), original turn of the century paddle boats.
Still not many know of the prized Black Truffle of SalĂ˛ (Tuber Melanosporum), collected from the local area of Alto Garda Bresciano. The parkland is perfect for truffles, and most of the Italian truffle species can be found here. If it’s the right season, try some at one of the local restaurants, or make a purchase at one of the boutique delicatessens and impress your friends once home.