Friday, August 24, 2007

July 2007 - Lake Garda, Italy - The World's Bluest Lake

On a particularly hot day in Verona, we decided to take a day trip to Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake, to cool off a bit. Lake Garda is a long, tear-dropped shaped lake about 20 miles west of Verona. The lake "drips" to the south and along the drop's fat, rounded (southern) shore lie some beautiful, characteristic villages and some of Italy's largest and most popular amusements parks, which I of course wanted to visit.
The train took us to a town called Peschiera situated at the southeastern point of the lake. Here's Casandra in front of the one of the canals that runs through the town and out to the lake. The buildings in Peschiera were very colorful and the water was an amazing turquoise color. We couldn't believe we on a lake! Peschiera seemed like a place where mostly Italians, rather than other Europeans or Americans, come for brief vacations or long weekends.
After having a light lunch in Peschiera breathing in the cool, crisp sea-like air, we hopped on a ferry to visit the nearby ancient Roman town of Semione, which sits at the northern tip of a long, skinny tract of land that sticks out from the center of the lake's southern shore. After crossing the southeastern portion of the lake (quite a large, open body of water), we cruised around that northern tip (above) to the far side where Semione was situated.
As we passed the tip, we could see the ruins of a Roman fort (above) on a rocky hill above a long beach that wrapped around the tip.
Once we rounded the northern tip, we spotted the town of Semione, . . .
characterized by its colorful buildings and stout medieval towers. When we stepped off the ferry, we were greeted by palm trees and colorful, neatly planted flowers. The buildings that surrounded the square were painted in odd yet interesting colors.

Here's Casandra walking through one of the town's bougaineville- and ivy-clad medieval gates.
And here she is on the other side of town at the beach with a medieval watch tower in the background.
But for the calm waters, the majestic mountains along the opposite shore, and the family of ducks swimming beside you, you would think you were in the Mediterranean. We enjoyed this "beach" for much of the day.
Later in the afternoon, when it got a little cooler, we walked back across town to the marina and hopped in another ferry for a two-hour tour of the southern portion of the lake. The lake shore is lined with layer upon layer of smooth tree-covered mountains . . .
and sharper peaks and rocky promontories.
As we crossed the widest portion of the lake, we saw what appeared to be a shoot for a James Bond flick.
At times it seemed as thought the helicopter was having trouble keeping up with the speed boat, but then it would zip around, a few feet from the water, and cut off the boat, forcing it to make sharp turns in the opposite direction.
Here's Casandra in front of one of those tree-covered rocky peaks as we approached the opposite shore.
Our first stop was the town of Garda after which the lake was named.
As we got closer, we saw some beautiful villas and boats, . . .
including this Riva Aquarama - a gorgeous modern Italian version of the classic wooden hulled boat, and . . .
a Cigarette - the obnoxiously-painted, engine-roaring race boats made famous in the 80s and on Miami Vice.
But most of the boats docked in front this relatively quiet town were of the sailing type. The buildings of Garda were painted in pastel colors and interspersed with medieval towers.
The next town we visited was Lasizes, which like Peschiera, was split by a canal that let out into the lake.
Nearby, protecting the marina and town center, was a medieval fort.
Here, you can see the fortification along the shore.
As we cruised away from Lasizes and towards Peschiera where we started, we found ourselves almost completely surrounded by mountains.
The shoreline was so amazing, I couldn't stop taking pictures. I have at least 20 others just like this one.We also passed Italy's largest amusement park - Gardaland. Here, you can see some of the rides (that I didn't get to go on).
As the sun began to set, the water began to shimmer.
It was one of the prettiest and most tranquil sunsets that we've experienced in Italy.

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