Lake Garda is a beautiful spot nestled between Verona and Milan in the centre of Northern Italy. The increasing popularity of the Italian Riviera and the Côte d’Azur has left this Italian lake a relatively quiet resort, so no surprise we got our spa hotel with pools & luxurious gardens heavily discounted even at peak season through the discount site ‘Groupon’. We stayed up in the hills of in a tiny resort called ‘Gardone Riviera’, known for it’s opulent hotels and picturesque floral gardens. Once we were sat down with a nice cold mojito overlooking the lake, it was well worth climbing the absolute mountain of a hill up with our combined 50kg of luggage. Once we’d checked in we had a delicious poolside panini filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato & fresh basil.
In the evening we headed down the hills to eat at one of the lake front restaurants. Just back from the main Piazza we found a small place with a great selection of seafood and meat main courses. To start we had a huge bruschetta piled up with plenty of really ripe tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil & sea salt. I had a mixed seafood pasta made with clams, mussels, squid, prawns, tomato, garlic and a hint of fresh chilli. The shellfish gave the sauce so much flavour and the chilli was just right, not overpowering the delicate fish. Bekki had a chargrilled pork steak served with roasted potatoes, baby leaf salad, lemon & parsley. We haven’t really had much pork (prosciutto aside) so this was a welcome change from the endless beef we found at most places. For dessert we shared a classic tiramisu (we never get bored of tiramisu), which was beautifully light and had a good kick of Madeira. After dinner we found a bar overlooking the lake front for an evening drink before braving the hill – my extremely boozey Caipirissima was well worth the €6
Our breakfast was nothing special – the coffee was absimal and we got the usual cold meats & cheese buffet offering. However the tables had a wonderful panoramic view over the lake. Not wasting any more time we quickly headed down to the pool where we spent most of our second day with a couple more refreshing mojitos. Claire & Adam joined us by the pool around 4pm where we (kind of) enjoyed some killer 90% rum cocktails and an aperol spritz.
We managed to get a table for dinner in a little pizzeria near the lake front. The tables were packed tightly down a little side street, giving just a glimpse of the glistening lake. The pizzas were absolutely incredible – thin, crispy & wood fired with a huge choice of toppings. Mine was topped with mozzarella, pancetta, artichokes and gorgonzola which was a combination I’d never seen before, but it was definitely the best one I’ve had in Italy! The desserts, house wine and draught beer were cheap and delicious too. After dinner we went back to the same bar as last night for more drinks including some really good frozen daiquiris and the strongest gin and tonic ever made.
The main thing we learnt about Lake Garda that you can’t read in books is that they don’t understand the concept of measuring spirits – everything comes as strong as possible. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does come as a bit of a shock! That being said it was a beautiful location to relax before we hit the bustling fashion capital, Milan – our final major Italian city on the foodie tour.
Unfortunately I’m having a few blogging issues mainly because the wifi is so poor and I’ve smashed my phone, but you can follow our more up to date travels on my Instagram @eatwithenzo