Lake Garda, the largest Italian lake, is divided into three provinces belonging to three different regions: the south east belongs to the province of Verona, the south west area belongs to the province of Brescia and the north area belongs to the province of Trento. The latter is also known as Garda Trentino.
Garda Trentino refers to the north part of Lake Garda which includes the towns of Riva del Garda, Torbole, Arco, Nago, Tenno, Dro and Drena. It is the first region with a Mediterranean climate that visitors to Europe will come across on their way south. The north part of Lake Garda is the perfect setting for holidays, where it is easy to relax and have fun at the same time: sailing and windsurfing, mountain biking, trekking, nordic walking, free climbing and canyoning are just some of the sports you can enjoy there.
As you travel through the area you will come across ancient castles, medieval villages and natural landscapes, where the flavours of the food, wine and olive oil are still genuine.
From 4-star hotels to bed and breakfasts, from holiday apartments to campsites and even farm-stays, you will find the right holiday accommodation for you - there is something to suit everyone. Qualified operators in the outdoor activity sector will ensure that you get a made to measure service: courses to learn the various activities, guided excursions with qualified instructors, and hire of innovative equipment.
Riva del Garda, a town of around 16,500 inhabitants and twinned with Bensheim, is situated in the north east part of the largest of the Italian lakes, Lake Garda. Historically named "Ripa," in Roman times, it offers a wealth of historical evidence of its past. It is the ultimate tourist destination for many Germans and is the ideal place for an "activity holiday," where sailing sports take pride of place. In fact, the Garda Trentino area is the ideal place for outdoor sports.
Arco (17,000 inhabitants) is renowned for having been the residence of the Hapsburg family at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as being an excellent climatic cure centre. Today it is the domain of climbing and Rock Master, an international competition which was established twenty years ago.
The towns of Nago and Torbole are just two kilometres apart but share the same coat of arms. Nago boasts an ancient fortress which dominates the entire plain, while Torbole is the international home of windsurfing.
Starting from the water, as you would probably expect, with sailing, windsurfing and the more recent addition - kite-surfing.
365 days a year, competitive sailing is part of the culture here, with four sailing clubs and another committed to windsurfing, leaving very few days free in the international event calendar. Climbing, free-climbing, canyoning, mountain biking, road cycling, downhill, uphill, football and five-a-side, basketball, archery, athletics, dance and fitness, nordic walking, running, gymnastics, volleyball, roller skating, rugby, tennis, swimming, trekking, orienteering, horse-riding, canoeing and, of course, jogging.
This is an area with a wealth of local products where gastronomic excellence abounds and where local specialities can be perfectly married with products of the vine, both from white and black grapes or dried ones. And let's not forget water, which in this land surrounded by mountains, can be found everywhere. And, of course, there is also grappa, another noble product of the Trentino region, which almost all the local wine cellars include in their production.
Recipes? Well, there are lots to choose from. From canederli (dumplings) with cheese and spinach to those filled with speck and served with melted butter, from "gnocchi" with herbs to veal brisket with honey and herbs, then there is the typical "carne salada" (or salted meat) from the Garda Trentino area, which can be served raw with a squeeze of lemon juice and cheese shavings (carpaccio style) or cooked with beans. Without forgetting, of course, the various game dishes, such as venison with polenta served with wild ceps mushrooms.
A never-ending choice of dishes which go perfectly with the more robust reds of the Vallagarina or the Adige Valley such as Merlot or Marzemino, red wines which can be preceded before the main course with a spumante or a light rosé, which go perfectly with the classic starters. There are apples from the Val di Non, with which to make strudel, the typical dessert of the Trentino, along with fruits of the forest, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and black or red-currants, to serve with ice cream for example.
Moreover, there are other specialities acknowledged by the Slow Food organisation such as the "Ciuìga," a type of simple sausage which has now become acclaimed, along with the many varieties of cheese from the local dairies, of which the Trentino area has so many.
Agrarian companies and wineries such as Ferrari, owned by the Lunelli brothers of Trento, open their doors for social get-togethers, carefully combining, for example, motor cars with products such as wine or olive oil, which this territory, in the northern extremity of the Mediterranean, benefits from a rich and flavoursome production. Pedrotti, in the town of Nomi, is where a sparkling wine of the same name is created and aged in caves. Abate Nero comes from the Trentino shores, while Cavit, one of the major Italian wine-producers, has its representative base in Maso Toresella on Lake Toblino. Then there is the Colle Zugna winery at Mori, the Agraria of Riva del Garda (wine cellar and oil-press), the great Mezzocorona wine cellar and also the Maso Warth, where the ex cycling champion Francesco Moser dedicates his time to his passion of vineyard cultivation.
Perhaps the best example of Trentino viticulture can be witnessed at the Agrarian Institute of San Michele all'Adige, where over one hundred hectares of land are cultivated with grapevines and apples. Here the winery and distillery play an important role, supporting experimental and educational projects and demonstrations, which are conducted by other centres who find this institute to be the perfect location. Visits can be organised in each of these companies by prior arrangement.
Home of the Civic Museum, the Rocca dates back to 1124, when notes can be found referring to the construction of a "castrum novum." With its four angular towers, and home also to the art gallery, you can find the Rocca right in the centre of the town, where it can be admired from all four sides. On the east, north and west you can walk around the ancient moat, and to the south there is a large, wooded park which runs down to the lake. It is accessed by the ancient drawbridge. Closed on Mondays during the winter months, open from 10am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 6pm every day (Monday included) from July to September.
The mound with a castle on top dominates the entire Garda Trentino territory, and its walls still contain the remains of the cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte's army. Of the four original gates, today you can only see the "Transfora" (or Stranfòr) Gate, which in ancient times had a drawbridge. Arco castle was depicted in a watercolour by Albrecht Dűrer, which currently hangs in the Louvre. It is the symbol of the town of Arco with its circle of profane frescoes which figure ladies intent on playing chess. It is open from April to September from 10am to 7pm.
A crenellated tower, 30 meters high, is the dominating feature of this manor, with a view from high up across the Marocche plain (a glacial phenomenon) of Dro and the Garda Trentino area. Beneath its walls, flows the Rio Salagoni, a fabulous canyon equipped with an iron walkway. Of Romanesque construction, in a strategic position between the Sarca valley and the Cavedine valley, it can be visited all year round (except Mondays) and is host to numerous exhibitions and displays of local artists' work.