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Have you been to Riva Del Garda? Please tell me about it.

Have you been to Riva Del Garda? Please tell me about it.

Mar 28th, 2009, 12:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 261
Have you been to Riva Del Garda? Please tell me about it.

Here's the trip so far: fly out of Boston August 19 to Milan, spend six nights with family in Bergamo, two nights in Verona and attend the opera on August 27, two nights in Venice and then--tentatively scheduled--two nights in Riva Del Garda before last night in Milan and fly out early September 2.

It's a bit choppy at the end, but we're okay with it. We really don't want to spend four nights in Venice but it wouldn't be the world's worst thing!

I decided on Lake Garda because it wasn't too out of the way from our other destinations and because it would be a bit different--more country, less city. We live in the country though so we could do all city and be fine. For some reason, when I first started planning on this area I thought that this might be a good place to cool our heels for a couple of days and do some exploring (predominantly by foot). I was drawn to the town because of La Rocca as my husband would love to explore a castle as well as Fodorite's reviews of the area. I realize that other towns around Garda have castles/forts as well.

So anyways, tell me about the area. I may decide to pursue this or abandon and chase down some other thoughts.

Thank you!
sorriso is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 470
I'm a big fan of Lago Garda, but not of Riva del Garda. Might be a better place to stay than to visit tho. In my brief stop, it seemed Germanically bland/spacious/orderly as opposed to typical lakeside Italian cute/serendipitous. Also it's so darn far from Sirmione which is a must visit for it's Roman ruins if not for it's castle (not that I would stay there).

Now cute little towns can wear thin in a stay, but here is a trick I might try next time. Consider the towns chained together with a pleasant shoreline walk on the SE side... from Garda on down. Each one may seem a bit lacking, but you can seamlessly find a place for your mood of the moment in either one of the towns/restaurants or the nice countryside in between. All without struggling with vehicles/boats, but just a daydreaming wander.
viking is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 08:01 PM
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I'll be in Riva del Garda for 3 nites in April. I'll report back about it when we return from our trip.
orangetravelcat is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 09:17 PM
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The north Italian lakes are very picturesque, and Riva di Garda must hold the crown of being the most well kept, cleanest lakeside town of all. Set as it is at the northern tip of Lake Garda, thrusting into the foothills of the former Austrian Alps, the views in early morning sunlight are of mountains in layers of increasing height, some still with snow on the peaks.

The lake, disappearing into morning haze, has steeper cliffs on the western side, the tops being like smoothly worn teeth. At certain places on the side of the mountains cling little churches or dwellings appearing to be totally inaccessible, and in fact many of the lakeside villages were only accessible by boat until the new road was chiseled and blasted through at the base of the cliffs.

From Riva it is possible to take a ferry to visit interesting nearby villages such as Malcesine with its Castello Scaligero and Limone where there are terraced lemon groves, grown against heated walls, under glass, and grown this way since Roman times. Or you can spend a whole day on the ferry, calling in at one small town after another along one shore, all the way down to Sirmione, then all the way back up along the other shore.

Riva itself is a lovely place to spend a few days, with not much to do but sit beside the lake or wander the maze of narrow streets in the old town. There are palm trees lining the streets, and roses and jasmine trained to climb the palms, clothing the rough brown trunks with colorful and sweetly scented blossoms. We were there for a week, time enough to explore the area well but not so long we ran out of ways to entertain ourselves.

Here are some photos, if you're interested: http://gardentouring.fotopic.net/c1673556_1.html
julia1 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 02:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,021
Hi Sorriso - Riva is my favourite place to stay on Lake Garda. I agree entirely with Julia - a lovely base in a beautiful setting.

Steve_James is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 470
Hey - they're ganging up on me again - grin! Actually any frankness or whiff of negativity toward a pet destination can bring... not just an offering of a different opinion, but a (velvet) sledgehammer of overwrought praise or putting an entire reputation on the line to counter the heresy.

I would refer the original poster to a recent trip report of a very sensitive and Italiophile follower of this forum, who posted northern Lake Garda as the lowpoint of her Italy itinerary and contrasted it to the flowery talk here that led her to spend many days there.

I'm not saying the north is bad, but it is different and may appeal to a quite different personality. Similarly for Lake Maggiore... go to the Swiss north and it can be a total collapse of everything you are expecting and looking for in lakeside atmosphere. Some may like and some not. Best to admit the places have different appeal and let the buyer beware rather than insist on only positives be said.

I speak as someone who treated every trip to Italy as precious and maybe the last one due to money or health reasons. Now that time may have come, and I'm glad I never followed one-note gushy enthusiasts, but more nuanced sources who admitted to pluses and minuses.

I see there are a bunch of Rome enthusiasts on this forum guiding some poor soul to spending a month in a grueling city that it totally counter to his nature - he would probably be carried out of even Boston in a stretcher in a few days. In the old days he would crack open a guidebook like Rick Steves which frankly lays out this Jekyll-Hyde two sides of the coin.

Well, once I had a library of every book Fodor published (would get the back dated ones at a discount). At least the better books seem to admit more of the downsides then forums because they will lose money if leading customers astray. I will admit Rick Steves led me wrong in his badmouthing of Tivoli.

So to sum up in the twilight of my travel career - appreciate the critics and beware of the wild enthusiasts. Not so much in this thread (which is pretty benign), but in general...
viking is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 609
We spent six nights in Riva del Garda in October and liked it but we loved Verona. In retrospect, we would have preferred spending six nights in Verona and three in Riva.

I don't think four nights in Venice is long at all.

I'm glad you have family in Bergamo; three nights there was enough for us.

Have fun wherever you end up!
Judi is offline  
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