Follow in the footsteps of Napoleon and Churchill and go and paint at the lush promontory of Punta San Vigilio. Park the car and walk down to the lake through the olive grove where you will be rewarded by a spectacular view. Or walk there along the lake from the town of Garda, on a trail edged with lemon and cypress trees.
If you really want to indulge your artistic, romantic side, you can stay at the hotel there, right on the edge of the lake.
We discovered Agli Angeli in 2005 and have made it a must visit each time we return to Lake Garda. This gem of a family run restaurant and hotel is perfectly located in the romantic picturesque village streets above Gardone Riviera on the west shore of Lake Garda. Combine fine dining in a friendly local atmosphere with a visit to the adjacent Vittoriale Degli Italiani, the home and spectacular gardens of controversial poet and eccentric Gabriele D'Annunzio, or alternatively stay in one of the seven beautiful individual rooms within the main house or in the adjacent dependance and use as a base for exploring the Lake. There are a couple of suites within the house which can accommodate up to four people and also a pool to relax by.
Via Dosso 7, Gardone Riviera, Lake Garda
Tucked up in the olive groves at the back of Limone sul Garda, this quiet, unpretentious, little osteria with it's laid back, friendly service is a great place for lunch in the shade of the vines and olive trees or just for lingering over a bottle of wine in the candlelit garden in the evening. Walk a few metres downhill to the ancient chapel of San Pietro which has 13th century frescoes and notes on the portico recalling the plague, bad olive harvests and the defeat of Napoleon. This incredibly peaceful spot is only about 20 minutes walk from the centre of Limone but you're likely to have it all to yourself.
Almost hidden valley, just inland from the village of Toscolano-Maderno on the western shore of Lake Garda is the Valle delle Cartiere. Now a peaceful and green place - not on most tourist agendas - this valley has a history of paper production on a huge scale, making use of the river to power the machinery. The ruins of the old factories litter the valley and some are made visitor friendly with exhibits and information plaques and there is a visitor centre at the start of the trail. Allow a couple of hours to walk to the top and back. Pack reasonable walking shoes for the walk, and swim wear if you want to cool off in the icy stream - good shallow swim area at the top of the valley.
Interesting day out, with a chance to see some different scenery from the lakes - despite being very close.
Driving north on the main road up the lake, take the first left after crossing the small river, follow the road past some houses and then through some tunnels until you come to the car park - you will have to continue on foot after this.
Google map: bit.ly/LJFHMW
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