Spellbinding beauty - Lake Garda in early autumn
October brings a change of light and mood, hot summer days leaving room to gentler sunrays and auburn hues colouring woods and mountainsides. This is the time when the air is breezier and autumn gently knocks on the door. It is also the ideal moment to visit Lake Garda: did you know you could take part in a regatta until late October?
And that water sports such as stand up paddle (known as SUP) are at their best now, when the water is calmer and relax is guaranteed? With three fabulous Italian regions to choose from (Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino), you are guaranteed a variety of scenery, events, tastes and habits that will simply stun you. Every season tells a story on Lake Garda: come and write yours.
Lake Garda offers many interesting local products, from wine to truffles, lemons and exquisite olive oil, and October is the month of a famous festival that celebrates the products of the mountains. Head to Spiazzi, a town on Monte Baldo, to make the most of chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, aromatic herbs, jams, honey and of course some local wine. Monte Baldo itself is a mysterious mountain that hides unexpected realms; sitting between Veneto and Trentino, it is part of the Veneto Prealps and hosts a variety of climates, from sub-Mediterranean at the Torri del Benaco shores to a proper alpine environment, when you reach the 2,200-metre high peaks. This means that a profoundly rich variety of plant species and animals find home here, with 50% of alpine flora to be found on Monte Baldo. You can hike (up Monte Altissimo di Nago, Cima del Longhino or along the Via delle Creste to enjoy stunning views, for instance), cycle, go horse riding and even paraglide – as well as taking a cable car up it – around Monte Baldo, offering something for everyone.
Honey is a divine nectar, loved by everyone and the produce of labouring, precious bees. Treasured by children and adults alike, it has antibacterial and antibiotic functions; it enhances your strength and power and works wonders for your bones, heart, liver and your blood. A real superfood that is sometimes neglected, but is worthy of all our attention: people go wild at honey on Lake Garda, and Lazise hosts an annual Honey Festival in October, known as the Honey Days. This is your chance to taste some new varieties and learn all about honey production, as well as seeing cosmetics, sweets and other interesting products made with this precious natural creation. Chestnuts are also the big guns of this time of the year and San Zeno di Montagna hosts a festival entirely dedicated to it, the Festa delle Castagne e del Marrone. Sweet, childhood memories of time spent looking for fatty, delicious chestnuts come alive in this much loved celebration in this little town above the lake.
Late summer colours, the prelude to autumn glorious auburn, brown and golden orange, are sensational and, given the calmer days, why not enjoy the lake’s splendid gardens? Head to the Giardini Sigurtà in Valeggio sul Mincio, captivating Heller Gardens and the Vittoriale degli Italiani in Gardone Riviera: far from the madding crowds of summer, these most exquisite gems, replete with ornamental, exotic and sensational flowers and plant species, will make your day a very special one.
Of course any visit to the lake would not be complete with a wine tasting. Why not go and visit the Bardolino festival in the namesake town? This is one of the most popular wines on Lake Garda and its fame goes well beyond the Italian borders: 70% of its production is, in fact, exported, leaving lucky foreigners the joy of tasting this red wine delicacy. The festival entails stories around the Bardolino Classico DOC variety, illustrating the six towns that produce it, in a feast accompanied by concerts and conferences
The Centomiglia, the lake’s most famous regatta, in its 70th edition, took place early in September, continuing a long tradition that sees regattas filling the agendas of aficionados from early spring until late autumn on Lake Garda.
Right until October and early November, regattas take place in Tignale or Gargnano, among others. The allure of this fabulous, varying and vast speck of water captures the attention of water sport enthusiasts, who will make the most of sailing, windsurf, kitesurf and of course swimming competitions. Scuba divers will be in their element, the algal bloom typical of summer and blocking visibility, slowly disappearing; come in close contact with fascinating rock formations, coloured fish and striking flora, and if you fancy discovering boat wrecks, head to Malcesine, Salò or Riva del Garda.
There exist several diving spots, of varying difficulty, all around the lake, from Navene to Torbole and Tempesta, so just pick yours and enjoy this exciting sport.
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