Do you know the land where the lemon-trees grow,
in darkened leaves the gold-oranges glow,
a soft wind blows from the pure blue sky,
the myrtle stands mute, and the bay-tree high?
Do you know it well?
It’s there I’d be gone,
to be there with you, O, my beloved one!
J.W. von Goethe
Here in Italy, the government has decreed that “quarantine” will continue for a while longer due to the Coronavirus. Despite this, Italians are already imagining what it will be like when they can finally enjoy that ice cream again in the open air and take that trip they’ve been dreaming of. Every day we all ask ourselves at least once when we will be able to travel. For the moment, there are still no scientific answers from reliable sources but when that time comes, it will be fantastic and we will savor it even more.
In the meantime, hope cannot be lost, which is why we must continue traveling. This is not an invitation to break the law but rather, to travel virtually. Nobody can prevent us from taking a lovely trip using our imagination.
It’s obvious that Italy lends itself beautifully to this type of virtual holiday. If you’re reading this, you already know how magnificent Italy is from north to south and east to west. 420 million tourists in 2017 alone are proof of that.
Unfortunately, we have to stay home. Right now, it is imperative for our safety so why not take advantage of this time and learn about some of the beautiful places worth visiting!
Limone sul Garda
I’d like to take you to northern Italy’s Lake Garda to smell the sweet aroma of lemons. It is among the areas where the population ages extremely well, a peaceful place where the lake breeze caresses you, and where the air smells like lemon. It is precisely Limone sul Garda. We are on the Brescia shores of Garda. About 1,165 residents live here on the northern part of the lake, before reaching Riva del Garda in Trentino Alto-Adige, between the mountains and Orti and Castello.
A Little History
Not everyone knows that this small village’s name did not actually come from the fact that there are lemon groves here. As early as the tenth century, numerous texts documented the names Limon, Limonum, Limono and Limone but they are thought to be synonyms derived from limen meaning “border” or lima meaning “river”. The fruit actually has nothing to do with it. Until 1863, the name was Limone San Giovanni. It wasn’t until 1904 that it was modified to Limone sul Garda.
If you arrive by car, you can leave your car in the covered parking lot located just a few steps from the center. If you are arriving by way of Verona, you can actually take the train and then the ferry and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are boats that sail fairly frequently in the warmer months. Pay attention to the timetables because they can vary in summer. The center is pedestrian-friendly and once you get to the main street, you will be enticed by the lemony aroma.
What to See and Do
Time seems to have stopped in Limone. Don’t be afraid to lose your way. The village is very small and I highly recommend actually trying to get lost in the narrow streets of this enchanted place. Go inside the craft shops and rest in the shade of the colorful houses while perhaps enjoying a delicious gelato. As you stroll by street artists and painters, it is a must to go into the shops that sell lemon products of all kinds. You’ll be tempted to want to taste the lemony hand cream that smells good enough to eat.
All of the products, from foamy bubble bath to hand soap, are locally-made by artisans. Any why not taste a glass of Limoncello? I know that the best limoncello is found in Sorrento but Lake Garda’s version is also delicious and unique. You can also find a lighter, less full-bodied olive oil.
Here in Limone, people live long and well thanks to a certain molecule, according to the scientists, but the lake breeze must play a role as well. The climate not only benefits the residents but also the lemons. In fact, along with nearby Lake Toblino, Limone is among the northernmost places where this fruit grows.
Some of the lemon gardens (limonaia) can be visited and are real open-air museums. The three must-sees are the Tesol limonaia, the Via Borghi limonaia. and the Castel limonaia which is the most famous dating back to the 1700s. Just follow the floor tiles to reach it. (1 euro for young guests 2 for adults)
These enchanting places owe some of their beauty to their isolation over the past centuries. It is certainly worth going further up the mountain where the view is truly breathtaking: behind you, the mountains and in front of you, a magnificent view of Lake Garda. Another selfie-worthy spot is the San Benedetto Church terrace. It was built in 1691 on a pre-existing Romanesque church from the 11th century.
The Bike Path
And after the shops, the creams, the lemons, and the ice cream, there is one more essential stop on your journey of Limone sul Garda- the bike route. This is not just any cycling path but one of the most famous in Italy, overlooking Lake Garda. It’s 2.5 km long but if you walk from the Limone car park it is 11 km. It can be done on foot or by bike, but I think it’s actually better on foot. The path was built with concrete panels covered with slats. Inaugurated in 2018, this massive project involves 19 towns along Lake Garda.
For now, you can go as far as the Trentino-Alto Adige border. There are no services, refreshment points or shelter, but I assure you that the view overlooking the lake is absolutely worth it. It seems that it is destined to be defined as the most beautiful cycle path in Europe. An architectural masterpiece suspended above the blue waters of Lake Garda.
But seeing is believing.
Article by Nicole Rossignoli