During these dreary days of forced lockdown at least there is plenty of sunshine to brighten our days. Its rays warm the air and a gentle spring breeze caresses us. The scent of summer is already in the air and the days are much longer. This is good news but it would be even better if we could be outdoors enjoying it.
We are all wondering what it will be like to travel again and when the government will allow it. The indications, for now, are still somewhat vague. The only certainty right now is that when we are able to move freely, there will be many restrictions.
Those who have always loved to travel will probably not let COVID-19 stop them. The less crowded destinations immersed in nature will be privileged. Italians will be required to stay within our borders which is really ok because there are an infinite number of interesting places and beautiful landscapes to visit within Italy.
Malcesine on Lake Garda
In the meantime, today, from the balcony of my house, I would like to take you to Malcesine on Lake Garda. Perhaps, not everyone knows that Lake Garda is disputed by 3 regions of Italy: Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino Alto-Adige. Malcesine is located on the northern part of the lake on the Veronese shore.
3,800 residents call Malcesine home. It’s located just 60 km from the Trentino-Alto Adige border.
For those wishing to reach this village by public transport, there are daily lines available, which lead directly to Malcesine, from both sides.
If instead, you’re coming from the north, you can change lines in Rovereto and continue on towards Lake Garda.
If you’d prefer a road trip, then the SS 249 Gardesana Orientale runs along the eastern shore of the Lake from Verona. While the SS 45 bis Gardesana Ovest runs along the western shore.
The A22 Brenner-Modena motorway connects destinations on the eastern and northern sides of Lake Garda, while the A4 Milan-Venice highway connects the areas of the southern shore.
Exits along the Autostrada:
- A22 – Brennero/Modena: exit Rovereto Sud/Lago di Garda Nord
- A22 – Brennero/Modena: exit Affi
- A4 – Milano/Venezia: exit Peschiera
Patient drivers who love a good road trip should absolutely take the Veronese shore route. I assure you that the view is breathtaking. It skirts the entire lake, from south to north. It does require patience due to the speed limits to be respected. But on the flip side, it will give you plenty of time for pit stops and selfies along the way.
If you aren’t prone to motion sickness, you can also take the various lake transport services available. With frequent departures from both the Brescia and Veronese shores, it is an incredibly beautiful way to go. There is also a fast line. You can check the times from the various departure sites.
An “Orange Flag” City
Once you arrive in Malcesine, it will be difficult not to fall in love with this small medieval village surrounded by nature. It’s in a spectacular location with Monte Baldo in the background and the emerald hue of Lake Garda.
The fact that it is enclosed by rocky mountain cliffs guarantees this area a mild climate all year round. In winter, temperatures rarely drop below freezing. The scenery is gorgeous with the Mediterranean flora at its center. In fact, there are olive trees, citrus fruits, palm trees, holm oaks, oleanders, and bougainvillea.
Klimt painted Malcesine and Goethe wrote about it in his Italian Journey. It isn’t any wonder that the Italian Touring Club awarded it with the prestigious orange flag.
In Italy, the Touring Club has chosen 247 villages to recognize for their tourist and environmental value. Requirements include a maximum population of 15,000, sustainable tourism which protects culture, history and nature, as well as local resources. In order to maintain “orange flag” status, the city must adhere to the strict requirements.
Since 2010, Malcesine has joined the ranks of the elite for these reasons:
“Location characterized by a system of quality accommodation and restaurants, integrated into the architectural context and adequately promoted thanks to an excellent tourist information service. The historic center also presents elements of great interest from an architectural and urban point of view and stands out for its good internal mobility. ” (Marta, ghost visitor TCI)
What to See and Do in Malcesine
The history of this village revolves around the very well-preserved Scaliger Castle which is home to the Natural History Museum, the Museum of the Venetian Galleys as well as the Goethe Room dedicated to his stay. The tower dominates the town on a rocky outcrop and the panoramic view is breathtaking.
Another important element from a historical-cultural point of view is certainly the Palazzo dei Capitani. (Visitable)
Inside, theatrical performances, music concerts, and art exhibitions are organized. And if you’re feeling particularly romantic, it could be very impressive to organize your wedding here. To think that there are over 300 weddings hosted here every year (mostly English couples).
The historic center is a labyrinth of ascending cobblestone streets lined with artisan shops. At every turn, Medieval buildings and glimpses of breathtaking views.
There’s a small port by the lake and the Palazzo dei Capitani.
Leaving the town center, by way of the lakeside promenade, you will find the cycle path.
Enjoying the Outdoors
If you love to swim but don’t live near the sea, then a dip in the lake is another must.
The water is crystal clear thanks to the color of the stones that reflect the sunlight, but it is also quite cold. It never reaches the temperature of Italy’s seas.
An important recommendation is to stay close to the shore even if you’re an Olympic swimmer. This is because Lake Garda is very deep, and being freshwater, you will not float as you would in the sea. You will also need water shoes.
Don’t worry; you’ll still experience the same thrill even if you swim close to the shore.
So there you have it- the lake, culture, a castle, breathtaking views, a selfie on the bike path, tasting local olive oil, a handmade “Made in Italy” souvenir. Nothing is missing from this picture-perfect getaway.
The Cableway at 1,780 meters
Actually, there is still one more piece of the puzzle that remains to be seen. If you’ve never climbed 1,780 meters high in a cable car, now is your chance. This is a spectacular way to see the lake and the surrounding landscape. If you’re athletic and an experienced hiker, then you can venture up on foot on the trails that depart from the village. They are not easy. Either way, you’ll need a sweater or light jacket.
Under normal circumstances (currently closed), you can buy your tickets for the cable car (Cableway Malcesine Monte Baldo) right in the center. The price is around 22 euros round trip. The time table is available on the website.
Once you reach the summit, there are other paths of varying difficulty that you might want to try. There is also a refuge where you can just relax and enjoy the view. You will probably spot some alpacas grazing up at the summit as well!
Malcesine is also the headquarters of an important amateur sailing company- FVM (Fraglia Vela Malcesine). Every year it organizes national and international regattas, European and world championships. It’s an important location for those who are preparing for the sailing Olympics. It’s also the home of the Italian Paralympic national team.
Even if you’re not an Olympic-level athlete, there are plenty of other activities to keep you occupied. From sailing schools, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sup (standup paddleboarding)- it’s all here in Malcesine.
Article by Nicole Rossignoli