Lake Garda towns in Veneto, Italy:
the village of Garda
and the evocative Punta San Vigilio
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Among the lake Garda towns there is the homonymous village of Garda, located on the Veneto’s shores of the lake and one of the most popular and beloved vacation places of the area.
There is nothing certain about the origin of the name Garda, however some scholars think it may have originated from the German word warte, meaning stronghold: the previous name was the Latin word Benacus, but due to the importance gained under the Lombard dominion the name turned into one with a Germanic root.
Actually there was an ancient bulwark upon the overlooking hill --Colle della Rocca (stronghold hill) - dating back to the Roman era, which was later destroyed by the Venetians during their war against the Scaligeris, Lords of Verona.
The fortress is not longer there, but over the centuries many aristocratic and elegant villas have been built upon the hill.
Like other lake Garda towns, such as Malcesine, or Torri del Benaco, and others, even Garda has a lot to offer both in terms of beauty of the natural setting and allure of the historic center.
The quaint hamlet lies on a small gulf delimited northward by the romantic and evocating Punta San Vigilio (more details below) and overlooks a large bay with alluring beaches. It is crowned by an imposing and suggesting rocky amphiteater.
Behind, there are the pictoresque Valle dei Mulini – mills valley – and beautiful hills from where you can enjoy a stunning view on the blue of the lake.
Those hills are ideal spots for a day trip and for the hikers. Plus, they boast plenty of places where you can eat out, tasting the excellent wine and food of the area.
Not unlike from other lake Garda towns, also in Garda you’ll find it very pleasant and relaxing strolling about the ancient alleys lined with trees in the walled historic center.
Have a look at the Clock tower, at the elegant palaces, like the 1500s Palazzo Fregoso and the Venetian gothic Palazzo del Capitano.
A few steps away stands Palazzo Carlotti, embellished by a fine 1500s loggia.
Other noteworthy buildings in Garda are the medieval church Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, decorated with a 1450 fresco in its interior.
The big park of the 1700s’ Villa Albertini borders the lively and long lakeside, a pleasant place where to do a passeggiata - to stroll around->. The walk, lined with trees, is dotted with restaurants and bars: you'll be tempted to have a dinner outside sitting at the shady tables, soothed by the sound of the lapping waves..
The village of Garda boasts also a well equipped port, ideal for docking pleasure boats.
There is also available a regular boat service connecting Garda with other lake Garda towns.
The magic and exclusive Punta San Vigilio
While visiting the village of Garda, you can not miss the suggesting Punta San Vigilio, one of the wonders of the lake Garda, celebrated since the Roman times by poets and travelers as one of the most magic places of all the lake Garda.
It is a lush small peninsula covered by plenty of centuries-old olive trees and cypresses, tucked into a timeless and at times melancholic atmosphere.
To get there from Garda you have to walk along a trail surrounded by lemon houses and cypresses.
Once there, you’ll be stunned by a breathtaking view: a small bay (Baia delle Sirene - or Mermaids Bay - and a seashell shaped little port, a small medieval church dating back to the 13th century, an Hotel de Charme and a fine tavern.
Near the little port stands also the early 1500s villa Brenzoni-Guarienti - not open to visitors, but you can take a walk in its beautiful neat Italianate garden.
Among the illustrious visitors who spent a getaway in this most exclusive bay as guests in the villa or for a meal in the renowned Taverna San Vigilio, were artists of the 1500s, like the painter Pisanello, or politicians like the tsar Alexander of Russia, Winston Churchill, Prince Charles. Then the British actors Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier, just to name a few.
For those wanting to take a bath and sunbathe in this breathtaking corner of heaven, there is the nearby Parco delle Sirene (an entrance ticket is due), with a large meadow and centuries old trees.
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