Our initial reason for visiting Lake Garda was to try one of the Via Ferrata hikes which are dotted around the surrounding mountains. You can read the story of our Via Ferrata hike here. We chose Riva Del Garda as our base as there seemed to be lots to do and it was stunningly beautiful. So lets tell you a bit about our stay there.
How did we get there?
After visiting Monza for the Italian F1 Grand Prix after driving down from the UK we drove east along the A4 past Brescia and followed the signs. Satnav came in handy too. The drive up was beautiful and up the side of the lake especially as the mountains towered above us on each side.
Where did we stay?
As we were camping we chose to stay in the Campsite Brione. As well as having really good reviews it had a swimming pool and after the hustle and bustle of Monza we were ready for a relaxing swim. The campsite was quite big but being the end of the season it was fairly quiet. The showers and toilet facilities were one of the best we’ve had in Italy. Cleaned at regular intervals during the day. Quite modern with nice shower units and plenty of hot water. Would 100% recommend this site.
What did we do?
Hike Via Ferrata Cima Capi (909m)
This was the main reason we chose Riva Del Garda as a base for the second part of our adventure. We were keen to try the Via Ferrata routes here in Italy. A “via ferrata” translates as “iron path” in English. It refers to metal rungs, ladders or permanently fixed safety wire as a means of crossing otherwise tricky and steep rocky terrain. These were used in the First World War by the Italians as a supply route and are still in use today by outdoor enthusiasts like us. Full description and the story of our Via Ferrata experience can be found here.
The route is approx 8.2km but that doesn’t include walking from Riva or back again so probably add another 5 – 6 onto that. The Via Ferrata section is around 5 hrs long so its a full days activity so best take enough snacks, lunch and water.
The old Ponale Road hike takes you straight from the shores of Lake Garda at Riva down the side of the lake, then into the hills and up and over the pass which then leads down to Lago di Ledro. You pass through forest, small villages, fields of fruit and on route there is a spectacular waterfall. As you reach the lake you come across some Bronze Age dwellings. These dwellings were discovered when the lake was lowered to align with the power station. They are thought to be the best preserved and largest settlement throughout Europe.
At the lake there are restaurants, cafe’s and boats for hire. If you get there earlier in the day you can spend the whole day there as there’s a regular bus back to Riva which, I’ll be honest with you, we did take back. At lunch the restaurant we chose had Prosecco on tap so hiking back wasn’t really an option ! The buses are really frequent and the journey is approx 30 mins. For a few € its worth it.
The walk is approx 13km from Riva to the lake and it took about 3hrs 30 mins.
The Santa Barbara chapel is visible from the town of Riva del Garda and when we arrived in Riva on the first day we said, I wonder how you get up there. The church was built during the construction of the hydroelectrical plant in 1925 and it is dedicated to the patron saint of the miners. The pipes connect the Ledro lake to the Garda lake and the water is forced to the power plant for the production of the electricity.
The starting point of the trail is Monte Oro street in Riva del Garda, in the direction of the Bastione that it is easily reachable in 15-20 minutes walking along a paved road. Here the path starts rising and following the indications for the 404 trail you can reach the chapel in approximately 1 hour. The views from the Chapel and from some of the viewpoints on the way up are spectacular.
There are no facilities on this route so best take a picnic and plenty water. Oh and watch out for the wildlife, I saw a little snake on the way down just sitting there on the path.
What is the food like?
As we were camping we did eat in a few restaurants and here’s a couple of recommendations for you.
For traditional Italian food you can look no further than The Hotel Rialto Pizzeria. Just simple Italian homestyle food at a reasonable price.
For gelato it has to be Gelateria Flora. Superb gelato in a variety of flavours. In Italy Zuppa Inglesi always made me giggle – English soup and when you taste it, its sherry trifle flavour. Love it.
There are an abundance of restaurants to choose from so if you get there, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
So what’s next on our second epic Italian Adventure.
I’ll tell you the full story of our Via Ferrata day. Check it out! It really was a fantastic adventure.
Destination – Riva Del Garda, Italy Date – September 2014 How did we get there? – We drove from the UK to attend the F1 Grand Prix at Monza and then made our way to Lake Garda from there. Driving in Italy isn’t as scary as some people would make you believe and sat nav is a great […]