Reminiscing about Lake Garda, Bavaria and beyond
When the opportunity arose of heading to northern Italy for a travel conference, our first thought was, oh yes, this just shouts for a ‘road trip’. Our second thought was this could be similar to our Lakes and Lederhosen road trip in 2015, which we loved.
A road trip around Lake Garda, Italy
Though; this return trip enables us to discover even more locations en-route. With the conference being held in the northern Italian city of Trento, it was just a short hop, skip and a jump from Lake Garda. So, that’s one location pencilled in.
Nördlingen in Bavaria
Then our minds wandered and we both said we’d like to discover more of Bavaria in southern Germany. Consequently, after some deliberation, the destinations were coming together. Of course, we couldn’t pass through France and not stay for a night. Therefore, Alsace was calling, and we settled on Molsheim.
Malcesine harbour, Lake Garda, Italy
Hopefully, our memories of our Lakes and Lederhosen part II road trip will tempt you into a visit to this beautiful part of Europe.
All this ruminating is now making me want to return. Here is a taster of what we discovered and why Lakes and Lederhosen part II was even more enjoyable than part I.
Limone Sul Garda
The Little Habour at Limone-sur-Garda
Specifically, Limone Sul Garda, the picturesque old fishing village just blew me away. I must admit, we didn’t choose Limone from a recommendation. It was more the fact that the opening car scenes from the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace were filmed nearby, that sold it to us.
Although, once we strolled around Limone Sul Garda’s attractive little harbour, with the enchanting back backdrop of high reaching mountains and opal waters at their feet, undoubtedly won us over.
A helpful guide
If you're hooked like us and want to tour around the beautiful Italian Lakes in northern Italy, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book.
This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
I have to be honest here, as I had never actually heard of Trento before arranging this trip. However, it’s such a wonderful city, it’s lovely and compact, comfortable to stroll around and so much history. What’s not to love?
A view from Piazza Duomo
Another delight is that with Trento’s Austro-Hungarian past, you still feel those ancestral influences. Particularly amongst the shiny cobbled streets, and the beautifully coloured architecture on the noble palazzos.
Ohh and don’t get me started on the delicious freshly made pasta, Trento is awash with family-run restaurants.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Perhaps a slightly unusual destination to add to our highlights; however, for us, it needs mentioning. Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp was unbelievably moving. So many horrific life stories being shared and the eeriness of walking through the vast roll-call ground will always stay with us.
The Jourhouse of the Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany
Touring Lake Garda
If you’ve ever visited the Italian lakes, then you’ll know how picturesque they are. Personally, I believe there is no better way of touring around the lakes, than under your own steam. With the wind in your hair a full tank of gas and the weaving roads and tunnelled out mountain arches stretched out ahead.
Driving the road around Lake Garda
There are so many charming towns and villages dotted along the shorelines of the lake, that you’ll want to keep stopping. If you have limited time, you’ll need to be selective as to where you stop and how often. However, just zigzagging through the tunnels, soaking up the scenery takes some beating.
When driving around the lakes, make sure you travel clockwise. This will ensure you’ll always be hugging the shores of the lake and experience unhindered views.
Don’t forget British drivers, Italians drive on the right-hand side of the road.
During the Bavarian part of our adventure, we visited Dinkelsbühl. I’d read that this walled town was extremely pretty; however, it was still a pleasant shock to see. The chocolate-box façades and half-timbered shopfronts were immaculate.
Dinkelsbühl in Bavaria, Germany
As we strolled around, you felt like you had walked onto a movie set. It amazes you how towns like this have survived the test of time. If you meander two or three lanes back from the centre, peace and quiet will descend.
Nuremberg Nazi Rally Ground
Another destination that’s a bit subdued is the Nuremberg Nazi Rally Grounds and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, they have a place in our history, and I find it incredibly fascinating how Hitler managed to brainwash nearly a whole nation.
Nazi Party Congress Hall, Nuremberg’s Nazi Party Rally Grounds,
When the thought of these places enters my mind, I immediately envisage Hitler addressing his supporters, with rows and rows of people stretched out beyond. Madly enough the Zeppelinfeld Grandstand is still there along with the Congress building. The museum at the Nuremberg Rally Grounds is undoubtedly worth a visit, if not a little disturbing.
Ahh, yes, a brief stopover in France, I know it isn’t lakes or lederhosen. However, the Alsace region is so close to Germany, I’m hoping I got away with it.
Molsheim old town square, Alsace, France
Molsheim is so picturesque and what’s not to love about enjoying a Tarte-flambee, a glass of the local wine. All the while, admiring the medieval architecture. We were sold, all along this region of France, the countryside with rolling vineyards is captivating.
During our stay at Limon Sul Garda, we took a boat trip to another stunning lakeside town Malcesine. Malcesine is on the eastern shoreline of Lake Garda and although you can drive to the town, arriving by boat is the way to go.
A visit to Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy
With the striking 13th century Castello Scaliger, gradually coming into view and the colourful homes perched on the lake’s edge it looked idyllic. As you stroll along the cobbled lanes, you are greeted by a beautiful harbour and Venetian style architecture.
I understand why the Italian Lakes are so popular.
Good to know!
Italy often gets a bit of a reputation for expensive food; however, in our experience it wasn’t the case.
We dined in a couple of restaurants right at the water’s edge of Lake Garda and were paying around €8 to €12 for fresh pasta or a pizza. Which considering the incredible views, I thought was fairly reasonable.
Fuggerei at Augsburg
Prior to us visiting Augsburg we’d read about the Fuggerei. What I hear you say? Yes, the Fuggerei, it’s a quaint social housing settlement and was the first of its kind in the world. Founded in 1521 by “Jacob Fugger the Rich”, it is still occupied by 150 Catholic residents. However, it is also now a museum.
Herrengasse in the Fuggerei, Augsburg, Germany
It’s such a charming little place. Full of manicured homes which are so uniformly laid out, in the exact same colour. With Wisteria clinging to the walls and climbing roses clambering over the doorways.
The residents still continue to pay the original annual rent of a Rhine Guilder, (which today is 0.88 Euros).
Now, as the name would suggest, Limone Sul Garda has a history with lemons, and we wanted to find out a little more.
We’d spotted high across the town, tall wooden frames nestled against the edge of the mountains. So, we went in search.
The renovated 18th century La Limonaia del Castel, was such a pleasure to stroll around.
Terrace after terrace of citrus trees, wooden poles are slotted across the main beams for the lemon branches to stretch out amongst as the fruit dangles in the sunshine.
The Lemon House
Wiedfangbrunnen – Water well in Regensburg
Saint Emmeram’s Abbey, Regensburg
All around Rathausplatz it’s so attractive, lovely squares, charming architecture and some great cafés and restaurants. Regensburg also has some wonderful churches, although the one that blew me away was Saint Emmeram’s Abbey, also known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis. It was breath-taking inside; I just didn’t expect it to be so opulent and lavish.
A reference guide
I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
To shorten our journey back to the UK, we left Bavaria and stayed at Heppenheim, in Hesse for an evening. We were aware that this small region of Germany was famed for its winegrowing, so we were keeping a lookout for it rolling vineyards.
Marktplatz in Heppenheim, Germany
Nonetheless, I wasn’t expecting Heppenheim’s Marketplace to be so stunning. It’s reasonably small with an attractive fountain in the centre. However, the impressive town hall and timber-framed houses that encircle it are astounding. It is so pretty.
Italian towns around Lake Garda
It was such a delight touring around Lake Garda, we stopped at some beautiful towns. One was Peschiera del Garda in the far southeast of the lake and with so much character. We strolled around the bustling harbour, along its canals and through its historic streets.
Peschiera del Garda at the southern end of Lake Garda
We also jumped out at Salò, along the lake’s western shores. Salò was recommended to us by a local, and I’m so pleased we visited. The old town is full of narrow lanes and elegant colourful buildings. What I loved was the stroll along the promenade, passing the tempting bars and cafés.
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Bugatti Museum and monastery
Gary kept this one quiet, yep, a car museum.
I didn’t realise that Molsheim was not only famous for its wine, but also the home of the elegant Bugatti.
The museum itself was reasonably small, but that didn’t stop us from popping in and catching up on its fascinating history and its exhibits.
What was also interesting is that included in your ticket price was the entrance to an ancient former monastery named La Chartreuse.
It has now been lovingly restored, and you can enjoy the delightful herb and fruit gardens, as well as the museum within the monastery.
A classic Bugatti
Is there a better way to unwind for the day, than relaxing by Lake Garda and sampling the local Limoncello spritz? As it’s all things lemony in Limone Sul Garda, instead of Aperol, Limoncello is used in its place.
Two glasses of Limoncello Spritz,
I must say it works very well.
Something to make your travels easier?
Our Things to do Differently
Spend more time around Lake Garda
In hindsight, we could have spent at least another day around Lake Garda. It is incredibly beautiful, and there are so many interesting towns and villages to visit around the lake.
Let us know!
Our Slight Disappointment
It’s our fault really
A local recommended to us to visit the Sanctuary of Montecastello by Tignale, as the views from the top were incredible. We knew it was going to be a bit of a hike; however, a little more than I expected.
A view from the sanctuary of Montecastello across Lake Garda
The views across Lake Garda were stunning, but I completely forgot that in Italy you cannot enter their churches if you are wearing shorts. So, unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the sanctuary.
Oh well, one for next time.
Points of Note
Tolls, vignettes and Low Emission Zone (LEZs)
France – In France you pay the tolls as you go, and I recommend using a credit card as it is a lot quicker and simpler passing through.
Austria – If you are going to use the motorways in Austria, you will need a vignette. Annoyingly the shortest duration ticket is 10 days and is costs around €9.
Germany - Be aware that some German towns and cities have Low Emission Zones. Therefore, you will require a sticker for the windscreen of your car, to signify which category your car emissions fall into.
We found the following websites useful; also, you can apply online in advance for the sticker for €6 (2019). The Urban Access Regulations in Europe details all the European emission zones and the Senate Department for Environment is where you can purchase you Germany LEZ sticker.
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