Having enjoyed ten fabulous days in Switzerland, it was time to move on to another country, and Italy was to be our next destination. With limited time available, we decided not to venture too far south, and so our Italian experience would be limited to Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) located in Italy's Lombardy region to the north.
As soon as we passed through Switzerland's St Gotthard tunnel (18km long!) and crossed the Italian border, everything seemed to crank up a notch! The temperature rose, the amount of traffic increased and the pace of life in general seemed to speed up.
Our accommodation for the next week was a mobile home in one of the many campsites located around the lake, ours being at Toscalano Moderno. After checking in and unpacking, we set off to check out the campsite's facilities - pools, restaurant, lake-front beach, etc - before taking a refreshing dip. The temperature had now reached 35 degrees C and we were ready to cool off.
Our week at Lake Garda involved plenty of swimming and relaxing, interspersed with some serious sightseeing. We visited Sirmione at the bottom of the lake, with its 13th Century castle and tightly packed medieval streets. We bought fresh fruit and ate it as we wandered the quaint streets and snapped away with our camera. Every corner seemed to produce an even more beautiful shot.
Another day trip, and certainly a highlight, was our trip to Venice. Catching the train from Desenzano to Venice, the trip took just over two hours and saved us the hassles of parking on arrival in Venice.
We walked from the station to Piazzo San Marco (St Marks Square) via the Rialto Bridge, stopping for pizza slices and fruit that we bought along the way. We were overwhelmed by Venice - of course we had seem photos before of the famous city, but until you actually wander the streets and cross the many bridges, you can't really get a true feel for Venice.
Gondoliers touted for business, pigeons flocked in the Piazza and tourists hunted for souvenirs, but Venice had the special something you can only experience first hand.
The kids also enjoyed a visit to Gardaland, Italy's largest amusement park, where they revelled in water rides, rollercoasters, 3D shows and 'side show alley' games. We arrived at 4pm to avoid the heat of the day and it wasn't until 10pm that we headed for home, exhausted!
On our way from Lake Garda to Italy's northern town of Bozen/Bolzano, we stopped in the Lake's most northern town of Riva Del Garda. This pretty little town boasts a lovely harbour and pedestrianised 'old town', and we enjoyed lunch at a lakeside cafe, watching the cruise boats arrive and the ducks swimming.
It was a relaxing way to conclude our visit to one of Italy's most popular lakes, and whilst the region, like most of Italy, could only be described as 'full on', there is plenty to offer the holiday maker, whether it be water sports or history, or anything in between!
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