THE TREASURE OF THE GARDA
If as soon as you put your feet out of the car a sudden gust of wind surprises you, tousling your hair, you will know you have arrived at your destination. Welcome! You are in exactly one of the smallest towns on the entire Lake Garda, which, by no means, fails to provide unforgettable memories. Follow me and we will discover together the things to see and do in Torbole.
Torbole is located in the northernmost part of the lake, just a 10-minute drive from Riva del Garda. If we wanted to be precise, the full name of this municipality is “Nago-Torbole,” which correspond to its two towns. Specifically, Torbole is where the Town Hall is located and is bathed by the waters of Lake Garda. Nago, on the other hand, is located along the slopes of Mount Altissimo.
This explains why here, as in few other places to visit on Lake Garda, the Ora and Peler blow all year round.
You’ll have to get used to them a bit, but on the other hand, in warm weather, the sun almost always shines in Torbole!
3 THINGS TO SEE IN TORBOLE
1. Torbole’s Old Town, Beach and Lakefront
Of all the things to see and do in Nago Torbole, it is a must to start with the hidden treasures in its historic center…Although the real jewel of the town is its quaint and colorful marina.
As I told you before, the wind blows hard here, especially in winter! So, sitting coldly on a bench to seek the nearest shelter, I found myself not far from the Dazio House. How did I recognize it? Simple: I immediately noticed the flowers that, with elegant harmony, frame its windows.
This small Venetian-style building was first the headquarters of the Austrian Customs House, and then became a fisherman’s dwelling. Today it is privately owned, but is sometimes opened in conjunction with special occasions. If by chance you happen to be there right then, you absolutely cannot help but go and peek inside.
Making your way through the shady alleys of the center, you will then find Casa Alberti. Next to the little fountain, the name of the famous writer and painter, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, will jump out at you. The epigraph is meant to commemorate the poet’s much-loved stay in Torbole, which inspired him in many of his works.
Goethe was completely captivated by the rare beauty of one of the most enchanting places to visit on Lake Garda…Especially for its crystal clear waters.
He himself wrote that he wished he could show his friends all that wonder. Then again, happiness is much better when shared with someone you love! Therefore, I recommend that you come here with the right people.
Chasing the lake breeze again, you come to a very bright square. You will soon realize what the source of so much splendor is: the Church of Santa Maria al Lago. Pure white and snow-white, it dominates the entire view. Although it is quite modern, built only in 1989, it is a very special place for the inhabitants. In fact, its purpose was to allow families far from the main basilica to attend Holy Masses.
Even today, during the celebrations, the faith and sense of community of the local people shines through, which is increasingly rare. Not for nothing, I got excited to take part in it myself. Anyway, in a moment I will explain everything about the other church, St. Andrew’s Basilica, as well. Read on to find out more about it!
Among the 3 things to see in Torbole, especially in warm weather, the lakeside walk is then a must. Warmed by the sun’s rays, you’ll hear the waves gently crashing on the shore. The Church of Santa Maria is very close by, so you will easily find it.
In short, if you are looking for tranquility, you are in the right place. Here, the mountain peaks are reflected in perfect symmetries in the surface….
Certainly something you don’t see every day, nor in many other places to visit on Lake Garda.
By the way, by dint of walking, at some point you probably won’t even realize you’ve arrived in Riva del Garda! To find out what to see in the northernmost town, I suggest you take a look here.
But let’s go back for a moment before we pick up the pace. I always say that, to admire the most beautiful shades of blue, you have to go up toward the northern part of the lake. Here, the water plays in a continuous contrast between green and blue, creating a spectacle of crystal-clear emerald trails... It almost seems to be made on purpose to prevent anyone who sees it from continuing further!
Surrounded by the amazing colors that paint the landscape, take a moment to savor the fresh mountain air. “Seize the moment,” as they say! Lie back on the beach’s myriad pebbles
And enjoy your well-deserved rest.
2. The Giants’ Cauldrons
Sometimes nature really leaves me breathless. It is amazing how some morphological phenomena, sometimes explained by ancient mythological legends, can almost convince me that magic really exists! As in the case of the Giants’ Cauldrons, for example. If you are looking for 3 things to see in Torbole that will leave a memory impossible to forget, you can’t miss them.
In fact, Torbole is the only one among all the places to visit on Lake Garda where you can find them. Did you know.
The Marmitte dei Giganti are, in fact, glacial pits: a sign that, at one time, that place was overlooked by mighty glaciers. Their gradual melting has smoothed and shaped the rocks below, creating veritable tunnels. The currently longest one reaches up to about 15 meters, but it can be traveled in total safety.
If you’re a bit of an inquisitive spirit like me, you may be wondering why these wells are so named… in a nutshell, legend has it that Giants used to gather in these hollows to quench their thirst. A slightly different version tells instead that inside them these huge creatures prepared their dinner. Fascinating and creepy at the same time!
In any case, the potholes can be reached via a path that winds at the Villa Stella hotel. To the right, in fact, a path branches off that leads to an isolated bench. Here, descend to the left, be patient for a while and you will be ready to witness the magic firsthand.
3. Viewpoints: St. Andrew’s Church and Penede Castle
Finally, here we are at the Church of St. Andrew. By climbing one of the two long stairways that start directly from the historic center, we reach this small pastel yellow sanctuary. If the view is crazy enough during the day, think how incredible the sunset seen from up here must be.
All the places to visit on Lake Garda have a vantage point where you can watch the sun go down. Even the one in Torbole is really special.
Try it to believe: I could simply show you a photograph taken at the right moment rather than using words. I could not quantify all the shades that color the sky, painting a canvas of cold and warm colors mixed together. The exact instant you click the button, the scenery will have already changed color!
The church, then, is an extremely important symbol for the town. First, after the destruction caused by the French in the early 18th century, it was rebuilt in the late Baroque style. The result went beyond all expectations, restoring it to its original beauty. Moreover, it is said that the painting of the apse was made inspired by the common people of ancient Torbole.
Another respectable vantage point is located within Penede Park, more precisely on the top of its castle. Due to its elevated and especially strategic location, it was repeatedly exploited in the past as a “bulwark” by those who lived here. Think that even the Celts immediately understood its importance.
However, it is rare to find an enchanted place where so many legends are hidden… You will discover them one by one by following the top 3 things to see and do in Torbole!
Another very famous belief among the locals is precisely related to this castle. It is about none other than one of the greatest poets who ever lived: Dante Alighieri. Within Canto XX of the Inferno, Dante seems to describe exactly the view you get from Castel Penede. Once you reach the summit, you will feel as if you can still feel the poet’s soul floating silently in the surrounding air…
There are very few places to visit on Lake Garda that have amazed so many writers of the past.
However, to get to the point where the views will be breathtaking, start at Piazza Vittorio Veneto in the center of Torbole. Continuing toward Nago, turn right at the bocce court. You will make your way through nature until you reach the ruins. There, a spectacular view will open up divided between Lake Garda on one side and the Lower Sarca plain on the other. Once this little adventure is over, you will know where to return to when you need to regenerate.
3 COSE DA FARE A TORBOLE
1. Route of Saint Lucia, in the footsteps of Goethe
As I mentioned in the first lines, Goethe himself left his heart in this small village. But when did the writer come all the way here? Precisely, on the evening of September 12, 1786. Goethe took the only road then possible to descend from the Adige Valley to Lake Garda: the historic Santa Lucia road.
Now, imagine that you are completely surrounded by olive trees of the most diverse shapes: you will already be able to smell them. Most of this route, in fact, passes through vast olive groves, taking you higher and higher… Until you are left with the just reward for setting out. A postcard view.
A little bit of trivia: the trail was the great protagonist of the famous Battle of Ponale. In fact, the Venetians used the small road to transport numerous boats to the shore, and then continued in a clash on the water. In short, you will really follow the traces of history and literature.
2. Around Torbole: the Busatte Tempesta Trail and Trekking on Monte Baldo
Among the dream places to visit on Lake Garda it is a must to include the Busatte Tempesta Trail…If you want to learn more, read the related article here.
Let’s continue discovering things to do and see in Torbole. Moving a little higher up the mountain, lies one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the entire lake: the Busatte Tempesta Trail. The route takes its name from the two localities that are connected by it, starting from Busatte. Following steep lanes, you arrive to park your car at the Adventure Park.
After the first few minutes, you will suddenly find yourself at the top of an overhang. A long flight of steps, echoing the verdant color of nature, will be the only way down! You will walk alongside the huge mountain rocks that stand out protectively over the lake, while a gentle breeze will accompany you at every step.
Overall, I assure you that the path is not strenuous, lasting only an hour and a half. After the staircase, however, you will return to the mainland, continuing through picturesque views peeking out of the vegetation. You can then choose whether to descend to Tempesta or return, following a loop trail.
On the other hand, if you are a lover of trekking and, perhaps, also of animals, you could participate in a hike with cute donkeys! The hikes are organized periodically by the Municipality of Nago-Torbole.
As soon as they offer it again, I hope to be able to have a similar experience myself. Anyway, the support point for the last one was Malga Casina, on Mount Baldo, also better known as the “garden of Europe.”
From the highest mountain peaks you can catch a glimpse of so many places to visit on Lake Garda, did you know?
After exploring fauna and flora along the ascent, a refreshing dinner and a night in a tent, surrounded by silence, awaits you. If it is not very cold, this is also a unique opportunity for stargazing! The next morning, after breakfast, another day of new routes awaits you.
Don’t fear for the donkeys. Contrary to what you may think, they are strong animals and love to be in company. They will carry your luggage for you!
3. Sports and Food: to end on a high note
Are you one of those people who believe there is no fun without the thrill of adrenaline? Among the things to do in Torbole there is something for you too. In fact, right in Torbole, there is a center that specializes 100% in canyoning. If you don’t know what it is, let me explain it in brief. First of all, it is a water sport, which involves swimming, sliding and diving into the waters along exciting natural routes.
Although I was theoretically born under an earth sign, in practice I believe that water is that one element in which I can find myself. However, I am more of a sailing type. Sailing in harmony with the air currents is a wonderful feeling. If you also prefer other water sports, know that you will not be disappointed, however. Not only sailing, but also windsurfing and kitesurfing-they are all widely practiced in these areas.
If, on the other hand, you loved climbing tree trunks as a child, you will be in seventh heaven when you enter the Adventure Park in Busatte. With all the necessary equipment, you can decide which route to take. Incidentally, with a little revolution: you’ll never have to take off your carabiner for the duration of the route!
Suitable for both young and old, it is ideal for spending a different day in one of the must-visit places on Lake Garda.
However, is it me who tires easily or is talking about sports itself a little tiring? I’m already getting a little hungry… As a note, I’ll take the opportunity to end with the typical products you’ll find here.
Among the things to do in Torbole, especially if it rains, you absolutely must taste some local dish or a local specialty. Did you know, for example, that there is Broccolo di Torbole? It is a true Trentino excellence, grown in the area around the town and Linfano. You will find it fresh mainly in the months from November to February.
On the other hand, there are many farms that produce local extra virgin olive oil, very often organic. Just think of how many olive trees can be found on the avenue of Santa Lucia!
However, there remains one last point, perhaps the most important: where to eat in Torbole?
Among the most popular are La Terrazza Restaurant and Aqua Restaurant: ideal if you want to try quality lake fish. Otherwise, if you’re returning from a walk or bike ride, there’s Al Fortino bikebar&food. Whether it’s for a quick brunch or a meaty lunch, you’ll not only regain your strength–but you’ll satisfy your appetite with a beautiful view of the lake.