THE WATER MILLS VILLAGE
Near Lake Garda there is a village which, due to its majesty, is included in the Club of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy. It is a small medieval village, practically unchanged over the years, which is absolutely worth visiting at least once in a lifetime!
In this article I will tell you about three things to do in Borghetto.
Before we start, here is some general information on the history of this must-see place near Lake Garda.
Some remains indicate that probably the first human settlement took place during the Iron Age. The first inhabited nucleus, however, dates back to the Lombard period. Among the people who lived there, there was also the customs officer who was in charge of collecting taxes for crossing the Mincio River. The only possible way to do this was to walk across the ford.
After the arrival of the Scaliger, construction began on a wooden bridge and a fortified system of which you can see the crenellated tower. Later they also built a dam which changed the course of the river and made it impossible to cross it on foot.
The village then passed to the Republic of Venice and in that period the grinding of cereals and rice began. This had a great impact on the appearance of the village. In fact, the numerous wheel mills are still visible today as you walk through the alleys of the center.
Borghetto then passes to the Lombard-Veneto Kingdom, and subsequently divided between Austria and Italy, finally becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy.
To date, Borghetto sul Mincio is the best-known hamlet of Valeggio sul Mincio on the border between Veneto and Lombardy.
THREE THINGS TO DO IN BORGHETTO IN ONE DAY
First let’s see how to reach the village.
If you are by car, you can get to Valeggio sul Mincio and then follow the signs for Borgetto which is only one kilometer away. Outside the center of the hamlet, you will find some car parks and camper parking areas.
Instead, if you arrive by public transport you can take the ATV 479 bus. Remember, however, that this line is only in summer. Alternatively, there are buses from Mantua and the lake that run all year round, such as the APAM line 46 which leaves from Peschiera del Garda.
Tourists from all over Italy and Europe come to visit Borghetto sul Mincio. If you are in the surrounding area do not miss this place to visit near Lake Garda, because it will surely leave you speechless!
But we will deepen this point shortly, first I want to talk to you about two structures that characterize this place.
1. BRIDGE VISCONTEO AND BRIDGE SAN MARCO
Borghetto is entirely surrounded by the Mincio River and there are two main bridges: Ponte San Marco and Ponte Visconteo.
I start from Ponte San Marco because if you come from Valeggio you will enter the village from there. It is a small wooden bridge near the Church of San Marco Evangelista. As you walk through it you will also see the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of rivers and bridges. According to legend, the Saint protects those who fall into the river from drowning.
The wooden bridge is very characteristic and adorned with flowerpots throughout the year. Don’t forget to cross it during your holiday in this must-see place near Lake Garda.
Once on the bridge, if you take a look to your right you can admire the imposing Ponte Visconteo and the small waterfalls that form in the river.
A walk on the Visconti Bridge is certainly one of the three things to do in Borghetto, the most majestic point of interest in the village. The locals also call it “Ponte Lungo” and it is still used today to cross the village by car.
Built in 1393 at the behest of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, it is 650 meters long, 21 wide and 9 meters high from the river. The bridge was a dam that was used to divert the river. Furthermore, at the time, crenellated walls connected it to the Scaliger Castle of Valeggio of which you can see the towers as you walk on the bridge.
2. HISTORICAL CENTER OF BORGHETTO
Once you have passed the two bridges that delimit the village, all you have to do is take a walk inside the historic center.
The mills, the small waterfalls, the craft shops and the restaurants are the characteristic elements of Borghetto sul Mincio. Get lost in the alleys with the sound of water in the background and observe all the postcard views of the center.
In the village you will see three well-preserved and still functioning water mills. Next to one of them is the Lovers’ Corner: a railing with hundreds of colored padlocks hanging. There are also other old mills around the village but not so well preserved. In some it is also possible to visit the interior to observe how thanks to the power of water it was possible to grind cereals.
While you’re there, stop for a Spritz at some bar or have an ice cream sitting on a bench while gazing out at the river. And please, don’t forget to take lots of photos!
Leave your mark on this must-see place near Lake Garda and hang a padlock on the railing too! Write on it with a permanent marker so if you come back a second time you can recognize yours.
3. DELIGHT YOUR PALATE
The last thing I recommend among the three things to do in Borghetto is simply to taste the famous tortellini!
Tortellini di Valeggio, also called agnolini in dialect, are definitely worth tasting during your visit to the village. Delicious to eat with homemade broth, surely in all the local families there is someone capable of making them. In fact, they are never lacking on the table during the holidays, such as for the Christmas Eve dinner.
They are also called Love Knot because they are linked to the legend of the nymph Silva and Captain Malco. It narrates that the two lovers left a yellow silk cloth tied on the banks of the Mincio as a sign of their love.
The recipe for these tortellini involves wrapping the braised meat (beef, pork, veal and chicken) in a thin golden sheet. Then cook them in water and dress them with what you like best.
To enrich your visit a little, add some events to the list of three things to do in Borghetto.
The main one is certainly the Feast of the Knot of Love. Every year on the third Tuesday of June a long table is prepared on the Visconti Bridge for more than 3000 people. The whole event revolves around the Love Knot: during the evening handmade tortellini are served together with other typical local products.
At the end of the evening, then, there will be music and fireworks.
The second event in Borghetto is during the Christmas period. The whole village will be filled with magic and golden lights. Next to the San Marco Bridge there is a giant sequoia thirty meters high which every year is illuminated with 6000 light bulbs during the “lighting ceremony of the sequoia”.