Thursday, June 23rd
The weather has been hot all week. I prefer hot to cold weather though so it’s been ok for me. I ate my breakfast quickly outside on the deck so I could take the early boat to try to visit two more towns midway up on the lake before the early afternoon closure of most towns.
After buying my ticket, I waited for the boat to arrive. The boat was a “rapido” boat and it arrived at Torri del Benaco about an hour and 40 minutes later.
The town of Torri was just waking up when I arrived about 9:30. I stopped to get a cappuccino scuro since the coffee at my hotel is not very good; I have never figured out why most hotels do not make good coffee like the bars do. I also decided that the cappuccino scuro had too much milk for my taste and that I still prefer an espresso macchiato.
I walked around the town to take a few pictures. Here a a couple of my favorites…
Then I went over to the Castle to go inside. The cost was three euro. The smallest amount I had was 10 euro. The women did not have change. I had a two euro coin and some change (but not adding up to three euros). She was very kind and told me that the amount I had was ok. I told her I was sorry again and she insisted that she was sorry for not having change!
The castle had a few rooms filled with ancient fishing information and a very interesting map of how the town was split up into parcels of land with the names of each family that owned the land back before Italy became united. I climbed the tower (4th tower I think now) and walked around at the top. This castle also had a second tower that you could climb after reaching the top of the first tower and also a walk way to walk around the castle wall at the top.
While at the top, I saw the traghetto/car ferry arriving and though catching this ferry instead of staying in Torri for another hour or so might be a good idea. There are two car ferries that cross the lake in two different spots. Here between Torri and Maderno and also farther up the lake between Limone and Malcèsine. Because the ferry took a while to board all the cars I ended up having enough time to reach the ferry and buy my ticket before it left.
The ride to Maderno took about 20 minutes. I had not heard of this town before, but saw it on my way back to Sirmione on Tuesday and thought it would be an interesting town to visit. The town was very beautiful. It was a nice place to take photos but there really was not much else to do in this little town.
I did experience my first “hole in the floor” Turkish toilet on this trip in the town of Maderno. After taking a few pictures and walking around a bit, I went back to the boat dock to take the next boat back to Sirmione.
While waiting for the boat, I decided that I might as well go past Sirmione to Desenzano del Garda since I only spent about 20 minutes or so there on Monday when arriving from the train station. Of course I was not thinking about the fact that the town would be closed when I arrived! The boat ride was almost two hours. I sat out in the sun by the edge of the boat catching some rays while enjoying the wonderful views of the lake, taking a few pictures along the way. The only picture I took while in Desenzano del Garda was taken on Monday/day I arrived at Lake Garda.
I was very hungry when I arrived in Desenzano. I bought a peach gelato at Vivaldi’s, the recommended gelataria in the area. It was delicious! Then I wandered the town in search of a place to get some lunch. I wanted more than just a panino or slice of pizza. I finally came across this interesting restaurant called the Cactus with glass floors and sand/rocks below the glass. The restaurant was empty except for four Italian men sitting at a table. It is unusual to find a restaurant open later in the afternoon that serves all courses. Lucky me! I had a wonderful pasta with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and rucola, a great find!
I headed back to the boat dock and waited for the next boat to take me back to Sirmione.
By the time I arrived back in Sirmione, I was exhausted! I took a short nap and then started packing my things. I originally planned to take the train the following morning (Friday) to Coccaglio, where Katia lives, but there was a nationwide train strike planned to start Thursday night and continue all through Friday.
My friends, Katia & Guido, thought it would be easier to pick me up the Thursday night instead of having me deal with the strike on Friday. *The strike ended up being cancelled at the last minute. I was able to arrange with the hotel for them to come into the town and park at the hotel. It was great seeing Katia and Guido again!! We ate dinner at the same restaurant that I ate at the night before. Each of us ordered a pizza. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and then went back to my hotel to gather up my bags and then Guido drove us back to Katia’s house.
Final Thoughts on my stay in Sirmione & time on Lake Garda: I really enjoyed my time visiting Lake Garda. Perfect weather, fun castles to visit, beautiful views. There was so much more that I was not able to see… I will have to return again one day!
I would probably stay somewhere in the middle or at the top of the lake if I do return for another stay. It is expensive to take the boat from Sirmione anywhere due to the location at the bottom of the lake. The boat rides to visit the rest of the lake would probably be cheaper when staying midway up on the lake or up north (depending where else you plan to visit).
I thought that Sirmione was a beautiful town and I loved touring the Castle and the walk to the Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione, but I felt that the town was very “touristy” when it came to the shops and the food choices. It was packed with tourists, even at night. Of course I was there during the beginning of summer, so it may be different other times of the year.
The boats were great to take first thing in the morning before the town woke up, but later on, it was everyone for themselves getting on the boats with the huge crowds at each stop.
I thought that the towns on Lake Garda were amazing and enjoyed the rides on the lake by boat (once I secured a seat). I loved Malcèsine and Riva del Garda the best. Riva seemed less touristy than many of the other towns. There were also some interesting towns to explore midway on the lake.
My hotel, Hotel Eden, was located in the perfect spot. Great views, huge buffet breakfasts, nice tables out by the lake. The people at the desk were very helpful. My room was clean and comfortable, but small (I booked a single room). I would stay there again.