When planning our late-Autumn break last year, my sister and I went through our usual indecision when choosing where to go. Warm and sunny was a no-brainer… but not too hot. A beach holiday was out because we’d get bored… and not a 100% city break because we did want to have some relaxation, right?!
It took a bit of jumping around the world map but we eventually we decided on Italy. Now the question was, where in Italy? We had already been to Rome some 10 years ago which was fantastic, but there were so many other Italian gems to see. What about Venice? Or Florence? Sorrento and the Amalfi coast? Or even further South – Palermo perhaps? So many places and so little time!!
Even so, we kept thinking about Venice – we had shortlisted it a few years ago, but it was too expensive in summer. Canvassing opinion from friends, it was universal opinion that a week in Venice would be too long, but the train network in Italy would make it super easy for us to experience more of Italy in only a few hours.
This meant we could build an amazing 7 days filled with R&R, beautiful views, culture, city life and shopping. Boom. This was the winning itinerary – Lake Garda, Verona, Venice and, last but not least, Milan.
First up, Lake Garda.
This is the largest lake in Italy, famous for its beautiful scenery and crystal blue waters. We stayed in Sirmione, a town on the southern end of the lake sitting on land protruding into the lake. It’s a really pretty town and easy to get to by train which makes it a popular destination. Sirmione is definitely beautiful, but as it is at the south end, you don’t really get scenes of the lake with the mountains in full view. For that, you would have to go to one of the towns on the narrower northern end of Lake Garda, such as Limone Sul Garda. But as you can see below, the views from Sirmione are still super beautiful and picturesque.
Scaliger Castle is one of Sirmione’s landmarks. It’s a beautiful 13th century castle surrounded by water and the only way to enter is over the drawbridge!
Then take a walk along the rocky beach all the way to the end of the peninsular for beautiful views of the lake.
Another thing that you can do in Sirmione is go to a spa! The area is famous for its thermal waters and there are many spas and hotels that you can go to. Aquaria Thermal Spa is a popular destination, but it looked really busy, so we opted to go to a more intimate and smaller hotel spa. If you choose to do the same, just be careful as some hotels don’t offer their spa services unless you are staying at the hotel. We found Hotel Olivi which offered a 3-hour non-resident spa pass (Euro 25 Mon – Thurs, Euro 30 Fri – Sun) and we booked a day in advance. The spa had warm indoor and outdoor thermal pools, saunas and fragrant steam baths – so relaxing!! I felt absolutely amazing afterwards! I wish we had longer, I could have stayed all day…
Next time, experience fair Verona with me – don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss it!