Sunday, July 6, 2014 / ... comments / ,

Lake Garda, Italy {With Kids}

Lake Garda is a beautiful lake in northern Italy dotted with picturesque little towns. It's the perfect travel destination for families... or anyone! 
italy street
We're back home! We had a wonderful time in Italy, one of my favorite places in the world, but are happy to be home in our own beds. While in Italy we were based in Garda, Verona. Garda is a charming little town on Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. It's about two hours east of Lake Como, and 1 hour West of Venice. It's an absolutely spectacular area; one you'll definitely want to add to your wanderlust Pinterest board. Let me show you around... 
garda
The lakefront is lined with tables luring passersby in for a cappuccino or Aperol spritz. The girls loved feeding the ducklings here while we waited for our food. I adore the car-free zones of many European cities. They are the perfect place for kids to run and play. 
italy kids
Where did we stay? We swapped our Santa Barbara home with a family in Italy. My mom came for a short visit and stayed at the Hotel Regina Adelaide. I highly recommend this beautiful hotel in in Garda - it's beautiful with large suites, a kind staff, and a killer breakfast buffet. The pool photo above was from the home. We really lucked out. cycling lake garda 
Though we have spent quite a bit of time in Italy before, this was our first trip with the kids, and our first visit to the lakes. We were nervous about the 11 hour flight with a 4 and 6 year old, and didn't know what to expect. The kids did great though. And Yummy Hubby was thrilled with Lake Garda, especially when he found out it is a cycling haven. Cyclists flock to the hilly landscape with stunning views. He rented a bike in Lazise (a town nearby) and rode almost every day. 
aperol spritz 
I, on the other hand, was busy sampling the local delights. Like the most popular drink in Italy right now, the Aperol Spritz. If you haven't tried it, Aperol is made by Campari, but is less bitter. The spritz is an aperitif made with Aperol and prosecco and finished with a slice of orange. It's a little sweet, a little bitter, and very refreshing! Recipe for an Aperol Spritz at the end of the post. italian pottery
5 of each, please! The outdoor markets in Italy are so much fun. Vendors line the streets with gorgeous pottery, clothing, gifts, and food. Our girls loved getting fresh calamari in a brown bag at the frito misto truck at the Friday market in Garda. Sadly, I didn't have enough space in my luggage for much of this lovely pottery. Next time I'm bringing an extra suitcase.




Lazise Lazise Italy
Lazise is another beautiful little town about 20 minutes drive down the lake. We visited on market day, so it was a little hectic for my taste. There's also an amusement park nearby, but roller coasters aren't really our thing. So off we went to a real castle... 

Malcesine Castle malcesine castle 
Oh Malcescine... I absolutely adored this town. It may be my favorite of the towns we visited on the lake. We climbed to the top of the castle, which has stunning views of the lake. Inside the castle is fun too- it's like a mini historical museum with exhibits on the local animals, fish, and plants. 

Sirmione
sirmione 
On second thought, Sirmione was my favorite of the towns we visited. A ferry ride is a great way to get around the lake. It provides a different view as the boat approaches the town, and the "rapido" or quick boats get you to your destination faster than driving. Sirmione is at the very bottom of the lake and has turquoise waters, fantastic gelato, and another stunning castle. Sirmione Castle 
It was incredible to walk over the drawbridges that were used hundreds of years ago to keep the castle safe. From the top, we could see fish swimming in the beautiful aqua water. Can you believe people actually used to live here?!? 
Sirmione Beach 
Directly next to Sirmione Castle is a little beach that is just how I had imagined an Italian lake beach. Clear water, pebbles, ducks, and swans. Better watch your gelato though, we saw this bold swan snatch several from getlato-eating visitors. The kids were so happy here and asked to come back the next day. italy gelato
No words. 

miralago
We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Miralago in Costermano the last night. It was very kid-friendly and reasonably priced for such a beautiful view of the lake. I had one last Aperol Spritz here and it only cost 3 Euro.

Next up, I'll take you around Venice.

How to Make an Aperol Spritz

Ingredients:
  • 3 parts prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 splash soda 
  • ice 
  • orange slices for garnish 
Instructions: 
Place ice in glasses. Pour prosecco over, then Aperol and soda. Top with a slice of orange. 


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