I have just come back from a fantastic trip to the northern side of lake Garda.
I was invited by the tourism agency Garda Trentino to discover the local area, meet several artisans, visit local farms, enjoy cooking experiences and dine in various local restaurants. Sounds great doesn’t? And yep….indeed it was.
I have been truly overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality of all the people I met there who made my stay simply wonderful.
I have learnt how to make local dishes, to taste and understand the production of good quality olive oil, all about organic biodinamic organic farming (very popular there), how balsamic vinegar is made and I have enjoyed wonderful food in different restaurants.
During the next few weeks I will be sharing several posts with all my photos and traditional recipes from this area which you will be able to try at home too. I could not put my camera down and had to buy more memory cards in order to keep taking more photos! My travelling companion was fellow blogger Fiona of London Unattached, who is one of the top lifestyle, food and travel bloggers in the UK. There is so much interesting content on her blog and I can certainly recommend visiting it.
Lake Garda is the largest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy with a total length of 52 Km /32 miles. It covers areas within Lombardy, Veneto and the Trentino Alto-Adige regions. The Southern side is characterized by low, rolling land whereas the Northern side is surrounded by towering mountains and cliffs with breathtaking views.
I stayed at Riva del Garda which is located on the north end of the lake, a pretty, lively and picturesque little town. This is where the lake dramatically ends with the mountains rising on either side. It is perfect for sports and outdoor life, here you can sail, cycle, kite and windsurf, scuba dive, kayak and canoe and many more activities. But it is also a great place to go and discover delicious organic and local artisan food. Clearly this is what I was most interested in.
The second largest town of Lake Garda is Riva del Garda which used to be part of Austria until 1918, this is why if you stroll around the streets you can still find Austrian architecture.
Riva is located in the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the province of Trento.
I enjoyed strolling along the streets and narrow lanes and having a coffee with a view of the lake was so peaceful and relaxing. Generally lakes have a calming effect on the mind so they are ideal if you are stressed and want a relaxing holiday.
The town has a harbour and a museum housed in its fortress known as the “Rocca” where you can find historical exhibits, paintings and temporary exhibitions.
One the most striking buildings in the heart of town is the clock-tower called Torre Apponale which dates back to the thirteenth century which is open to the public. From the top you have a marvellous view of the lake and of the town.
When I am in Italy I always enjoy having a passeggiata (walk) holding a freshly made ice cream. This is such an Italian thing to do.
As soon as I arrived at Riva del Garda I had an aperitivo at Nuovo ‘900 an historic and informal restaurant situated in the centre of Riva del Garda.
This place has a great variety of wines. I loved the Nosiola wine which is a dry light and fresh white wine typical of the Trentino Region.
I had trout, freshly caught pike from the lake and a plate of local salami and ham with local white wine. I thought the quality was very good, the fish had just been caught the night before so it was really fresh. All the food was local and this is what I loved about it. This is a good place to enjoy aperitivo.
The restaurant offers a traditional cuisine with local seasonal products of Trentino combined with the Umbro-Romana one. This is because the owner, Mr Lucio originates from the Umbria region.
This was followed by dinner at Leon d’Oro a family run restaurant which started in 1939 run by the Salvaneschi Family. It’s characterized by its original furniture and friendly atmosphere and it is situated in the pedestrian area right in the town centre. They serve classical Italian food, local dishes including fish from the lake and lots of sea food (which I love) plus they have a very rich wine cellar.
The meal was served with several wines to match the dishes like “Abate Nero” di De Castel Terlago Eugenio (Chardonnay in Purezza) and Teroldego Rutaliano from “Bottega Vinai” Cavit.
I first had a pumpkin soup and I tried different local olive oils with it.
This was followed by smoked trout which was very fresh, lots of flavour there! Bigoli, a local pasta served with sardines from the lake and confit cherry tomatoes. I never had lake sardines before, their slightly salty taste can really give a kick to a dish.
I also had risotto with local black truffles served on a cheese basket. By now I was too full to have any more food. I was treated so well… like a queen!
Being so full I tried hard to resist a dessert but they were so insisting that eventually I had to have a lemon sorbet (delicious) and then it was time to go but not before being offered a liquorice digestif which I often have when I am in Italy. It is what I would describe as a full bodied liqueur, delicious if you like liquorice of course.
This is a good place to go for a meal if you are in town and the prices are very reasonable.