Summer holidays spent in the mountains and by the lakes will always be my most favourite travel option. Not only do you get stunning scenery, you get beautiful weather and often, a very calm atmosphere. I like to think that it is sort of a holiday makers secret! A place people don’t immediately think to travel to, but once they do they fall in love with the destination. Having visited numerous of other locations on the Thomson Lakes and Mountains list, I was soon to be going back to the Lakes in Italy, but this time to Lake Garda and staying in the picture-perfect Lazise.
I have said it before, I will say I again, summer by the lakes, and in the mountains is where you will find my happy place! I think a lot of people only connect sorts of holidays with snow, or (I hate to say it) old folk. That it is some how only for your granny and grandad to go for their annual holiday, where they will take little walks and tell you about Doris and Derek who they met whilst having afternoon tea. Strike that from your thoughts right now, because it is so more than that. Obviously there is that an element of it, because why would this stereotype exist? But I want you to go into my post open minded. The fact of the matter is, these oldies are onto something and I am about to completely convince you that this is the holiday trip for you.
I kicked off my trip out of Birmingham airport at silly o’clock, prematurely feeling I had got this trip in a smooth transaction but going through security took quite some time. None the less the flight with Lufthansa took off on time, to Munich where I would then catch a flight to Verona. With it only being about 40 minute drive from the Airport to Sirimone. I also downloaded the Thomson Lakes and Mountains app whilst waiting for my flights to get all the latest on the resorts I would be visiting.
Sirimone – Discovering Lugana wine & sampling the best Gelato
I sort of hit the ground running as I was heading straight to Sirimone with the rest of my group for lunch, then looking around to explore the area. Sirimone once upon a time played host to Roman poet Catullo and was adored by Romans for it’s thermal lake, was now full of energy with lively cafes and restaurant. Booming with lots of people enjoying the delicious gelato parlours on most alleyway corners, meant I couldn’t wait to try one! But more than anything I couldn’t believe my luck as the weather was hitting up to a steamy 28 degrees, so the sun cream came straight out. After I arrived I got my priorities in order and I indulged in a fantastic chilled class of the local Luganda wine, all whilst watching as locals and holidaymakers going about their day. The bar and restaurant I went to was one that had been standing for generations, with its impeccable service my wine was soon accompanied by some local olives – a superb start to my trip. From there I met others from my group for lunch at the quaint Hotel Meridiana, and after an exploration of its facilities we enjoyed some tasty food together. Soon after it was back on the ferry over to the old shipyard town, Lazise on the last boat of the day.
Lazise – Hotel Bella Lazise and Cycling in Style
It took about 15-20 minutes to go from Sirmione to Lasize and the ride over the water was calm, and of course full of delightful views. Lazise was a place that is happily nuzzled between the bigger resorts, Bardolino and Peschiera, but plays host to one of the very few golden beaches in Lakes Garda. The wonderful thing I soon discovered was that each of the resorts were easy to access, so you could essentially hop between them to mix your holiday up if you desired. Lucky for me I got to stay in Lazise at the newly refurbished Hotel Bella Lazise, and use their free bikes and cycle all over to explore the larger areas on my way to Garda. The hotel has had a massive revamp and whilst it was still in it’s opening stages, the fantastic staff and absolutely mesmerising views really made my stay. It was peaceful, and a rare trip I found myself being fully able to relax. It was so good to come on holiday and have facilities like this I could utilise for free, along with a gorgeous outdoor and indoor pool. I took full advantage of having a bike free to use so traveled to Garda, but passed through Cisano & Bardolino on my quest to find some Italian coffee! It was fantastic to see so many other people on bikes, or running or walking and generally being active.
Thomson Excursions – Wine Tasting & finding the olives
After returning my bike to the hotel, (post climbing a hill to get there!) I decided I’d earned myself some brownie points and so the obvious option was to indulge in wine-tasting! After all there were some of the best vineyards in this area, and I was already partial to Lugana wine after sampling some on arrival. I went on the Tour dei Vini excursion (you can book in advance or with your Thomson resort manager on arrival) to Cantina ‘Cascina Capuzza’ at San Martino della Battaglia for wine-tasting. It was on a coach tour and I was collected at the bus stop about 5 minutes away from my hotel. The wine-tasting was hosted right in the a vineyards themselves, and unlike other wine tours I have been on, you got a decent amount of wine to try! The guide was very informative and really showed the passion these Italians have for their local wines. Post wine-tasting we travelled on to the ‘Turri’ olive oil factory, where we would soon be surrounded my next favourite thing olives! An exciting, not to mention interesting afternoon and one I would highly recommend.
Thermal Spa – Tranquility and Luxury indulgence
The day after was possibly my most favourite for a variety of reasons. One of which was because I was about to visit a thermal spa at Parco Termale Villa dei Cedri at Cola’. I had never been to a place like this, so as you can imagine I was extremely excited. I initially zipped through the grounds on a guided tour of the property by golf cart, I saw all of the facilities available in this stunning setting and then joined my group for a classic Italian aperitif, Aspertzol spritz, followed by a light lunch from Terme di Cola’. Once we had our lunch outside around the lakes, we got a chance to enjoy the afternoon in these beautiful green surroundings. Now normally when I get into a lake I am fully equipped with a wetsuit and it is normally rather chilly, this was the complete opposite to any other lake experience, it was warm! I dipped my feet in initially and I couldn’t believe how much it felt like a bath. Apparently the lakes having healing abilities which is due to the minerals, whether it was true or not I came away after feeling re-centred and thoroughly relaxed! I couldn’t recommend this place more.
Bardolino – A night at the Opera and sampling the cocktails
Originally we were due to cycle to Bardolino, which to me justified the Pizza we were due to eat, (at Pizzeria Ristorante Catullo which faced the port in Bardolino) but we didn’t, instead we got a short taxi there. I’d already cycled through this place in the day and loved it then, so I couldn’t wait to check it out in the evening. The place was energised and full of happy people enjoying these amazing bars, great food and stunning scenery. We stopped off for a light refreshments pre dinner, at La Loggia Rambaldi bar and restaurant. Of course this is Italy and we were showered with copious amounts of food! I had to resist temptation and only have nibbles as we were due to go for an Italian classic, a pizza! I decided to have one of my favourite drinks a hugo, (elderflower cordial and prosecco) at one of the local buzzing bars. We soon headed off for some classic Italian pizzas on the lake front, before going to one of the Italian Opera Concerts. A very low key and quaint concert set in this stunning building, not something I’d of gone to but my gosh it was a beautiful way to end my trip.
Verona – More Gelato and Juliet’s Balcony
I always hate going home but the fact I was doing the journey to the airport via a morning in Verona, definitely helped the last a day holiday blues. Only 40 minute drive to Verona from Lazise, I was really excited to check out this beautiful city. Kicking things off in Verona we took a guided walking tour to some of the hot spots. As you can probably imagine it was ridiculously busy, but it didn’t matter because there was so much to see and do. Of course the most exciting part was visiting Juliet’s balcony… And having a tasty bit of gelato in the form of frozen yogurt. You can’t beat it, so of course I had to have one!
Good food? Good wine? Good weather? Exceptional views? The Lakes cannot be faulted. Lake Garda was even more perfect for me, than when I went to Lake Maggiore and Lake Como – and I loved those! I found so much more to do on this trip and I was always like to be active in someway… Which of course totally justified all those extravagant meals and large glasses of vino! Regardless I’d encourage you to take a look at the long list of excursions that Thomson put on for holidaymakers – they really do make your vacation. Lake Garda I will be coming back to see you soon!