On my first visit to Desenzano, I didn’t know it was on Lake Garda because I never saw the lake. A group of us had been traveling for several days for a factory tour in Germany, a three day meeting and another factory tour near Venice and now we had one more visit the following day. So a nice dinner, a couple of glasses of red wine and a comfy bed were pretty much all I was thinking about. Lake, what lake?
But I’ve made up for that lapse- Desenzano del Garda as it’s officially known, is on the southern end of Lake Garda in the province of Brescia in Lombardy and is a very popular European holiday destination. Aside from Italian tourists, many visit from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and German is a common second language. It’s not a common American destination, but it should be.
Cafés open onto the piazza as well as line the street along the waterfront. Desenzano is a transport hub for land (Milan to Venice train route) and water. Ferries arrive and depart from the harbor and travel to a number of other resort towns around the lake. On a late Sunday afternoon, you don’t want to miss the passegiata, or afternoon walk, of couples, young families with grandma dressed in black following behind, young families with chic grandma, stylish women walking on the cobblestones while balancing on stilettos wearing tight jeans and smiling men in open necked shirts following the stylish women wearing tight jeans. Get a glass of prosecco at one of the outdoor cafés and enjoy the people watching.
The tourist office is centrally located on Via Porto Vecchio as well as Hotels Promotion with a very pleasant English speaking staff. A lovely in-town hotel is the Park Hotel but if you’d like your home base outside of town to easily explore the Lake Garda region, Residence San Rocco is located about 12 minutes away in Soiano del Lago.
Easy to walk around on foot with many pedestrian only areas, Desenzano has wonderful shopping and terrific restaurants and cafes. Walk up Via Castello and you’ll find De Corte Pozzi, a restaurant, enoteca & cantina with a lovely courtyard, serving a menu of local dishes and wines from nearby vineyards.
Or Osteria Saporedi Vino (no website) on Via Roma with it’s cozy stone-walled upstairs dining room with wonderful service and excellent food.
Take a walk up the winding streets to visit the remains of Desanzano castle and to see the beautiful vistas of the lake below.
Tuesday is market day and the market seems to go forever along the lake and has everything from clothing and pots and pans to local produce and cheeses.
Easy to get to, delightful people, lots to see, terrific restaurants and fabulous wine – that’s why I keep going back to Desenzano.