It’s common knowledge that Italy oozes style, hell if you google the definition of style it’s probably written in Italian! The cities of Rome and Milan are strongholds of European fashion, where immaculately groomed residents gently wrap perfectly manicured fingers around slim stemmed glasses filled with prosecco. Those that know their Versace from their Galliano though, probably holiday in the Gardone Riviera.
Italian Style in Gardone Riviera
The shores of Lake Garda are dotted with dozens of small towns, old towns that have stood the test of time, stylish, classic buildings housing chic restaurants, bars, boutiques and coffee houses.
Moored yachts, lake cruisers and classic, sleek wooden built speed boats sit out the worst of the weather in the numerous marinas, usually several for each town.
“In the Gardone Riviera, everything seems to be about the lake, and the lake is everything.”
Lake Garda is the recreation hub for the people and locals of the region, every day there appears to be a small fleet of sailing craft, the sleek racing lines of super yachts jig and tack their way around the lake. Made to race, their owners, skippers and crews eager to test themselves against their peers and their craft organise regattas like the Centomiglia, a one-hundred-mile race around the lake.
Read more about the regatta here: Postcards from the Regatta; Centomiglia, Lake Garda
Recreational users cruise the length of the lake in motorised boats or possibly one of those almost unbelievably beautiful Italian speed boats. Dressed to impress and sipping classy white wines, they’ll stop for a pasta lunch and a spot of retail therapy in the boutiques of Garda, Brenzone and Salò.
Spend time on the lake and it’s easy to understand why it’s a central part of the Gardone Riviera community. Surrounded by high mountains the clear waters lap against the shores and grounds of grand old buildings like Mussolini’s Palace, modern villas and pretty stone harbours of the towns.
The sky is usually deep blue, marbled with streaky clouds, but the water sports brigade provide a colourful palette even here. Dozens of vibrant kites tow surfers often far from the shore, while windsurfers ride the waves of passing boats.
Quayside to cobbles
Classic sports cars and suburban all-terrain vehicles cruise the narrow roads, along with scooters and larger motor bikes and the occasional Fiat 500! Even when heading to work, there seems little reason to rush, unless heading out to pick up a case of wine from the cellar doors of the stylish wineries of the Valtenesi Agritourism Cooperative.
“A classic car rally like this seems very Italian, it had panache, typical of the Gardone Riviera”
After enjoying the Centomiglia regatta on the lake, I was pleasantly surprised to see a classic car rally on the roads of the region. This is why I soon found myself laying in the middle of the road, grabbing shots of these well-loved, well maintained cars speeding by.
Discover slow paced travel in Italy: Autumn Surprises in Molise, Italy
It was a pleasant contrast, the futuristic, sleek lines of the racing yachts one day, compared to the colourful and more subtle, classic lines of the not quite vintage cars. They weren’t all sports cars either, I saw an original Volkswagen beetle and a black car which looked like a police vehicle from the Keystone cops.
Sailboats, speed boats and sports cars, Italian thoroughbreds of water and tarmac, just add prosecco and Versace, manicure optional.