top of page

Lake Garda up to Neuschwanstein Castle

From Valeggio sul Mincio to Austria and Germany by motorbike: a journey to discover Lake Garda and the castles that inspired Disney.

Premise: we fell madly in love with Lake Garda.. lucky those who live there!

Lake Garda on the Veneto side

Mantova, Valeggio sul Mincio, Peschiera, Garda, Towers of Benaco

Under the scorching sun of August, we leave from Riccione and, following the highway, we arrive in Mantua. The city opens up before us and is reflected in the river Mincio: it is beautiful to cross the bridge to enter the historical center. A few kilometers further north is Valeggio sul Mincio, which with its Borghetto is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. it is a small medieval village which has remained intact over the centuries and built in harmony with the river and nature. A truly romantic place with the gentle waterfall on the river, the low houses, the restaurants and the ancient Ponte Visconteo and the Scaliger Castle which form the backdrop. Also in Valeggio is the Parco Giardino Sigurtà, the most beautiful park in Italy and second in Europe. We went there years ago during the spring to see the tulips in bloom and it was magnificent.

We continue the road going up the Mincio towards the lake and we arrive in Peschiera del Garda, which has a particular shape thanks to the fortress which protected the city for centuries and which today is part of the Unesco heritage. Peschiera has a historic center, perfect for resting and eating something. We continue towards Garda where we have booked the B&B, in the middle of the olive trees managed by a couple of very kind guys and we ask them to recommend a nice place to watch the sunset. Thus we discover the panoramic terrace in front of the Church of San Martino on the mountain behind Torri del Benaco; we sit on the bench and enjoy the sunset over the lake with a beer and a pack of crisps, next door a German couple does the same with a bottle of wine.

The next day we take it to swim in the lake. Let's go to the San Vigilio Park where there is a paid beach (just before in hindsight there is the free one), the beautiful villa of the same name and the small port with vine shoots and a characteristic little restaurant. More than a few hours in the sun, Fabio can't stand it, eager to get back on the bike. So we follow the lake road towards Malcesine, we stop and see Torri del Benaco and dive from the pier on another beach. In the evening we go to dinner in Garda and take a walk along the lakefront like the elderly.

Lake Garda on the Lombard side

Sirmione, Desenzano, Gardone and the Vittoriale, Campione, Strada della Forra, Limone

The first day we return to Peschiera and continue towards the most famous destination: Sirmione.

Being on a motorbike in August is fantastic, it allows us to avoid the kilometric queues of cars and the traffic. Sirmione is located on a 4 km spit of land that extends towards the lake; the entrance to the city is very scenic with the Scaliger castle, the drawbridge, the blue water and the flowers. The ancient village certainly deserves a visit; being a city founded by the Romans you can also visit the archaeological excavations and the Grotte di Catullo. At the tip of the peninsula is also Jamaica Beach.

We leave Sirmione and make a detour to Desenzano: the old port is very suggestive, surrounded by shops and restaurants. We stop to eat at the Gattolardo, which attracts us with its tables in the narrow driveway and proves to be excellent in food.

If you visit Lake Garda, you cannot miss Gabriele D'Annunzio's Vittoriale in Gardone; even though we've been there before, we've been back. Better to book the visit in advance, to be sure of entering the poet's house. This place is one of the Italian marvels and perfectly represents the incomparable life of D'Annunzio: the poet lived here from 1921 until he died in 1938. The interior of the house has remained intact since his death and you can admire oddities and unique items. Telling them is simplistic, just a small spoiler: there were two entrances for welcome and unwelcome guests (including Mussolini), D'Annunzio put on the table when he invited guests the statue of a turtle that died at the Vittoriale from indigestion as a warning for greed (but he didn't eat with guests because he was ashamed of his teeth), his desk where he invented the Rinascente brand and the word "tramezzini" (the first forerunner of marketing). Everything here is symbology and the guide retraces the life of the poet with his particular aptitudes. Outside the villa are the park, the Mausoleum overlooking the lake where he is buried together with other heroes of Fiume, the gigantic ship Puglia, the MAS96 motorboat with D'Annunzio's motto Memento audere semper ("remember to always dare"), the museum on military exploits and the one on clothing, fabrics and the poet's mistresses. It takes time to visit the entire complex and should be enjoyed slowly; in the summer they also organize concerts in the amphitheater.

20 km further north is Campione del Garda, the perfect place for diving and getting confused between windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Another 5 minutes by motorbike and we are at the Strada della Forra - another must for motorcyclists and cyclists - described as one of the most beautiful roads in the world and also featured in the 007 films 'Quantum of Solace'. The road is so called because it crosses the gorge dug by the Brasa torrent; the high rock faces of the gorge have green hues and mix with the waterfall and lush nature. You must continue the road up to Tremosine, stop in the hamlet and look at the lake from the Terrace of the Brivido overhanging the lake at an altitude of 350 meters.

We conclude with the beautiful Limone sul Garda and its terraced lemon groves on the lake. Although it was a famous place for the production of lemons, the name of the city has other historical origins and tradition connects it to its border position, "limen" in fact. Limone is a little gem and even Goethe celebrated its beauty in his writings.

The 'Garda by Byke' spectacular cycle path suspended over the lake at 50 meters above water level also starts from Limone.

Lake Garda on the Trentino side

Riva del Garda, Varone waterfall, Tenno lake

We cross the imaginary border and arrive at the Trentino side of the lake. Riva del Garda has a beautiful beach with comfortable grassy lawns for resting, the historic center is less scenic than the other villages on the lake but still very beautiful.

From Riva we go to visit the Cascata del Varone (€6): it is not a waterfall like the others, this one is inside a very narrow gorge and plunges 98 meters. The noise, the splashes and the lights create an incredibly suggestive environment. The architect who oversaw access to the waterfall for the public is the same as the Vittoriale and here too he did an excellent job.

Just 10km away is the wonderful Lake Tenno with its intense turquoise water, it seems fake! Bathing here is a unique experience, moreover, the lake is small and you can swim to the center or reach the opposite shore. Also worth seeing is the medieval village of Canale di Tenno, an enchanted village with steep alleys included among the most beautiful villages in Italy. For those who want to walk there is a path that connects the village to the lake in 30 minutes and which in the past the inhabitants used to get water. In the summer they also organize a medieval festival in which the village returns to life as in the past.

Passing through Tyrol

Lake Molveno, Bolzano, Brennero, Innsbruck, Mieming

From Tenno begins the real journey by motorbike in the mountains of Adamello Park and along the coast of Lake Molveno. We stop in Bolzano to stretch our legs in the historic center but we are not ready for the infernal heat and we leave again after half an hour. We continue north to the Brenner Pass and arrive in Austria. As soon as we cross the border we discover what happiness means, petrol is very cheap here! We buy the vignette with a few euros to travel on the motorway and we are ready to run before the black clouds grab us. We arrive in Innsbruck and think we have made it; but nothing, it starts to rain and we flee towards Mieming where we have a B&B, a small village lost among the pastures but with an excellent restaurant.

Castles of "Disney"

Fernsteinsee, Zugspitzblick, Fussen, Castle of Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein

The road in the middle of the Alps is perfect for motorbikes. We stop at the Fernsteinsee lake which surrounds a small castle creating a beautiful setting; we try to get our feet wet but the water is frozen.. that's why no one dives. Another stop to admire the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany with 2,962 meters of height.

In less than two hours (we took it easy) we arrived in Fussen and went immediately to the castles. We have booked the visit and if we miss the shift we will no longer have a chance to see it, because all the other times have been booked for days.

We start with Hohenschwangau Castle, the lakeside summer residence of King Maximilian, where Ludwig II spent his youth and watched the construction work on Neuschwanstein Castle. Here the daily habits of the royal family come to life with perfectly preserved original furnishings and furniture.

After the visit, we walk into the woods and already breathe in a fairy-tale atmosphere. The medieval castle of Neuschwanstein is the most famous historic building in Germany, the "castle of fairy tales and perfection" built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria with the best techniques of the time. The project was very daring and complex due to the mountain location, but the king imposed a fast pace and 7 completed the first floor. Over 200 masons worked on the construction until 1984. Unfortunately, Ludwig II was able to enjoy the castle for a few years, in 1986 he was declared insane by the State Council (without even a medical examination), he was imprisoned and soon drowned, at only 41 years old, in circumstances never fully clarified since he is a skilled swimmer.

In the castle one notices Ludwig's reluctance to any human contact and the limitation he suffered starting from 1866 when he was deprived of the full exercise of his functions. For example, the guest rooms were eliminated from the project and the modest "Audience Room" was transformed into a huge Throne Hall as a tribute to royalty and a copy of the legendary hall of the Holy Grail.

Leaving the castle, we walk in the woods and go to see the castle from the Marienbrücke bridge, which overlooks the Pöllatschlucht gorge. This bridge was built by Maximilian II as a gift to his wife Maria, a lover of hiking in the mountains.

Val Pusteria, Cadore and return

Lake Brais, Lake Dobbiaco, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Dam of Vajont, Cave Azzurra, Asolo, Comacchio.

Our journey had to continue along other castles of the Romantikstraße, but adverse weather conditions (and our lack of preparation for the storms) made us change the route. With the motorbike we go back to Innsbruck which we finally manage to visit: the center is really nice and we love the places in the square where they serve typical products and good beer.

We spend the night in the Alps, dodging a storm for 5 minutes. Another round of beers and a good sleep is what we need. The next day we ride through Val Pusteria and stop at the magnificent Lake Brais, we continue towards Dobbiaco and the road runs alongside the lake of the same name and other stupendous lakes where we stop to take pictures. The view here is incredible and we also see the Tre Cime Lavaredo. We stop in Cortina d'Ampezzo for a stroll in the center and a break at the bar with a strudel (I'm addicted, fabio lo lo schifa..opposites attract).

We go down to the valley and pass along the Cadore villages and stop at the Vajont Dam, an important place of memory.

The dam was built between 1957 and 1960 and the Vajont disaster occurred on the evening of 9 October 1963. A landslide fell from the slope of Monte Toc into the waters of the basin and the displacement of the contained water first involved Erto and Casso, villages close to the shore of the lake after the construction of the dam, then the wave generated exceeded the dam and caused the flooding and destruction of the villages in the valley floor, including Longarone. 1,917 people died, including 487 children. We remember the elderly Venetians who said that for days the bodies of those poor people had been found miles away in the Piave. Here are the memories of the very few survivors, those who were away on business or as a family in Casso whose father had never trusted the construction of the dam and who as soon as he felt the ground vibrate had made the family run up the mountain saving her by a miracle, in fact in a few minutes the wave had swallowed her house. This place gives strong emotions and for days the pain of that useless tragedy remains in the mind.

From Casso you can clearly see the split mountain where it collapsed and the debris that invaded the former basin.

Itinerary in map

Click here to see the map and using during the trip:



Do you want some advice?

We will be happy to help you 😉

bottom of page