Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE LARGEST of Italian lakes, Lago di Garda is about 1 1/2 hours east of Milan, just past Brescia (of Mille Miglia fame). The lake has an irregular hatchet shape, surrounded by rolling farm country in the south, wedged between mountains of more than 7000 ft. in the north.


Satellite view of a beautiful part of the world. Lago di Garda is at right. See for a virtual visit to Lago di Como, center.

The eastern shore of the Garda is placid; the western shore, a touristy drive with several celebrations of speed—just the thing for auto enthusiasts.

In the 1920s, roads around the lake were used for the Garda Grand Prix. It was here in 1921 that Tazio Nuvolari ( entered his first automotive race. He scored his first victory of international stature six years later at the same venue.

During the heyday of Schneider Trophy seaplane racing, in the 1920s and 1930s, the lake was a frequent test venue. Desenzano, near its southern extremity, has a memorial to these aviators.


This statue in Desenzano celebrates Schneider Trophy aviators. It was installed in 1966.

About a third of the way up the western shore is Gardone-Riviera, home of Gabriele d’Annunzio (1863-1938, His villa, Il Vittoriale, is crammed full of memorabilia, much of it reflecting this poet’s fascination with speed—not to say with the general high life. (See


Gabriele D’Annunzio’s villa is now officially Il Vittoriale degli Italiani. It’s in Gardone-Riviera.

It has been observed that D’Annunzio’s villa in the 1930s made the goings-on at Caroline’s Villa d’Este look tame. For confirmation of this, check out the performance art/stage play Tamara (


Great driving roads abound in northern Italy; spectacular scenery too.

As the mountains get increasingly serious, the trip hugging Garda’s western shore turns into corniche motoring, a succession of 56 bridges and 70 tunnels.


The road to Riva is a succession of tunnels and bridges.


In guidebooks published prior to 1918, the northern portion of Garda was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the lake’s northern tip lies Riva di Garda. By the way, this isn’t where Riva speedboats are built; their home is in Sarnico, on Lago d’Iseo.

Maybe you’ve been to Lago d’Iseo? It’s on my list. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

One comment on “LAGO DI GARDA

  1. jlalbrecht64
    June 12, 2017

    In a previous life segment I did a lot of climbing. I went to Arco (4 km north of Riva del Garda) 2-4 times a year for about 10 years. Beautiful lake and surrounding area and towns. And yet today I learned something new about it. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on May 8, 2013 by in Just Trippin' and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: