Bardolino, a perennially favoured holiday destination, is sited between two small headlands, in a gently curving bay on the eastern shore of the lake.
Bardolino is accessible by public transport; either by ferry or by the bus service that runs between Riva del Garda and Verona (stopping points include Torbole, Malcesine, Torri del Benaco, Garda, Lazise and Peschiera). The tourist information office is conveniently adjacent to the bus station.
The Old Town
Bardolino seems to welcome you with open arms as you step off the ferry and cross the promenade into Piazza Matteotti, the beating heart of the old town. This elongated, café lined piazza is watched over by the Church of San Nicolò and San Severo (the parish church). Built between 1830 and 1844, its outstanding feature is an imposing porch with four Corinthian columns.
But arguably the most important religious building in the old town is San Severo, a Romanesque church, sited on the edge of the old town near to the main road (via Marconi). It was founded at the end of the 9th century, and then rebuilt in the 12th. There are 12th -13th century frescos and the remains of a 10th century crypt. Close by, another old church has been converted into an atmospheric, intimate concert venue.
San Zeno, another early medieval church, is located on the other side of the main road. Its 9th century Carolingian cross structure remains, as do some original frescos.
Around the historic centre are remnants of old fortifications, constructed by the Scaliger lords of Verona, whose rule was ended by the Venetians.
Although most of the shops in the old town inevitably target the tourist, they are interspersed with boutiques selling quality merchandise. During the summer months stores may be open until 11pm.
Flat, well maintained walking and cycling paths continue from the promenade to Garda, Cisano and Lazise.
The 3.2km walk to Garda is extremely popular, particularly on sunny Sundays and public holidays. The wide path is slightly set back from the lake, behind bathing areas, and numerous cafes, bars and restaurants. Frequent benches provide opportunities to relax and enjoy views across the lake.
Lazise lies about 5km in the opposite direction to Garda.If this seems daunting you can call an early halt at Cisano. Dominating Piazzetta Chiesa is Pieve di Santa Maria, a church with a Romanesque façade. The Museo dell ’olio, reputedly Italy’s first olive oil museum, is open 9.00 – 12.30 and 2.30 – 7.00 (Sunday afternoons excepted, and check if visiting in winter). You can find it a short distance outside Cisano, on the via Peschiera. Admission is free.
The path to Lazise hugs the edge of the lake, passing reed beds – wildlife havens that attract patient photographers with expensive looking kit. In stark contrast to the reed beds is the sterile stretch of shoreline by a camping area, which is separated from the path by a 2m high wire fence, adorned with prominent notices forbidding access to the unauthorised.
But you are quickly past this, and not far away beautiful Lazise beckons.
Bardolino and its wine
Bardolino is internationally renowned for the wine bearing its name, and to be sure sitting in a lakeside café, quietly sipping wine in an authentic setting, is one of life’s pleasures. But why not take the opportunity to delve deeper into the mysteries of viticulture and wine making.
You could opt for a Bardolino Wine Route excursion that takes in local vineyards, or perhaps visit the Zeni Vineyard’s wine museum. Its opening hours are 9.00 – 1.00 and 2.30 – 7.00, Monday to Sunday 18/03 – 13/10 (free admission). You must contact the museum for its winter opening times.
But best of all, if you can, visit Bardolino during the first week in October when the Wine Festival celebrates the new harvest.
For the more active and thrill seekers
Choose from: tennis, hiking or Nordic walking in the surrounding hills, mountain bike trails and various water sports.
Bardolino offers an easy blend of vibrancy and tranquillity, of relaxation and activity – all in a beautiful setting. I can understand why it continues to attract repeat visitors.