For years Lake Garda has been on our “living list” so this year we decided to do the European camping holiday thing again – but fly-drive this time and head to Italy.
After much deliberation we decided on a twin centre holiday with Lake Garda and Tuscany. This blog just covers our first week (see Tuscany blog).
Having previously camped with Canvas Holidays we opted for them again – by booking early we got an early booking discount as well as a returning customer discount which saved us a couple of hundred pound and a great incentive for rebooking.
We did the research on sites but ultimately at the Lake it came down to being walkable to the beach/lake and also walking distance to towns so we can leave the car when we want. We finally settled on Camping Cisano San Vito which is situated between the two lovely towns of Lazise and Bardolino on the eastern side of Lake Garda. This site didn’t have the huge fancy pools some of the other sites offer but this wasn’t a priority.
After booking this our friend decided to join us for the first week of our holiday along with her 2 kiddies who get on great with our crew too – so we knew them having buddies was going to be great fun. We have never holidayed with friends (apart from the ski-trip) so it was going to be new to us but I can tell you now it was brilliant (so much so we are doing it again in 2018).
So flights and car booked we set about planning our days. We had plans to visit Verona and see the Romeo & Juliet Balcony, maybe Venice if we wanted to venture further afield, boat trips, Lake side towns the lot. More on that later but suffice to say thankfully flexibility is my middle name and I don’t stress when things don’t go to plan
We arrived picked up the cars and then headed to the our campsite. We had tired and hungry kiddies so we literally dumped the cars at our mobile homes and hot footed it over to the campsite restaurant. Pizza, pasta and our first taste of Vino Rosato and we were done – our hungry kiddies were now just tired kiddies so we called it a night with our exploring days ahead of us. Little did we know this would be a no, no!
So what happened, you may ask, well temperatures in excess of 35 degrees happened. We arrived slap bang in the middle of Italy’s heatwave. It was sooooooooooooooooo hot. I have been to the desert, been in the middle of Australia in the summer and this was as a hot I have ever experienced so plans abandoned we sat in and by the Lake – A LOT!!!!! But this was just bliss.
We did venture out a little but not to any big cities – that would have been too much for us never mind having to listen to hot kiddies. (Might have to plan a grown up weekend away for this). So below are some of our days out.
One day we headed to Bardolino (a couple of kms away) – we decided to walk but it was a little further than expected and with two 6 and 7 year olds this doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience. They started in sun dresses and ended up just strolling down the promenade in their bikinis. I wish I had been able had that couldn’t care less attitude a young child does. I must say the walk alongside the lake is just brilliant – a proper path and easy for walking, scooting, cycling (the later we wish we had done as the girls would have been a lot more comfortable.
Bardolino was just lovely, we stopped for the obligatory Aperol Spritz at a harbourside bar/café (definitely not the first and last on this holiday and my new favourite drink) and the kids decided lunch wasn’t needed but mahoosive ice cream sundaes were the order of the day and we couldn’t blame them. We just enjoyed the view (and the water spraying fan) and decided between us adults there was no way on earth we were walking back.
We went to Bardolino again, at night for dinner, but took the bus this time and once again just loved this pretty little lakeside town, great little shops, water lapping against the shore, twinkly lights it gave me the feeling that I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
Another day we went to the waterpark Caneva World and it was brilliant and because there was water and we stayed relatively cool. The little ones and the big ones loved it – we expected a couple of hours fun but spent the best part of the day there. There were plenty of areas for getting out of the sun, the slides were great and there were enough for all ages. Would definitely recommend it. There was a theme park next door but I cannot see in heat that it would be as appealing but on a cooler day I am sure it is fab fun.
One day we did manage a trip out in the car and decided on Sirmione on the southern tip of the lake. It is stunning and famous for the castle that overlooks the lake and thermal baths (not needed). We quickly found a restaurant for a spot of lunch and to escape the heat, we also met up with some other UK friends but for some reason opted to sit outside (what were we thinking when air-con was available – it really was that hot). Anyways, hot food inside us and hot sun outside us we decided that there was nothing else but another dip in the lake required.
Now I am sure that there was a closer beach than Jamaica Beach but we probably opted for the one furthest from the town (I don’t think we knew at this stage). The girls decided we had to take the little train to take us down there – the boys decided to do the manly thing and walk. Oh boy I think they regretted that. We were down in the water, body temperatures cooled and back to normal and we still couldn’t see them. I went for a wander to locate them and when I eventually found them – Nigel looked as bad as I have ever seen him. He then had to return to the car to pay for more parking so by the time he got back I thought he may be in serious trouble. Again the lake did its job and was the best medicine. Cooled, refreshed and happy again we just watched the kids play in the rock pools, and bob about the water.
A hot walk back up the side of the caves and back on the little train it was time for Gelato. To be honest all times of the day are time for Gelato and nobody ever complains about this. We then ambled the streets in and out of little shops and then decided it was time for home. Now I may be talking a bit about the weather but when you get back to the car and it is 43 degrees you realise that it is no surprise you are completely wiped out.
It was not what we expected, but when we heard a storm brewing we knew it was going to work wonders. It was the mother of storms and we really thought that the way the wind roared, the clouds took on an eerie form and the water of the lake turned angry that the world was coming to an end. It was truly magnificent.
On the last full day we decided to get some bikes and take a trip left to Lazise, it was just lovely (we hit more rain but this made it even more fun as it was a hot shower). I felt, again like I just didn’t want to be anywhere else. It was sad that this part of the trip was coming to an end.
So in terms of the campsite, it was great, location was fantastic , pools (although not fancy) were good but we preferred the lake (particularly when Nigel hired a pedalo – the kids were in their element), the food was reasonably priced and the campsite restaurant was lovely. There was entertainment pretty much every night down by the beach/lake but we were happy enough drinking wine/Aperol, tucking into snacks, playing cards, watching the kids play in the park next to our mobiles and also entertaining us with their nightly performances of Lake Garda’s Got Talent. You can do as little or as much as you want on the campsite – we opted for the former. But we loved it.
We also loved Lake Garda, we loved Bardolino, we loved the wine, the food, the company, the laughter and made some great memories. What we didn’t love was saying bye to our friends as they headed back to Manchester and we headed down to Tuscany. We had the best week with them and whilst we had in our heads planned a road trip in the UK for 2018, by the time the next week was over we knew this would change and were planning on asking them to come along on our next summer holiday.
Lake Garda did not disappoint and we only scratched the surface so it is great we have a reason to return.
Ciao for now Lake Garda xx