The largest and the most captivating lake situated in Northern Italy, Lake Garda or locally known as Benaco is mesmerizingly beautiful with its crystal clear water encompassed by the long trails of Garda Mountains. The Garda Lake lies halfway between Brescia and Verona and is an extremely popular holiday destination of Italy, most glamorous during Summers as the scenic beauty of Garda is clearly visible. However, it is also very impressive during Winters with its snow-peaked cliffs that look majestic. The dramatic view of Lake Garda is eye soothing and is an ideal place to rejuvenate yourselves.
Lake Garda is often explored through its two banks- The East and the West.
Lake Garda East Bank:
The East Bank of Lake Garda lies on the Veneto region, which is mostly attractive for its Olive groves, the cable cars leading to Monte Baldo-the highest mountain around the lake and of course the romantic view of the calm deep-blue lake. Other popular attractions include the beautiful view of Punta San Vigilio outside the Garda Village, Bardolino- an impressive little town, the picturesque old town of Malcesine, Lazise- a city of fortifications, towers and ancient gates, Torri Del Benaco- known for its beautiful resorts and lake view, Pescheiradel Garda– the only outlet of Lake Garda, Torbole– with an amazing view of Monte Brione that separates it from Rivadel Garda and lastly the crowded city of Brenzone.
Lake Garda West Bank:
The West Bank of Lake Garda is dominated by mountain ranges and is considered to be more fascinating for its historic towns, majestic villas, beautiful gardens along with the best views of the lake. The West Bank consists of places like Sirmione– a town renowned for its forts and dramatic view of the lake, Rivadel Garda– also called the “jewel of Lake Garda” for its romantic views and exquisite resorts, Limone Sul Garda– popular for its hiking trails, dolomites, fortresses and scenic beauty, the pretty little town of Salo, the peninsula of Isoladi Garda, the enchanting panorama of Gardone Riviera along with its pretty botanical gardens and lastly Toscolano Maderno that would take you back to ancient Roman days.
Lake Garda has hiking opportunities for the people who crave for adventure, and is especially for people who love to feel the beauty of nature intimately. However, Lake Garda is very photogenic with a natural deep blue background encompassed with greyish-blue cliffs so don’t forget to carry your cameras and vibrant dresses to take instagram worthy shots.
The mesmerizing town of Frascati sits on the Alban Hills and is one of the hill top towns that are collectively known as Castelli Romani. The name Frascati has derived from the local tradition of collecting firewood (frasche) and is popular for its ancient Roman architectures, its charming historic centre, white wines, impressive villas and the attractive scenery of the hills that embrace the town.
How to reach Frascati from Rome?
Frascati is just 35 kms away from Rome situated towards the south east of the capital and takes less than 30 mins to reach. One can take the Cotral Buses from Roma Anagnina that drops at Piazza Guglielmo Marconi just outside the historic square. One can also opt for trains that depart hourly from the Roma Termini.
Interesting sites to explore:
Explore the villas of the town that are popular among tourists, the town’s only cathedral and visit its finest vineyards for a glass of authentic White Wine- Santa Passera.
The most renowned Roman architecture of the town is Villa Aldobrandini which is still owned by the Aldobrandini family (so, some of its parts are not open to the public). Within the villa lies the Roman Theatre of Waters- an overbearing baroque stage built in the gardens and the impressive Atlas Foutain. Aldobrandini not only has architectural beauty, but also gives a panoramic view of the town overlooking the Laziocity.
Situated a few steps away from the historic center lies the communal (always open to public) villa of Torlonia that has suffered the damage of bombing. Built during the mid 16th century, this stunning villa comprises of attractive gardens with ancient statues, featuristic fountains, and the famous theatre of waters- Theatrodelle Acque.
Cathedral of Saint Peter
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Peter also known as the Frascati Cathedral is definitely a must visit as this church is among the most popular attractions of Frascati. Standing on the main town sqaure, this beautiful church has its own interesting history along with an artistic interior and exterior.
Vineyards of Minardi and Merumalia
The Frascati Wine also known as “the Golden Wines of the Romans” were traditionally made by the Ancient Romans. Now, in the Modern era, these finest wines are made in the wineries run by the families who are holding on to their tradition for generations. The Frascati Wines are labeled DOCG (the label for origin and finest taste) and are made with varieties of grapes such as Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio, Grechetto, Bombinobianco and Trabbiano Grapes. Visit the two most popular wineries- Minardi and Merumalia for a one of a kind experience and have a glass of the finest Frascati Wine along with mouthwatering handmade Italian Pastas and Pizzas.
Cinque Terre meaning “the five lands” is a string of five villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) situated on the Costa Ligure of Levante. The sea-side villages on the rugged Riveria coastline has become a favourite off beat attraction among the tourists recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is often compared with the Capri Islands and Amalfi Coast of Italy. People generally choose to visit Cinque Terre for its exceptional scenic beauty, and mostly for its closeness to nature. With vibrant streets and colourful houses, beautiful rocky beaches and amazing views, Cinque Terre is an ideal destination to feel the nature intimately and refresh your minds.
The villages of Cinque Terre:
Monterosso al Mare
Beginning from the north, Monterosso al mare is the biggest and the oldest of five villages in Cinque Terre that is commune to the province of LaSpezia. Not only is this vibrant town is a paradise for the lovers of sea, but also has so many impressive attractions to explore. The ViaFegina Beach being the biggest one of the region is a favourite attraction of the tourists, once you be here don’t forget to spot the gigantic statue of Neptune (theseaGod) carrying a gigantic shell which was majorly damaged during the WWII. The other interesting sites include the Church of San Lorenzo, the Manarola Harbour, the impressive Parco Nazionale, the shrines and famous wooden stautes of Santuariodi Nostra and Signoradi Soviore, and lastly the elegant building of Church of San Giovani Battista.
Vernazza often called the “pearl of Cinque Terre” is regarded as the most beautiful among the five villages. Vernazza embraces its small marina by the roads that stretch offshore and the eye-catching pastel coloured houses making it more impressive. One must note that Vernazza is not as big as Montoresso and has a very small number of houses and inhabitants. Vernazza is also the only town in the region that has a natural harbour, along with mesmerizing views from the top. The major attractions of the town includes- the Church of Fratti, the Reformed Friars Minor of St. Francis, and the beautiful shrine of Reggio.
Corniglia is the smallest of five towns in Cinque Terre as the population is about 150 and can be covered from Vernazza by a walking distance. The small town sits on a panaromic cliff top, and hence is not directly adjacent to the sea. The walk from Vernazza to Corniglia is enticing as the journey would make you fall in love with this place more. Well, this little place has quite a few things to explore- the Church of St. Peter’s, Saint Mary’s Terrace, the popular Guavo Beach, and the beach near the railway station of Corniglia-Spiaggione Beach.
Another picturesque town of Cinque Terre, Manarola is the second smallest village of the region with equally beautiful views of the sea. The village is situated 70 metres above the sea level and is also popular for its SiacchetraWine. Also visit the famous relic architectures- SanLorenzoChurch, ManarolaCemetry, andManarola’sHarbour.
The last village of Cinque Terre (if visited from North), Riomaggiore is all about pastel-coloured houses, the sound of strong waves striking the cliffs, picturesque views, wines and the beach. Wander around the beautiful streets and visit the old castle- Castellodi Riomaggiore.
Porto Venere the sixth town
A medieval fishing town situated at the South, Porto Venere is believed to be the hidden gem that is overshadowed by Cinque Terre. Being neighbour to the five villages, Porto Venere is often called the “sixth town”and has equally attractive scenary. Some of the tourists choose to stay in Porto Venere and cover the five villages as day tours which is also a smart choice however, it is impossible to reach here by trains so ferry is the only choice. Explore the old town and visit Portadel Borgo, the Capitolare Tower dating back to 12thcentury. Also the Doria castle situated on the cliff top overlooking the Bay of Poets, the nearby Church of San Lorenzo and the Church of Saint Peter with an exceptional interior. The other attractions include Lord Byron’s Grotto named after the renouned English Poet- a place for swimming and diving, and the Porto Venere regional National Park.
The Beaches of Cinque Terre
The beaches of Cinque Terre are stunning and the best one is in Monterossoalmare. With crowds of happy faces enjoying the sun bath, crystal clear sea and its turquoise waves, delicious sea food in the nearby restaurants along with sweetest wines of the region, all these comprise to make Cinque Terre an ideal destination for Summer holidays.
For people who love hiking, Cinque Terre has an abundant availability of hiking trails joining one village with the other. The walk from the Blue Path– the trail that connects all the five villages is tiring but surely is worth as the view around it is magical. Take the help of local guides to discover hiking opportunities and admire the view that you would never forget from the top.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre?
It is best and convenient to stay in a single village of Cinque Terre and visit others as day trips. The largest number of hotels are in Montoressoalmare, as it is the biggest area of the region however, one must not expect luxury here as the hotels are as simple as the place itself. Some tourists also choose to stay in Riomaggiore when they are beginning the journey from the South, whereas others cover the five villages by staying in LaSpezia (10 mins away by train) or Porto Venere (also known as the sixth town as it is often covered with Cinque Terre).
Tuscany, the region in central Italy and Florence, its capital is home to breathtaking panoramas of vineyards spread across miles and miles of land along with its rustic Wineries that make authentic wines and reveal their age-old tales of the art of wine-making. Tuscany is a perfect stop for a day trip from Florence as it not only has scenic beauty but also is also is renowned for its Renaissance architectures and is home to the world-famous Italian poet Dante. The intoxicating air of Tuscany is going to uplift your spirits and you would savour the taste of purest brands of wine with DOCG labels (the label given by the Italian Government that guarantees its origin and is of finest quality).
Places of interest:
Tuscany has some of the finest vineyards where you can witness grapes taking their leisure time ripen and then being handpicked by the crafty wine makers to finally convert them into purest form of wine. However, wine of each region varies as they use different varieties of grapes to make their finest wine such as San Gimignano uses Vernaccia grapes and Chianti uses Sangiovese grapes whereas Siena uses Brunello grapes.
The medieval town of San Gimignano is renowned as the “town offine towers”, and reflects its history assosciated with the age of Renaissance. Explore the beautiful vineyards of Vernaccia grapes and taste the authentic White Wine labeled DOCG, which is only here. The age-old Tenuta Torciano Winery is the most popular one in the region so make sure you don’t miss it. Well, don’t leave the town unless you have visited the stunning Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta and witnessed the breathtaking frescoes.
The town of Siena is known for its Brunellodi Montalcino Wine available in the Montalcino region made from the finest Brunello grapes that result in its authentic, rich taste. Also this wine is the most expensive one in the region of Tuscany. Apart from visiting the vineyards, one can also visit the nearby olive orchards of Montalcino that are equally popular among tourists.
A perfect place to pair your red wine with delicious pasta, Chianti is a very popular region of Tuscany especially for its major wineries and renowned Sangiovese vineyards. The best wine tastings in Chianti are available in the classico area which follows the winery of Viticcio, the vineyards of Monteriggioni and Montepulciano.