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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Desenzano

Desenzano Holidays

This handsomely sunny town on Lake Garda's southern shore appeals thanks to its slow paced lifestyle, cafe culture and lazy days on the water. See how Italy's countryside shines in this cheerful community.

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Lake Garda's southern brilliance

Desenzano, often known as Desenzano del Garda, has its roots in the olden days as much as any other chic Italian destination you'd care to mention. Yet what sets this place apart, even among its fellow lake-hugging communities, is so much more than its superb castle, colourful little streets or appealing coffee house culture. It's the days on the lake, the smiles of the locals and the smell of fresh pastries wondering out of the morning bakeries.

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Italian
  • GMT + 1

Love the legacy

With hallmarks of the Roman Empire continuing to make Desenzano a go-to destination for history lovers today, this town has plenty of culture on offer. Roll back the more recent centuries and you'll find that this town was something of a prize, changing hands among the various powers of pre-unification Italy and spending plenty of time in the hands of the Venetian Empire - whose touches can still be admired in the architecture.

One point of interest every visitor ought to keep in mind during their Italy holiday, is the Castello. The castle towers above the town proudly, with its square ramparts cradling the immaculately preserved central tower. When illuminated at night, it's a fine sight indeed, but don't be shy in taking a tour of the grounds themselves in the daylight and getting some photographs from atop the walls, with the town and the lake sprawling out beneath you.

Elsewhere, the local museum of archaeology pays homage to ages past, with ancient ploughing equipment and information on mosaics unearthed in nearby villa ruins hailing from Roman times. Check out Malvezzi Square by the harbour too, not just for its buzzing cafe culture, but because it's the heart around which Desenzano grew.

Effortless entertainment

With winding streets, waterfront strolls and lazy days drifting on the surface of Lake Garda, you would be entirely correct in thinking that Desenzano is a destination where peace and quiet reigns supreme. Yet don't put the notion of excitement aside, as you'll soon learn that this town is where Italian people from far and wide come for fun nights out.

Start your day right with some soft scoop sweetness from Gelateria Aquilone, perhaps best enjoyed while strolling the pebbled beach of Spiaggia via Lario. The town on its promenade above gives the lakeside beach itself an appealing sense of seclusion, and it's a popular spot for couples.

After dark, you'll find the community coming to life. Live music is always popular, with both family run hotspots and more upmarket venues showcasing the latest talent. A quiet pint by the water can be had at somewhere like Cala de Or, or you can take things chic at I Duchi Wine Bar.

Boutiques and bargain hunting

When it's time to put those bargain hunting skills to the test, make a beeline for the main hub of trade in town, known as Mercato Settimanale di Rivoltella. It's here that you'll find plenty of shops, from bargain outlets and local fashion houses, to fine wines and handcrafts. But you'll also find flea markets and street stalls aplenty, with belts and leather goods, together with spices, baskets, hats, scarves, sunglasses and anything else you can imagine.

It goes without saying that a range of delicious, authentic cuisine can be sampled here too.

Enjoying the great outdoors

With Desenzano sitting on the southern shores of Lake Garda, it enjoys a less mountainous landscape than its counterparts further north. That makes strolling the scenery a joy, with bicycle hire and guided tours also proving popular ways to see the sights. Local wineries, or trails that trace the coastline of the lake, each prove popular ways to spend your days beyond the confines of the town.

Desenzano is also well located for ferry services to many other Lake Garda holiday destinations, making it a good base if you're after taking in the wider region in all its glory.