Magazyn Wine and You

Magazyn Wine And You

Nr 3-4/2016 czerwiec

Magazyn Wine And You - Nr 3-4/2016 - czerwiec

Bardolino

– a short guide

Northern Italy is the most diverse part of the country: ancient towns, modern metropolises, the Mediterranean and Adriatic coasts, high mountains and picturesque lakes. Everybody will find there something enjoyable at any time of the year. This geographical and cultural richness, coupled with fine food and wine, make it an ideal setting for the dolce vita of our dreams, even if just for a short time.

Bardolino is located on the east shore of Lake Garda, about 30 km north of Verona. Archaeological excavations have shown that the town’s history goes back to the Roman times at least. In modern history, it was the scene of numerous wars, marine battles and raids. Passing from hands to hands, in 1866 the town was finally incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy. The town’s design blueprint, with streets running perpendicular to the waterfront is typical of fishing villages – this comb-like arrangement of streets facilitated transport of boats.

The town stretches between the embankment and a main road heading east towards the town of Garda, and west to Peschiera. The architecture along the shore is a quintessence of an old Italian town, with low-rise buildings and narrow cobbled streets inviting for an idle stroll. Each walk there brings a new discovery: an old gate, ancient flagstones, wall paintings, traces of cannonballs on a wall... There is also plenty of places to take a rest, be it a bench in the port or a charming café or a bustling pub either on the waterfront or in one of the side streets. Although the choice is wide, during high season it may not be easy to get a place in your favorite spot on the first go. But, don’t get discouraged: you will probably get lucky the second time around. To get a place to have dinner after 7 pm you better make a reservation in advance and be there five minutes before the arranged time – five minutes late, your table will probably be already
taken.

Once tired of the old-time charm of the town, there is Lake Garda to turn to – it is, after all, the largest and cleanest lake in Italy. In summer, a swim in its waters is a must. Beaches are free and accessible to all, and you can bathe anywhere, except for the port. The best beaches are some 2 km from the port towards the town of Garda. Lazybones not willing to travel that far will find the nearest place for a dip just 200 m in the opposite direction.

Bardolino is not just a town with streets to walk up and down. There is also a path along the lakeshore for pedestrians and cyclists. From the port it takes you left (or west) to Cisano, and right (or east) to Garda. The latter route is definitely more attractive, and also longer, as the walk there takes about an hour. It is particularly worthwhile to go to Garda to watch the sunset. As the whole path is well-lit, walking back after dark will not be a problem. During high season, Bardolino hardly sleeps at all. Most cafés are open till the last customer so even at 1 or 2 am you can get a glass of good wine and a light snack. In the side streets of the old town there are night clubs whose dance floors fill up only after midnight.

The town takes care also of those more musically-minded. For less sophisticated ears there is live music in the evenings in most restaurants; serious music lovers can enjoy opera shows in the heart of the old town two or three times a week.

Early birds will not need to look further than the waterfront for a café serving freshly roasted coffee and a crunchy XXL-sized croissant (or cornetti), being the standard breakfast set in these parts. The prices of a cup of coffee with the Italian croissant on the side is pretty standard as well, ranging round 3 EUR.

But there is more to Bardolino than just the old town, the beach and the nightlife. The town and its countryside are perfect for active holiday. The neighboring hills and mountains are crisscrossed by numerous hiking and bicycle trails, as well as mountain bike tracks of various grades of difficulty. Each day organized hiking tours start from a square near the local fire station. Details of their destinations and how to join them can be found in leaflets distributed in tourist information offices and in some cafés. Road bike fans will find superb trails along the lakeshore. A full trip round the lake is over 150 km, but if you are not up to it you need not turn around – you can also take a shortcut by means of a ferry. The nearest one, just 10 km from Bardolino, leaves for the opposite shore from Torri del Benaco. MTB enthusiasts will be drawn to the summit of Monte Baldo. Real pros can cycle up the hill, but there is also a cableway to the top. Its lower station is in Malcesine (30 km from Bardolino). Monte Baldo rises to 1760 m a.s.l. and offers an unsurpassable view over the northern part of the lake and the surrounding mountains. A trip to the top is best saved for a sunny day, as a cloudy sky and low visibility can spoil an otherwise brilliant photo session. Do note, that the cableway only admits bikes in the mornings.

Renting a roadster or mountain bike in Bardolino should not be a problem, and neither should it be difficult to find spare parts or a bike repair shop. In general, Italy is a cyclist’s paradise, both due to its bike-friendly infrastructure and to the attitude towards cyclists in the streets. So there is no need to ride your bike on the sidewalks – moreover, in the historic parts of many towns it is forbidden and fined.

The lake is obviously a hotspot for water sports. If not sporting your own vessel, in almost every port you can rent a yacht or a motor boat. Seasonal rental of paddle boats, jet bikes and windsurfing gear is possible on many beaches. Should you fancy a ride on a ‘banana –boat’ or a tire in tow of a speedboat – you will also find these. Amateurs of a leisurely cruise, watching the waves and admiring landscapes, can board one of the passenger ships that run as a kind of water taxis.

The area has also a lot to offer for kids. In Lazise, about 10 km from Bardolino, there are entertainment parks for both children and adults. Caneva Aquapark is arranged as a tropical island, with several attractions, while Movieland is an amusement park themed as a film fun fair. You will need to spend a day in each, so buying a two-day entry card is a good option. But the fun does not end there – in Castelunovo (4 km from Lazise) there is another amusement park, Gardaland, and a Sea Life Aquarium, with 350 marine creatures on show.

Practial information and recommendations:

Accommodation:

There is plenty of choice of accommodations. Hotels, B&Bs, apartments and rooms of various standards are available both in the town centre and at the outskirts of the town. The prices range from 30–40 EUR for a room at the outskirts out of season up to 150 EUR for the same room during high season. There are also numerous camping grounds in the area. In season, it is unwise to arrive without prior booking of accommodation. Free public parking lots close at night, so if arriving by car, be sure your hotel offers parking space as well.

Restaurants and cafés:

In high season it is difficult to stick to the rule of thumb that one should go where the locals go, still the choice of places to eat is multiple and can cater for every taste, and wallet.

Recommended:

  1. Gelateria Cristallo – the best ice-cream place in Bardolino, located at the waterfront, near the port; queuing is unavoidable, but there are dozens of tastes to choose from (a personal favorite: pear with chocolate)
  2. Caffe Italia – tables with burgundy umbrellas at the waterfront (no logo), or seats at the restaurant; specializes in sea food and offers a wide range of wines by the glass; very fine breakfasts in the mornings
  3. Pizzeria at via Mameli 19 – rectangular pizza slices, only as a takeaway, but worth a try
  4. Ristorante Pizzeria La Conchiglia, via Borgo Garibaldi 19– winner of several ‘best pizza in the world’ competitions, and with good reason – it is delicious, so do not let the look of the place put you off!
  5. Il Giardino delle Esperidi, via Mameli 1 – the restaurant has been mentioned in the Michelin Guide several times. A short menu, seasonal products and a vast wine list, with several wines served by the glass – the food is incredible and the service faultless. But the place is tiny, so you need to book your table up to several days in advance.
  6. Ristorante dell’Arca, Strada dell’Arca 3 – the restaurant is located at the outskirts of town, and getting there can be a bit tricky. On the main road to Garda, some 300 m past the last roundabout in Bardolino, there is a sign pointing to the Arca restaurant. Turn right into a very narrow and steep track branching off parallel to the main road. It is a wonderful place for a feast, offering salads, pasta, grilled meat (including 1 kg steaks), sea food (occasionally, as controversial as octopus carpaccio). A good selection of wines, with an outstanding sparkling wine sold by the carafe; book a table in advance.

Wines:

Bardolino lies in the region of Veneto. Red wines from the vicinity can be bottled in the appellations of DOC Bardolino, DOC Bardolino Superiore and DOC Bardolino Classico. They are usually young and rather light wines that will be pleasant for almost every palate, especially as young DOC Bardolino should be served slightly chilled. The neighboring vine-growing regions include the more famous appellations of DOC Valpolicella, DOC Valpolicella Classico, DOC Valpolicella Valpantena, producing Ripasso and Amarone, so the choice is plenty. Of course DOC Valpolicella Classico wines will be the most expensive. Will that make them also the best? It is something to investigate during your stay, but also keep in mind that the price of Amarone is influenced not just by the appellation but also by the producer and the vintage.

The locally available whites include a range of Soave, Custoza and Lugana. While choosing a bottle, look both at the price and at the vintage, as these wines are best when they are very young. The 2015 and 2014 vintages differ dramatically, in favor of the first one.

Rosé lovers should be satisfied with the local Chiaretto, especially from 2015.

As for sparkling wines, there is a wide variety of Prosecco to sample.

Where to buy:

Most restaurants offer good wines at reasonable prices, so you can choose wines from the menu.
There are also several vineyards in the area which you can visit. On the main street of Bardolino there is the Lenotti vineyard.
About 1 km from the town centre there is the Wine Museum, run by the Zeni vineyard (Museo del Vino, Via Costabella 9). Apart from the exhibition presenting the history of viticulture and the production of the famous Amarone, there are also wine-tastings and
a wine shop. The museum visit and the tastings are free of charge, unless you want to sample the Amarone varieties.

Another address is a boutique winery Ca Bottura Via San Colombano 51, one of the smallest vineyards in the region (you can taste the wines before buying).

In the centre of Bardolino’s old town, at Via Cardussi, there is a well-stocked enoteca with wines and specialty foods from various regions of Italy.

Notes for travelers:

  • Accommodation price goes up as the season approaches, so better book and pay in advance.
  • Parking places are scarce in the town.
  • In high season travel by car is slow; the pace at the stretch between Bardolino and Peschiera is comparable to that at the Hel Peninsula (that is, really sluggish).
  • Wines from the 2015 vintage are much better than those from 2014.
  • It is forbidden to feed the ducks in most towns at Lake Garda! Towns and roads are being monitored, so even if the creature looks miserable and there seems not to be anybody around, beware – Big Brother is watching you. But then, the fine is 50 EUR – perhaps not too much for a ticket which will make a truly unique souvenir from Lake
  • Garda.
Mateusz Pitas


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