Tuesday 30 June 2015

In Fair Verona: Shakespearean Cities and The Lakes

Italy, 5th – 8th May 2015

Lake Garda as seen from Salò

Exploring Verona

After tackling Venice, the next target on our list was Verona.  The day after Venice, we didn’t do a great deal in terms of seeing things after leaving the campsite at midday.  Instead, our time was taken up with visiting an Interspar to stock up our cupboards and then making progress travelling back west across Italy, which was slow going thanks to travelling through a
lot of towns busy with traffic.  It was the first day when the heat levels started to get noticeable, reaching into the high twenties, but we managed to show restraint and resisted the urge to fall back on the air conditioning with our wills of steel.

The Aire in Verona
Not far from Verona was the town of Soave, where we knew there was a motorhome Sosta that we had read to be free.  However, upon our arrival we saw that there were actually fees of €5.  Not exactly a huge amount, but given that we were going to Verona first thing in the morning where we were going to have to pay anyway, we carried on and parked up for the night in Verona (GPS N45.43354 E10.97879, €10/24h).  The night was warm, and I decided to experiment with methods to keep myself cool, namely putting pyjamas in the freezer.  Matt seemed to find this highly amusing and crazy—as did my mum when we spoke on the phone—but they didn’t get to experience the sweet relief of enclosing myself within the cool fabric.  Just a shame that the cool dissipated in less than a minute!

The river through Verona looking from Castelvecchio

In the morning we walked into the town centre and tackled all of the usual Verona tourist sights, including the Castelvecchio and the Roman Arena (which, at €10 a pop we decided was a little on the pricey side when we were visiting the Colosseum soon anyway), and Casa di Guiletta, which is, allegedly, the house where the Capulet family would have lived.  Given that Romeo and Juliet isn’t based on real life events, I choose to take this with a pinch of salt.

From the main streets of Verona, the courtyard to Casa di Guiletta is accessed through a small passageway, where the walls are absolutely covered in graffiti, much of which was tributes to people’s love.  In the courtyard itself is the view of the balcony that would apparently have been where Juliet made her famous lamentations, and walls covered in mementoes of people’s love, from post-it notes to padlocks with initials and dates.  There were signs around to try and discourage people from sticking paper to the walls with their chewing gum; given that there were dozens already placed within the last couple of weeks, it doesn’t appear to be doing much to deter people.

Onwards to the Italian Lakes

View across Lake Garda from Salò
Our next point of call was Lake Garda; we spent some time online looking at various blogs and websites for a free place to stay near the Lake.  On the southwestern side is a town called Salò, where motorhomes are tolerated on one side of the sports centre (N45.60327 E10.51457).  We headed straight there, and on our way due to increasing temperatures our resolve with the air-con finally dissipated, giving in to its beckoning promises of cool, refreshing air.

Overnight parking in Salò
Lakeside walkway in Salò
Lake Garda waterfront in Salò

Unused building right on the waterfront

In the morning we went walking for a while around the lakeside at Salò, spotting a few properties that appeared to be disused, including a grand looking house with balconies, much to our baffled minds—how does property right by the lakeside in a well maintained tourist town fall into disrepair?  After our walk, we decided we would venture north around the lake, looking for anywhere that seemed suitable to perhaps have a swim or windsurf.  Several signs warned of vehicle size restrictions; our motorhome was well within the size limits, so we carried on along our way.  Right around the time we got to the first tunnel, we were possibly already starting to regret our actions.  Unlike the tunnels we had been driving through so far, the tunnels at Lake Garda were tight, often unlit, tunnels with very few road markings and bare rock on the sides threatening to scrap down the sides of the van.  There were a couple of instances where you had to pass from direct sunlight into sheer unknown darkness and pray nothing was coming the other way.  Passing cars was a nightmare, and after several km of tunnels it was enough that even Matt, who is far from a nervous driver, had to pull to one side to take a breather.  It’s a good job neither of us are claustrophobic!

Other than a bit of a nice walk at Salò, Lake Garda came as something of a disappointment to us.  It was very well maintained, but there were very few beach areas where you could have gone into the water or points where we could have rigged up the windsurfing kit.  In terms of motorhoming, most of the car parks had height restrictors on and the few that didn’t were very expensive for overnight parking.  We ended up parking up for another night in Saló, this time taking the longer way around the other side of the lake rather than face the tunnels again which was a much better route. Before the journey down we called into the Sosta at Riva del Garda where you can pay €0.50 for 1hr parking to get water and empty your waste tanks. Bargain!

We had slightly more success at Lake Iseo, the smaller lake just to the west of Lake Garda.  Here, we had similarly limited success with narrow, winding roads (following the route around the lake for several km along a tight track before we got to a point that had width restrictions too narrow for us to pass; on the route back we had an awkwardly tense moment where we had to squeeze past an Evoque with rocks projecting from the cliff on the other side), but we did spot a motorhome sign outside a car park in the town of Sarnico, where we stayed for the night (N45.64758, E9.97732 – moveable height restrictors, so perhaps not a tolerated spot during the summer).  There were a lot of cycle paths nearby, so we had a leisurely cycle ride around the town and along the water’s edge passing Riva boats’ factory. In the evening the weather changed and we had a huge thunderstorm and heavy rain with lots of impressive lightning that unfortunately we didn’t catch on camera.

Lunch stop at the side of Lake Iseo

View across the water from our overnight spot in Sarnico

Next quest: acquire some Bolognese in Bologna!

- Jo


  1. Hi Guys, loving the blog, we stayed the night in the exact same spot where you had you lunch on lake Iseo in June this year on our three week trip around the lakes.

  2. Hi Tracey thank you for the comment, it was a nice spot - we would have considered overnighting there but when we drove back past it the bays had all filled up I think!