The picturesque town of Riva del Garda is an excellent base both to experience the lake, practicing sports such as sailing and windsurfing, and to explore the surrounding mountains, on foot or by mountain bike.
Located on the northernmost tip of Garda Lake, in the Trentino region, at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites, Riva del Garda is blessed with a temperate climate, though often windy, and offers an unusual combination of mountain and Mediterranean landscapes. And thanks to the winds, which often blow here impetuously, Riva del Garda is one of the most popular cities for sportsmen and women and one of the Italian capitals of sailing and windsurfing. But even those who feel more at home on dry land will find plenty to do in Riva: in fact, there are many paths for hiking or mountain biking that climb the surrounding mountains. But, before getting on your surfboards and trekking rackets, you must dedicate a few hours to visiting the old town. Exploring it is impossible not to be fascinated by the maze of narrow streets dotted with bars and restaurants, on which open the typical Venetian / Lombard style houses in pastel colors, overlooking the small harbor. In the central Piazza III Novembre, stands the medieval Apponale tower, 34 meters high, originally built with the function of sighting and defense of the port. Those who feel like climbing the 165 steps to the top will be rewarded with a splendid view of the lake and the rooftops of the old town.
Not to be missed is the so-called Rocca di Riva del Garda, built around 1124 to defend the city and over the centuries restructured and modified several times, until it was used as a barracks by the Austrians. It is thought that during the Scaligera domination, around 1300, it was a perfect model of medieval castle-fortress surrounded by water, like the one in Sirmione. Today the Rocca houses one of the two exhibition centers of MAG, Museo Alto Garda, where you can admire works by artists of the nineteenth century as Pietro Ricchi, Vincenzo Vela and Francesco Hayez; there is also a section dedicated to archeology, and one designed for children, with interesting educational workshops. From the center in few minutes you can reach the picturesque lakefront, full of gardens and long and spacious beaches, where you can relax a little or cool off with a nice bath. Skirting the lake from the city center you can reach Forte San Niccolò, starting point for excursions to Mount Brione, where there are numerous fortifications dating back to the First World War.
But if we are talking about panoramic routes, no one beats the Busatte-Tempesta path, in Torbole, a few kilometers from Riva. It is a place of pure beauty, much loved by photographers and Instagrammers, thanks to its 400 steps overlooking the blue waters of the lake and literally suspended on the side of a mountain covered by a green forest. Another pleasant trip from Riva del Garda is to the Cascate del Varone, located in a charming cave carved by erosion in about 20,000 years. The route is divided between walkways and ladders inside the cave, where you can see the jump of the waterfall (98 meters!) and feel, between one spray and another, all the disruptive power of water. Consider that you’ll probably come out of here completely soaked, so keep a towel handy to dry yourself or wear a waterproof jacket and non-slip shoes directly. From here you can also leave to discover the nearby Canale di Tenno, a medieval village where, among ancient walls, stone houses, cobbled streets and frescoes, time seems to stand still.