As promised last night, here’s the second and final instalment in our Italian summer adventure (sorry again for the fact this is 2 months late!). Given how much Alex and Sophie love the water, we spent much of the week in and on the lakes and in our apartment complex pool. We were staying on the outskirts of Riva del Garda, about 10 minutes walk from the lake and about 30 minutes walk from the centre of the old town. Being just on the edge of town, we enjoyed stunning mountain views form our apartment and we loved watching the weather roll over the hills. It was a pretty small place, but just fine given we were outside almost the entire time – and best of all, it had a swimming pool!
Every day, when we arrived home mid-afternoon from a day trip, we’d get straight into the pool to cool down and play. The children adored it, and both improved so much with their swimming and water confidence with their daily swims. Alex in particular, after year’s of swimming lessons where he mostly messes around under water, suddenly cracked it and randomly swam 30 lengths of the pool by himself, barely stopping! I love these photos of them jumping in with such abandon (and how cool is Sophie’s swimfin – best swim support ever!)
But back to our adventures away from the water….
We took the lake ferry down Lake Garda to visit Malcesine – a truly stunning small town with beautiful cobbled streets and a striking historic castle. The approach from the Lake is spectacular – it looks so fairytale with the mountains behind it and the vivid blue waters in front.
We whiled away a couple of hours wandering the cobbled streets and eating some stunning pasta – and spotting very expensive cars. Not sure quite why Alex and Sophie appear to be praying here – probably hoping for ice cream as it was such a hot day!
Despite the heat, we climbed up to the castle, taking in the views over the red roof tops and the lake beyond.
The contours around the castle meant there were some steep lawns just perfect for rolling down:
And lots of steps for jumping down:
It was a beautiful day in a beautiful location.
On one of our days at Lake Ledro, we took in some more local history at the pile-dwelling museum – the site of some pre-historic lakeside settlements. There was a really interesting exhibition about life on the lake thousands of years ago, and some hands-on building activities to keep the kids busy while we read.
Most interesting were the reconstructed dwellings along the lake, built on stilts over the water. The children couldn’t believe people lived in the tiny huts with only animal skins and fire for warmth!
On a couple of days during the week, we split up with Matt and Alex heading into the mountains for some climbing (more on that later), and Sophie and I enjoying a more sedate time. We took the Lake Garda ferry to explore Torbole, another pretty village on the northern part of the lake.
Sophie loved the pretty little boats that lined the harbour.
We also spent a great morning looking around Arco, a town just north of Lake Garda and a bit of a mecca for climbers and walkers. We took a little train tour of the historic town and enjoyed a little fairground together.
In the meantime, Alex and Matt were having a blast higher up. They spent an hour one day trying out a simple Via Ferrata route – a protected scramble route marked out with cables to clip into for protection. Here’s Alex enjoying his first attempt.
It went so well, that they headed back for a second trip on a much longer and harder route together. I can’t get over this photos of Alex look so independent and grown up, climbing up steep cliffs! He LOVED it!
Here’s the view back down the route they climbed up – how could my baby climb that high?!
Here’s a tired, hot but victorious Alex having completed the traverse, looking back towards Lake Garda and the town of Riva del Garda.
Zooming in a bit, you can see the beautiful red roofs and churches of Arco below.
The end of the Via Ferrata route was near Arco Castle, so Sophie and I climbed up a rather more simple (but still steep) path to meet them there. Rewarded with lollies for their efforts, Alex and Sophie loved the dramatic tower and far reaching views.
Here we are on the way back down – looking rather hot and sweaty!
Lake Garda was such a great location for our first proper international family holiday – there was so much to see and do, but also so many opportunities to relax, swim and take in the glorious scenery. We’ll definitely be back. The kids still talk about their holiday there – mostly they remember all the swimming and the nightly ice cream excursions. Here they are on their final night enjoying an extra scoop. Happy days!