Lying at the foot of the morainic hills covered with olive trees and vineyards, the city of Bardolino is one of the best known and most popular on Lake Garda, both for its scenic beauty and because every year it is home to many cultural initiatives and events.
Famous for the production of Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil and the red wine that takes its name and rosé, Bardolino is located 30 kilometers from Verona, on the eastern shore of the lake, and its name means “Little place of the Lombards “.
In addition to the splendid walks by the lake, the alleys of the center and the narrow streets full of flowers and shops, this town hides a very ancient history and treasures that you absolutely must discover to learn to really love it.
The ancient origins of Bardolino.
Bardolino has very ancient origins testified by prehistoric finds discovered by scholars and researchers. In particular, traces of the pile-dwelling civilization of the lower Lake Garda have been found in the hamlet of Cisano.
The church of San Severo is also a testimony of the town’s antiquity: the foundations of this Romanesque jewel date back to the 9th century. Also inside the church there are a beautiful cycle of 12th-14th century frescoes and an early medieval crypt.
Curiosity: among the numerous finds from the Roman era stands out a singular funerary monument erected by a man to himself while he was still alive. The signs of Scaliger control are still visible today in the turrets and in the remains of fortifications.
The treasures not to be missed in Bardolino.
It is wonderful to walk in the center of Bardolino and admire the typical fishermen’s houses a stone’s throw from the lake shore. These houses were built in a herringbone pattern, one behind the other starting from the first one that stands on the beach. The streets then arose perpendicular to the coast to facilitate the transport of boats safely in front of the house. Not only that, you will find many souvenir shops, clothing and trendy things, interspersed with bars and restaurants set in romantic and suggestive corners.
The exact history of this Castle is clouded by the lack of specific documentation. It is thought that towards the end of the 9th century, King Berengar, unable to repel the Hungarians, allowed the construction of fortresses and forts to defend the towns on Lake Garda. With the Scaligeri of Verona, the castle was rebuilt and enlarged to form a single fortress for the whole town, when it assumed the shape still visible today in the tower, in the doors and in the course of the streets. Sturdy walls were erected reinforced by towers, battlements and battlements: surrounded by a moat it communicated, through Porta San Giovanni (or superior) to the north, with Garda, and through Porta Verona (or lower gate) to the southeast. Today only the two access gates and the rectangular tower on the lakefront are visible of the castle.
Church of San Zeno.
In addition to the Church of San Severo (referred to in the paragraph above), the Church of San Zeno also represents the great historical and artistic heritage of Bardolino and is another testimony of the town’s antiquity. It is in fact considered among the most important monuments of Carolingian origin in Italy, with its Latin cross plan and barrel vaults. It is also the custodian of archaic and refined decorations in the side apses.
What to do in Bardolino.
For groups of friends, families and children.
In the port area, right in front of the Town Hall, there is a colorful train to comfortably visit Bardolino and entertain the little ones.
On the lakefront (towards Garda) you will find a large barrel with a heart-shaped porthole in which to enter to take beautiful souvenir photos of your visit to Bardolino.
At the end of the town, on the lakefront after Parco Carrara Bottagisio, there is a beautiful Ferris wheel. 30 meters high, it is also pet-friendly: a carriage is equipped for the transport of our little four-legged friends.
A splendid historic sailing ship, the San Nicolò, sets sail from the port of Bardolino for tours and excursions crossing the waters of the lake.
In Cisano, a hamlet of Bardolino, there is the Oil Museum. The path unfolds starting from the story of an era in which processing techniques seemed immutable to reach the beginning of the twentieth century, with the turning point offered by technological progress. On display are ancient and unusual tools, in use since the eighteenth century: lever presses, water-powered wheel crushers and other original tools. A special section tells about the cultivation and production of oil through videos and educational panels.
Also in Cisano you will also find the Sisàn Museum, which preserves a detailed classification of the ornithological and fish species of the lower Garda with documented all the traditions related to them.
Bardolino is home to two wonderful routes: the Lazise – Bardolino – Garda cycle/pedestrian path and the Way of Bardolino.
The Way of Bardolino is a cycle/pedestrian path between the vineyards of Bardolino and its surroundings, inaugurated in March 2020, about 100 km long in total, surrounded by greenery. It also takes you to know the wineries in the area, which offer tastings. In all, this walk unfolds on 18 paths of different lengths, from a minimum of three kilometers up to a maximum of twenty kilometers, ideal for those who love cycling or long walks. It crosses 6 municipalities: Bardolino, Costermano, Garda, Rivoli Veronese, Affi and Cavaion Veronese.
For lovers of nightlife.
Bardolino, together with Desenzano, is home to many beautiful nightclubs and discos where you can have fun and stay up late. For aperitifs and cocktails we mention Blanka, Mezzo Clubbing, Swing Bardolino, Lido Mirabello Beach.
The main events and manifestations of Bardolino.
Palio del Chiaretto: every year in May this beautiful event is held to experience a unique experience in Bardolino made of color, flavors and entertainment, which well blends all the food and wine and cultural history of the area. At the appointment, on the flowery and colorful lakeside of Riva Cornicello, the wineries of the Bardolino area are present, with their kiosks offering the tasting of Chiaretto wine (Chiaretto DOC, Chiaretto Classico DOC, Chiaretto Spumante DOG). There are also many food stands along the lakefront offering typical dishes of the lake tradition that go well with Chiaretto wine. Find out here the dates of the current year.
Grape and Wine Festival: every year between the end of September and October there is the annual stage created to pay homage to the wine that is the symbol of a territory, from the Classic to the Superior and to the Chiaretto, which animates the lakefront and the streets of the historic center of Bardolino with a full calendar of events. The beating heart of the event is Parco Carrara Bottagisio, where local associations offer Bardolino wine for tasting, in a long avenue dedicated to the most famous glass of red on Lake Garda. But the Grape Festival is not just wine: dozens of food stands with local delicacies offer tasting menus to delight guests comfortably seated in the thousands of seats available on the shores of Lake Garda. Furthermore, there is never a shortage of musical events, both at the Carrara Bottagisio Park and at the Port of Bardolino. Find out here the dates of the current year.
To consult the complete updated calendar of all the events taking place in Bardolino click here.
How to get to Bardolino.
- From the North: A22 Del Brennero motorway, exit at Rovereto Sud, take the SS249 state road towards Mori and Torbole following the signs for Bardolino.
- From the South: A22 motorway, exit at Affi, direction Bardolino, Garda and Malcesine.
- From the West: A4 motorway, Peschiera exit, towards SS249 Peschiera, Bardolino, Garda and Malcesine.
On the train:
The closest train station to Bardolino is Peschiera station on the Milan-Venice line, then by bus to Bardolino (APT lines).
The closest airports are those of Verona (Valerio Catullo di Villafranca) and Bergamo in Orio al Serio.
I conclude the tour to discover Bardolino by remembering how many beautiful walks and crazy evenings this place has given me, always in step with the times.
See you next time dear Outdoors!
Silvia Turazza – Garda Outdoors editorial staff
Hotels – Restaurants – Experiences on Lake Garda.
On Lake Garda there are many structures in which to stay, from small and well-kept B&B’s to resorts with wellness centers and beauty services, in the section dedicated to hotels find all the information you need to find the most suitable accommodation for you.
The same goes for restaurants, at this link you will find our selection of restaurants on Lake Garda. Remembering that Lake Garda offers several starred restaurants and the quality of the culinary offer is very high.
There are many activities and experiences you can do on Lake Garda, so we recommend you visit the section dedicated to experiences in our magazine by clicking here.