Pretty Bardolino is less well known than other resorts on Lake Garda, like Riva del Garda, but is an attractive place for a holiday. It has ancient origins, picturesque pastel-coloured buildings and a lovely position on the lakeside. Close to some of Italy's major family attractions, as well as many vineyards and olive groves, it is a holiday resort that has something for all tastes.
There are pebbly beaches at Bardolino, and also at Garda, and a stretch of sandy beach just to the south at Lazise. Punta San Vigilio, further north, has a very popular stretch of shingle beach. Windsurfers and waterskiers are well catered for in the resorts at the north of the lake, particularly Malcesine and Riva del Garda.
Beyond the beach:
Bardolino has a bustling piazza and medieval centre, with two churches that are worth a look: San Severo, which dates back to the 11th century, and San Zeno, which is even older - it was built in the eighth century. There are also a couple of museums devoted to wine and to olive oil. On Lake Garda's southern shore is picturesque Sirmione, once a Roman spa. Visitors come to see the fairytale Scaligero Castle. North of Bardolino is Malcesine, where a cablecar runs from the town up to Monte Baldo, a mountain that is popular with walkers and mountain bikers.
Families seeking thrills, water slides and adrenalin rides can easily get to Italy's largest theme park Gardaland (www.gardaland.it), just a short distance from Bardolino at Castelnuovo del Garda. There is also Aqua Paradise, a major water-park which is part of Canevaworld (www.canevaworld.it), near Lazise. Its attractions include a slide with an almost vertical drop. Canevaworld also includes a cinema theme park, Movieland. For those who prefer quieter pleasures, there are plenty of opportunities for watersports on Lake Garda, and bikes can be hired near Bardolino.
Verona, setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as well as one of Europe's most famous opera festivals, is well worth a visit. It has plenty of shops, elegant streets and historic sites - such as the magnificent Roman amphitheatre.
There are some sumptuous lakeside hotels in Gardone Riviera, on the lake's western shore. Among them is the Grand Hotel Fasano e Villa Principe (Corso Zandarelli) (www.ghf.it), a former Austrian hunting lodge, and Villa Fiordaliso (Corso Zanardelli) (www.villafiordaliso.it) which has just seven rooms - in one of which Mussolini once stayed with his mistress.