Blog, Italy, Travel

Sailing on Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda – the largest lake in Italy. That is a statement itself, seeing as how many beautiful and popular lakes Italy has, such as the celebrity-loving, Lake Como. With it being the largest lake in Italy there are a ton of activities and places to enjoy on water or land. On our first visit to Lake Garda we explored the city of Sirmione, to visit the Scaliger Castle (to read the post click here). The second time we visited it was to enjoy the lake on the water by sailing!

Adam and I were extremely lucky with our Workaway hosts, Marco and Aly with their two little boys, not only were they a loving family, but they treated us like family. Some days we felt like we never worked because they would take us out on an adventure. One of those adventures was sailing on Lake Garda.

We followed our hosts to Lake Garda, from their home in Brescia, which took around an hour and a half. Marco’s parents retired to a town called, Gargnano on the western shore of Lake Garda, therefore they visited Lake Garda often and had a place to stay when needed. It was wonderful meeting his parents, they felt like extended family to us and treated us like family. Just remembering the day and writing about it makes us nostalgic. His parents had a beautiful home right on the lake, which of course had the most beautiful view.

One of the boys, Matteo, wanted to go swimming in the lake, as did we, so Aly took us to a nearby “beach” to enjoy the water. The water of Lake Garda was very clear! We could see all the rocks on the bottom at least 3-4 feet deep. The water was cold near the shore, but that didn’t stop us or Matteo. Despite the rocks hurting our feet, we had a nice first swim at Lake Garda.

When we arrived back to the house, Marco’s friends had arrived and with no surprise, greeted us with open arms – we love the Italian culture. Marco’s friend owned a sailboat, (hence our reason for being there) and after a delicious lunch, we headed out to the dock to experience sailing on Lake Garda!

The buildings and homes at Lake Garda all have vibrant colors with the most beautiful bougainvillea flowers growing along the walls. We saw these bougainvillea flowers all over Lake Garda, including both towns of Sirmione and Gargnano. Along the lake was a brick layered walkway with more pretty flowers and fruit trees. Everywhere we turned was picturesque and it only got better when we viewed the city from the water. In fact, one of the colorful buildings we saw in orange and yellow happened to be Mussolini’s villa – now a Michelin star restaurant.

Once we set sail, Marco’s friend started teaching us how to sail ourselves. We both mostly kept an eye out for the dial making sure we were directing the sailboat the right way, but then we would end up missing out on the views. Nevertheless, it was fun sailing and fairly easy to pick up the basics, but if you asked us questions on how to sail, we could not give you correct answers. It was very peaceful letting the wind take us into the direction it desired. The key to sailing that we remembered the most, is the importance of the wind hitting the sails in the right way to move us in the correct direction, so that we do not lose the current of the wind. The slightest movement in the wrong direction could lose the rhythm of the sailing completely.

As we said already, the views from the lake were unbelievable! We were surrounded 360 degrees by beauty. There were the colorful buildings, a church with bell towers high above everything else and a mountainous backdrop. It was a setting we had never seen before while on a lake – it was truly beautiful.

As the buildings grew smaller the more we sailed into the center of the lake, we finally anchored to go swimming and enjoy the water. The water was perfect! Nothing like the temperatures we experienced near shore earlier that day. We mostly swim in the ocean, so swimming in a clear, beautiful, lake was refreshing. The water was just cold enough and there was obviously no salt water to consume. We will always love swimming in the ocean, but swimming in Lake Garda was one of the best swims of our life. In addition to the perks of lake water, we felt like we had the lake all to ourselves and the views of the mountains all around us were magnificent – what more could we ask for?

After what felt like hours on the water we sailed back into town with wet suits and big smiles on our faces. Sometimes we had to pinch ourselves that this life we were living was real. We are sure that most Workaway experiences are amazing, but our hosts really take the cake. How many volunteers can say they learned how to sail on Lake Garda with their host family!?! We will forever be grateful to Aly and Marco and their friends and family for their generous hospitality in making this day of sailing on Lake Garda a memory we will cherish forever. After amazing experiences like this, we are already looking forward to trying our hand at sailing again. So be on the lookout for Captain C+A on the lake or ocean!

Whether you love sailing or want to try for the first time, we highly recommend Lake Garda, Italy. Though we were lucky to know people with a sailboat here are some highly recommended sailing operators located throughout Lake Garda:


Captain C+A