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Lake Garda, Italy: A Retreat of the Mind

"In America, one must be something, but in Italy one can simply be." — Pietros Maneos

Yesterday atop a hillside overlooking spectacular Lake Garda, I discovered why my soul needed this trip organized by Visit Brescia. Our first hotel site inspection tour of the morning was to family-run Villa Sostaga, and on its tranquil, grassy grounds with panoramic views, the owner told us, "This is where you come for a retreat of the mind." As we viewed different rooms of his cozy house hotel, one of them struck me in a moment and made me feel so relaxed and appreciative - a bright sitting room facing the open doors of a balcony with lake views. I sat down on the sofa looking outdoors and realized I was on my own Retreat of the Mind. Since arriving in Italy, I'd been having the opposite of an out of body experience. I was having a return to body experience. The visual beauty was so overwhelming, I found myself needing to balance out my senses. I began touching things as I walked along - rough stone walls, flowering vines, and hanging leaves. I purchased perfume made on Monte Isola (shown above), an island we visited on a boat tour of Lake Iseo, so I could have the scents of Italy surrounding me. My Retreat of the Mind filled all my senses - including taste, of course! We were treated to sumptuous meals and fresh, delicious wines everywhere, being in the Franciacorta wine region.

Each day of this fabulously planned familiarization trip organized by Visit Brescia was filled with new sensations and sides of Italy I didn't really know existed. I'll admit, I was unfamiliar with Lake Garda before I was invited by Visit Brescia to come here, stay at the truly special Grand Hotel Fasano (on the Lombardy side of the lake with its own small pier), and get a tour of the area and its variety of boutique hotels including the sleek architectural style of Eden Reserve Hotel and Villas, a wellness resort in its own vineyard at L'Albereta Relais & Chateaux (with Italy's only Chenot spa), and the stupendously spa-tasting Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda - with infinity pool views onto Villa Sostaga above and the lake below. All the properties are so different, but they are all perfect in their own way. THIS is why you hire me as your travel advisor. I walk through the lobbies, rooms, restaurants, and grounds of properties around the world, meet their managers, and learn about what makes them unique because YOU are unique, with your own unique tastes too.

I noted which side we stayed on because Lake Garda, well-situated between Milan and Venice (nestled between Brescia and Verona), touches three regions of Italy: Lombardy to the west, Veneto to the east, and Trento to the north. Each region maintains its culture - including its culinary traditions, so the typical dishes you find on one side of the lake will be different than the other side. Lake Garda is actually Italy's largest lake, and it has its own microclimate - a Mediterranean feel in Northern Italy! The southern lake resort town of Desenzano del Garda has a rail station that makes it a popular stop, and to the north, you have the dramatic Dolomites and Alps. To visit all of Lake Garda is to see so many sides of Italy itself!

Let Nine Muse Travel help you be the first of your friends and family to experience Brescia and Lake Garda. It's just one celebrity wedding away from being on everyone's radar like Lake Como (thanks to George Clooney) and is still undiscovered by most Americans. I've already planned my next trip back! More on that to come... Ciao!



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