Walks, castles, and organic farming: slow Garda
An itinerary on foot to explore Padenghe sul Garda, an unusual destination that offers exciting and Planet-friendly food and wine discoveries.
The road that runs along Lake Garda is charming, mouth-watering, and easy to follow for long distances both by bicycle and on foot, including the one that goes from Padenghe sul Garda to Moniga. And isn’t it great to get off the beaten track and discover more of the Brescia Garda side with its olive groves and orchards?
Lake Garda is, for Brescia farmers, a helping friend with an always mild climate that makes the hills a perfect backdrop for travellers choosing the lakeside landscape as a getaway location. In this area, it is inevitable and exciting to discover unusual villages and corners to venture into.
For instance, Padenghe sul Garda is one of those villages that one crosses without lingering too long, and, instead, it hides a great artistic and natural heritage, which is fascinating to discover on foot along a route that switches from hilly pre-Alpine areas rich in woodland flora (such as linden, maple and hazelnut trees) to vineyards, olive groves and orchards, where extraordinary fruits are picked to be turned into fragrant oil and delicious jams. Because, here, cherries become intensely flavoured jams and citrus fruits are delicious accompaniments for cheeses. As always, land and table have an indissoluble bond and teach us how to cherish, for real, an enduring love: with patience, gentleness, and mutual nourishment.
Discovering the territory on foot
Here is a not too tiring itinerary to discover the history and nature of Padenghe.
Start from the Castle of Padenghe (there is large car park nearby) and pay a visit to the castle: stepping over the drawbridge gives access to an evocative medieval corner, as well as to another incredible historical period. The castle – built between the 9th and 10th centuries on the ruins of an ancient Roman construction – is perfectly kept and surrounded by an ancient moat (today you can cycle over it, maybe not that charming but surely a safer cycle path). Here and there a few dwellings remain, it is mainly a vantage point overlooking the valley.
Continue towards the hills to reach the small village of Pratello, there are two roads, a quick one (about 600 metres, a junction of Via Monte) and a decidedly more enchanting one, which passes through orchards, olive groves and hilly landscapes amidst the vineyards. Taking this road through Via Pralongo and Via Levrini, you reach the same destination in about half an hour, but this extra time is well spent offering a variety of landscapes that will linger in your eyes and heart for a long time.
From the land to the table, with love
Having reached the delightful village of Pratello, a stop at the Azienda Agricola Pratello is an absolute must: here you can taste home-made wines and immerse yourself in nature. Our tip? Pack a picnic basket with wine and local food, cakes made with the home-made jam and enjoy everything in a relaxed, carefree atmosphere. We are sure that before you leave, you will stock up on goodies on sale at the Pratello winery and farm shop. We can bet on it! A respect for biodiversity and a holistic approach prevail at this farm, blessed with three thousand hours of sunshine per year, and an age-old fruit is grown among the vines with varieties recovered after decades of neglect.
After tasting the local delicacies, continue to the ancient Pieve di S. Emiliano, a small, yet humble church with a long history, traces of which date back to the year 1145, when Pope Eugene included it in the foundations subject to the Bishop of Verona. Small and unadorned, but uniquely beautiful, providing a great sense of peace. Besides, it overlooks wonderful vineyards and the Lake Garda: well worth the roughly 4 km walk.
Should one wish to continue the walk, starting from the Padenghe shore, it is possible to enjoy the cycle-pedestrian path that runs along Lake Garda and that, not by chance, is known as ”the most spectacular walkway in Europe”.