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Tremosine: Picture perfect in every way

Written by 21 May 2014 7 Comments

Tremosine sul Garda. It’s beyond impossible to encapsulate the sheer beauty of this Italian getaway in words, or be able to really get across the crazy deliciousness of the local produce, but after spending a weekend in this mountainous commune beside Lake Garda in northern Italy, I swear I will try to do my damn best as it deserves recognition! Not only is the landscape so picturesque it felt like someone had sneakily taped a watercolour painting to my sunglasses, but the locals of the area are ridiculously friendly and can create authentic delicacies that’ll blow your sandals off.

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The Tremosine comune (township) is located in the Italian province of Brescia, in Lombardy, and is a bit tricky to get to from Milan airport (the closest airport). You’ll be driving for a solid 2 – 3 hours to get up onto the mountain, but once off the main motorway the scenery transforms to panoramic mountains and quaint (if a bit scarily tight) zigzagging roads that pop in and out of the cliffs. Ascending the mountain is not for those prone to travel sickness as the road traverses the slopes in tight corners, but man up and suck some ginger travel sweets as once you’ve gained height, the view of Lake Garda and its infinite waters is worth it. Hell, you’ll be able to write home and say you’ve just been cruising along the same roads as James Bond (Daniel Craig) in his epic car chase in ‘Quantam of Solace’ (2010).

Tremosine is a sprawling comune of a small population of 1,930 on the narrower northern side of the lake and is divided into 18 frazioni that vary between 400 – 600 metres altitude: Vesio being the largest and Pieve being the most beautiful in architecture and spirit. It gets Mediterranean and Alpine climates with roughly 2050 hours of sunshine a year meaning olive trees and grape vines flourish here.

Tremosine is the place to jet to when you’re after an active holiday of hiking, walking, cycling, sailing, horse riding… the list goes on! Of course, you could just spend it wandering the streets, taking in the impeccable sights of the lake, stopping at all the random cafes and restaurants that are waiting to stuff your face for you.

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Get hold of a car when in this area as the long winding roads would take quite a while to walk to explore all of the frazioni. Or get hold of a horse. Why not? Tremosine is a delightfully quiet area which will keep you in awe of its never-ending scenery and tasty local wine.

Exploring the frazioni

Pregasio is tucked up high in the mountains with great views of all of Tremosine. The terrace at Hotel Paradiso is quite sketchy as it protrudes far out above the waters that lay hundreds of feet below, but its location serves up great views. From this point, you can trace the faint trail in the hillside that links the village to the lakeside village of Campione. This old trail is a light hour or so walk to the water’s edge and has stood the test of time since it was used by the first settlers of Tremosine. They used to jaunt up and down this steep rocky face on a daily basis getting to the Cotton Mill – the main industry of the area back in the day.

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It was fine getting down the mountain (just don’t look over the paths edge at some points) but the thought of hiking back up made my thighs tremble in expected exhaustion. I really questioned the sanity of the serious cross-country joggers I saw heading uphill! You can hire guides with Pro Loco if you want to really get lost in the wild.

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Since Lake Garda is, funnily enough, a massive body of water, it attracts visitors for its fun water sport activities. Campione is the place to go to get involved in all water-based fun. Fancy getting swept away? Rent a wind surfer or go kite surfing with Tender Surf, or fake being a holidaying multi-millionaire and soak up the rays on a sailing boat across the lake. You’ll be able to pick out the road that’s cut into the sheer rock face as cars peekaboo out at sporadic holes and bridges in the limestone, and on your other side, you’ll meekly look up to towering mountains!

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The streets of Pieve still retain the old traditional Italian charm. Cafes and drinking holes are here to sample, and rock-cut balconies give picture-perfect shots of Lake Garda and its surroundings at its altitude of 413 metres. Bar Gelateria has a great terrace that you can snap photos with one hand and scarf gelato with the other.

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The people of Tremosine claim that Pieve is one of Italy’s prettiest villages. That’s a big claim, I know. But after sunset, the road through Pieve takes you through magnificent cliffs that are lit up to showcase their enormity and the haunting Virgin Mary shrine. Not only does the village contain some of the sweetest and oldest houses, its juxtaposition by the rugged elements adds to its ridiculous amounts of charm.

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Like I previously mentioned activities galore reign supreme in Tremosine and bizarrely it is highly regarded by German tennis enthusiasts. However, since I am as coordinated in tennis as I am at roller-skating (so that is not at all) I got well into the spirit of the mountains instead. I found myself getting akin to nature and frolicking in the fields with horses up at Agriturismo Nai.

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With fingers crossed that my lack of coordination wasn’t going to end up in an awful accident whilst on the horse, I went trekking along country lanes on a cavallo (horse) and past snow-capped mountains. This was my idea of getting active and is definitely the top way of seeing the Italian countryside. Especially when I could wash down the experience with a fresh glass of Sambuco, a cooling and refreshing elderflower drink (NB: not too be mistaken with Sambuca).

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Exploring the food. All of the foods.

So you like food, eh? Well, if you’re in Italy, you better get on board the traditional local food as you won’t regret it! That is unless you explode from sheer unstoppable gorging. Forget about pizza and spag bol as Tremosine prides itself to be a culinary wonder of Italy.

Alpe de Garda is the dairy farm of the commune. Milk from the nearby herds of cows is made into cheeses, such as, Formagella Tremosine – a traditional Lombardy cheese. Get your chops around the Truffle Formagella as the mushrooms have been collected, literally, just up the road. The area produces both white and black truffles during the year! Now I’m not a huge cheese fan (*gasp*), but their fresh dairy ice cream blew my mind, and my waistline, as the creamy vanilla pudding had me grappling greedily for seconds.

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Other traditional dishes to the area include Capù. This wholesome dish is chards, parsley, garlic, grated bread, cheese and egg wrapped in chard leaves. Once bound with string, it is boiled then cut up and served with the lightest drizzle of fine Garda extra-virgin olive oil. Succulent and a pure bite of Tremosine!

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Fresh, fresh and fresh: this sums up the style of the food as all the ingredients are sourced locally and you can really tell from the quality. Sure, I probably gained many pounds from one day of sampling, but I doubt I could’ve gorged on more quality ingredients.

In a nutshell, the Tremosine area is the epitome of traditional Italian lifestyle with a budding desire to share its charm with the rest of the world. The locals will welcome you with open arms and ensure you get a front row seat to the beauty with a satisfied full belly. You’ll leave invigorated with a new appreciation for Italian culture and you’ll be relaxed to the max from the serenity.

So, who’s keen for a trip over to Tremosine??

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All photographs taken by Sophie Saint.

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