Italy's largest lake is located at the foot of the Alps, only 30 km from Verona and midway betwen Milan and Venice. It makes a great base for trips to the Valpolicella and Amarone vineyards, as well as to charming alpine cities like Trento.
The most famous towns on the lake – Sirmione and Desenzano – are on the southern shore and offer world-class beauty spas, exciting nightlife, and every kind of lodging. Sirmione's pride and joy is its 13th-century castle, a rare example of medieval port fortification, but it also boasts a Roman edifice.
All day long, ferries make their way around the lake, stopping at little fishing villages like Gargnano, which is about halfway up the western shore.
Just outside town is San Giacomo di Calì, a tiny church that was built in the 13th century. On one side, facing the lake and the snow-capped mountains across the waters, unknown artists (probably monks) painted four soulful saints whose colors have withstood the ravages of warfare and weather. The chapel's rough-hewn façade received a new door and windows in the 1500s. It is very possible that Mussolini sought comfort inside as he hid out from partisans at the end of his life. Today the site is used by fishermen, whose colorful nets match the faded robes of the medieval saints.
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