The first crossing to Riva was at 09:45 so, with 20 minutes to spare, I sauntered around to the ticket office.
I couldn’t get near it as one man was inside buying tickets on behalf of his group of seven – none of whom were content to leave him to get on with the job. (Once I had realised that they were all together and not queuing, I stepped inside).
The man buying was at the counter asking questions – presumably about tickets and routes. The answers could not be heard over one of his group leaning through the doorway to provide further instructions while a third man loudly read out the timetable pinned to the wall outside. I recognised place names and numbers.
The ticket clerk was phenomenally patient.
This scenario continued for five minutes and I’m not sure I would describe the enterprise as an actual team effort, not once a third man started shouting over the second man the same timetable.
Tickets bought? None.
My transaction was very straightforward. Travelling alone, I would have been a little surprised if someone had started shouting instructions to me.
And my ticket €20.50 for a day of visiting multiple towns. Easy.
The boat arrived and everybody, a sizeable crowd but not including the magnificent seven, boarded.
As the ferry moored up at Limone, around fifteen minutes later, it seemed that around half of the people who had boarded at Malcesine were leaving. It was clear how many of the highly in demand top deck seats would be available to the fairly large crowd now boarding.
They might have to join me and the one other passenger who had taken an inside seat. There weren’t that many window seats, particularly on the port side (which was where the best view was to be found) of this ferry. A few went on deck, came back peered in, headed putside again and then reluctantly returned.
The boat moved out of Limone, on the opposite shore to Malcesine, hugging the shoreline and sailing parallel to the road carved out along the edge of the sheer face of the mountains plunging vertically into the lake at this point.
We then crossed back to the Western shore to call at Torbole where we would then turn West again to reach Riva at the Northernmost point on the Eastern shore. This didn’t strike me as entirely logical until I spotted the windsurfers – presumably the ferry channel is such to leave these areas safe for such watersports.
The ferry docked and, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of passengers left the boat.
Riva doesn’t actually share the same history as most of the Lake Garda towns. Buckle up, kids- we’ve got some variation.
It belonged to the Republic of Venice, the Bishopric of Trent, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy and later (1815–1918) to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the Third Italian War of Independence, Riva del Garda was an important supply base for the Austrian navy – at the Northernmost part of the lake it was of vital strategic importance – but was captured by Italian forces. In 1918, after the end of World War I, Riva del Garda, with the rest of the Trentino, became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
It’s a beautiful town but, busy with a market throughout all of the central streets and crowded, I didn’t get many decent shots. Yeah, yeah, yeah – the economic viability of the town is more important than my ability to take photos.
The first carving to catch my eye was this, on the side of a factory. I was fairly intrigued..
…It’s on the walls of the hydroelectric power plant. The station was built in 1928-1929 and, following rework of the pipes, underwent overhaul in 1998. The carving was placed here in 1931 and was created by local sculptor Silvio Zaniboni. It’s called The Genius of Water and was intended to highlight the significance of the power plant.
Away from the crowds, the funicular was doing quiet business up and down to the Bastione. For the princely sum of €6, buying from the machine at the lower station, a return ticket gives you a fast ride up and down the cliff face of Mount in a panoramic.
The numbers of windsurfers had vastly increased by the time I was on the boat out of Riva.
By mid morning through until the afternoon, the crossings are every two hours so the queue waiting for the ferry was huge. I’d been dawdling around town and was a little further away than ideal when I spotted the boat was in.
I wasn’t the last one to join the line and even if I hadn’t hurried, I’d have been comfortably in time to have my ticket inspected. I certainly wasn’t getting a window seat though.
The upper and lower deck seating filled and those who hadn’t joined the queue (probably about half an hour before sailing) were forced to sit inside.
The day had turned quite windy so those who had found the prime seats were shivering their way inside after 30 minutes.
Meanwhile the windsurfers, flotillas and fleets of them, were having the time of their lives (I assume) speeding across the waves.
It was hot by the time we reached Limone so I left the village centre immediately, heading for the cliffs and a cycle/walkway.
Until 90 years ago you only came to Limone if you were very determined. The town was reachable only by lake or through the mountains, with the road to Riva del Garda being completed in 1932. This has now been extended with a parallel walking and cycle track built out over the water from the cliff face.
The views are amazing. The windsurfers and kite surfers were making the most of the weather.
The two main winds of Garda, pub quiz afficionados, making it a very popular spot for these sports, are Peler and Ora.
Peler blows from the north. It affects the whole lake, but particularly the central and northern areas. It starts in the early hours of the morning and continues until around noon. It becomes stronger after sun rise as the temperature increases.
The other main wind Ora, comes from the south and is slightly weaker than Peler. It works along with Peler, it blows from noon until sunset. It is caused by a marked temperature difference during the day so it is strongest in the summer.
It was Ora that I was benefitting from this afternoon as I walked. Without the breeze, the heat was stifling even away from Limone’s narrow but beautiful streets.
The name Limone has bugger all to do with the lemon trees that abound: the town’s name is probably derived from the ancient lemos (elm) or lime. Of course.
It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon
I was less enthusiastic about the music being played by the bar behind me while I waited for the ferry back across the water. Several of the bars and restaurants here and in Malcesine all seem to be using the same sound track – an unholy combination of easy listening, light jazz and lounge… “Take on Me” by a-ha did not sound good in this version. The covers of tracks by Fleetwood Mac were not great either.