The Upper Lake Garda is the golden triangle for windsurf buffs. The gusty Peler wind, which blows in the morning, and the afternoon Ora wind ensure ideal conditions for thrilling surfing. You can skim the waves and fly on the board just like you do in Hawaii, Sardinia, and the French Riviera. Thousands of windsurfers from all over Europe come to the area.
Taking the Gardesana Road east, about 5 kilometers south of Torbole sul Garda is the Veneto shore of Lake Garda. At Malcesine, you'll find many tourists and windsurf buffs. Windsurf schools can be found all along the beaches. Flags and banners indicate the direction, so even the most absent-minded traveler will not lose his way. Further south you'll find the ideal conditions for the northerly Peler wind and the vigorous Ora wind, mentioned by Goethe in his diary on his travels in Italy. Dominating the horizon is the Scaliger Castle, a warning and point of reference for surfers propelled by the wind out on the lake. The Sogno Valley is another surfer's paradise. The wind in the area is perfect for beginning surfers. Lake Garda apparently caters to neophytes, too!
On the Gardesana road is the Pier Hotel, one of the most popular meeting points for windsurfers. The school is run by Miki Bouwmeester, a Dutch windsurf champion who discovered the winds on Lake Garda at the beginning of the seventies. It is one of the best equipped schools with boards, sails and a surf simulator. Audiovisual aids are also available: there is even an interesting VHS course that can be reviewed in the comfort of your home.
Riva del Garda and Torbole Nago, two towns in the Trentino region, have become the capitals of windsurfing and, more recently, of mountain biking, an "environmentally friendly" recreational activity.
Surfer beaches are marked by large signs. You must be careful because some beaches are only reserved to swimming. The breeze of the Ora hits you headlong, but after sailing close hauled, you can ease the sail. The most interesting places are near the Hotel Du Lac beach in Riva, at the mouth of the Sarca River in Arco, and at the Pavese resort in Torbole sul Garda. The ideal solution is at the Circolo Vela [Yacht Club] where you'll find a large parking lot, school and the Conca d'Oro rental shop. You can surf here all year round. On weekends, more than 10,000 surfers come to the area, and nearly half a million people visit the area between April and October.
The crowd first gathers in Lombardy, in the heart of the Upper Garda Park of Brescia. Surfers arrive early. They park in front of the beautiful lemon grove, where the finest fruit of the wide lake is still grown. They slip into their drysuits, then hit the waves formed by the northernly Peler wind with gusts of between 20 and 30 knots. The waves are so tall you can even jump with the board, and it is almost like being at sea. Some surfers try looping. This is the only place where you can really fly over the waves. We're offshore from Prà de la fam [Hunger Meadow], a place given this name by the fishermen who used to stop here for breakfast after hours of launching and retrieving their nets laden with fish.
Milan is just 150 kilometers away. Highway exits are at Brescia and Desenzano del Garda. After reaching Riva del Garda, people arriving from Germany by way of the Brenner Pass must travel south for about 20 kilometers. The road to Salò, the Gardesana Road, was dubbed Meandro by D'Annunzio because it climbs steep cliffs that resemble the ones at Dover. Windsurf champions run most of the windsurf schools in the area, which is a guarantee of excellence. Other distinguished athletes design boards and sails. Important companies have opened Italian and European branch offices on the banks of Lake Garda, while other areas in the region have become authentic technological parks and research centers.
A few kilometers from "Prà de la Fam", in the municipality of Tignale, you can take the long lighted tunnel to Campione, a town which is undergoing extensive renovation. The old cotton mill will become a resort for water sports enthusiasts. Limone sul Garda, 7 kilometers away, is a famous tourist capital of Northern Italy. It has many windsurf schools and rental places along the beaches and at major hotels. If you keep on the state road, you will encounter the Capo Reamol lemon grove. The parking areas full of cars, campers and caravans are the bases for surfers who love the Ora winds. Surfers sail from one side of the lake garda to the other with gorgeous turns and sails large enough for athletes with stamina and muscles.
Lago di Garda Magazine -
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