This story is about us crusing aboard our SUP during one of the many sunny mornings, in one of the world's most beautiful destinations: Torbole sul Garda.
It almost seems as if mother Nature wanted to create the perfect environment to learn SUPing, as almost all of Garda Trentino is ideal for this young sport, from touring to dowinders.
Today, we have decided to explore the west coast, cruising along until reaching the magical "Ponale waterfall", hidden between steep cliffs and beautiful tiny beaches, surrounded by lush vegetation.
As I look out the window of our room at the Hotel Santoni, the day seems off to a perfect start, with sunshine and mild temperatures: an ideal setup to paddle along the coast without the risk of getting too tired. Before kicking our day off, we absolutely need to take advantage of the hotel's renowned “Wonder Breakfast”, which is available till 11 AM. This is actually a huge perk for all sport-junkies wanting to be active before tasting all of the “Wonder Breakfast” 's delicious dishes.
We quickly check the forecast, which confirms that the whole day ahead looks great, with a cloudless skies and calm waters. Our departure from Hotel Santoni is scheduled by 9:00 AM, so we grab our bikes and, within few minutes, reach Shaka Surf Center in Conca d’Oro. Mike and his staff had already set us up with some SUP boards and we're all ready to go right away.
The water surface is absolutely pancake-flat and our boards glide effortlessly. Within minutes, we're already in front of Sarca's river-mouth, where we can see the usual organized hustle of Segnana Surf Center.
As we're heading towards Porto San Nicolò, we come across some wonderful scenery, as Riva del Garda starts showing in the background. We kept paddling to pass by Porfina and Punta Sabbioni, reaching Riva's harbor shorty after, where were momentarily got off our SUPs for a quick stop in Spiaggia degli Olivi, to have a nice cappuccino while enjoying the wonderful view of the Lake from their terrace.
We then cross Riva to reach the statue of "Cristo del Lago" (Lake's Christ), which is directly below Ponale's renowned scenic trail, which was recently included into a listing of the world's most spectacular trails. The statue of the Christ was sculpted by Fra Silvio Bottes, and emerges directly from the center of the "Serenella"wall, a steep cliff which allows for perfect "water solos", climbing directly above water . The name was actually given by locally renowned climber Giuliano Stenghel, who dedicated it to his late wife Serenella.
Upon reaching the Christ, who almost seems to float on top of the steep cliff, we gaze in admiration to then go on with a slight north wind gently pushing us from the back, thus making the paddle even more enjoyable.
While cruising along the coastline, we spot numerous cliffs and steep walls packed with climbers hanging carelessly, as they're directly above water.
After gliding by the explosive green vegetation and the turquoise waters of the shallow shores, we reach Sperone beach, directly below the old austrian-built world war 1 forts.
The mountain then caves in slightly, opening up to reveal the bay guarding the coveted Ponale waterfall, hidden behind a tiny vegetation-covered entrance which shelters its beauty from the outside world. After gazing in awe, we arrive at the renowned “Schweinebucht” (n.d.r. "Spiaggia dei Maiali"), which would have been teeming with windsurfers in the following hours. This early, though, everything is still calm and relaxed. After few more paddle strokes, we get to the world-famous PierWindsurf, were we hop off our boards to take a break. After a quick chat and hopping back onto our boards, the Ora started blowing us downwind, allowing us to reach Riva much faster and almost effortlessly. The tail wind couldn't have been more welcome as we really wanted to get to Spiaggia degli Olivi by lunchtime, in order to eat just few meters away from the water's edge. This is the perfect spot to relax or enjoy the delicious ice cream, while soaking the wonderful landscape in. Not only are there countless great options for eating and drinking in Riva, but we can also have our boards few meters away, ready to go whenever we feel like it. The historical centre is obviously full of cafés and restaurants as well. An absolute must is Flora, which is by far one of the best ice cream parlors of the area.
After enjoying a tasty lunch, a great coffee and mouthwatering ice cream, we slowly start making our way back to Torbole, where windsurfers are flocking to the water to take full advantage of the now strong Ora. The situation is much more delicate now, and we were absolutely glad we started our trip as soon as we did. We managed to make our back to Circolo Surf Torbole where we sat on the balcony, Spritz in-hand, to enjoy a picturesque sunset before taking our time to get back to Hotel Santoni; a wonderfully full day of SUPing, in typical italian "Dolce-vita" style!
By dinner time, Torbole lights up, offering a wide selection of gret restaurants just few steps away from Hotel Santoni. We pick our long-time favourite, which is just a stone's throw away, Nuova Garda.
If you felt like going for a walk in Riva, the absolute musts are having a drink in Rivabar, one of the best in the whole northern-Garda area, to then eat homemade cuisine at Nuovo 900, where Lucio (Fabio's brother) will be ready to treat you to some of the best italian and typical local dishes.
After dinner, a couple of drinks in Wind’s bar are the icing on the cake. Tomorrow will be another wonderfully full day of sports and fun in Garda Trentino.