Walks on Wheels Around Lake Garda 2014
by Rosie Flower © 2014

Rosie Flower flew from Gatwick Airport in England to Verona, Italy before visiting Lake Garda.

This really is an ideal holiday location for wheelers. There are so many wide  lakeside promenades, many which continue for quite a
distance, which are level and have a firm surface. For stopping to enjoy the views, benches are plentiful as are pavement cafés.
Like many European countries, small block paving, laid in decorative patterns tends to be the norm. In some cases paving is made
with small rounded stones  but they tend to be laid in such a way as to make a reasonable ride. Dropped kerbs can usually be found.

We were based in Peschiera del Garda at the lower end of the lake. This town prides itself on the provision of accessible features.
There’s ramped access to the beach, along with a balloon–wheeled chair for disabled swimmers. An annual disabled fishing tournament
 is hosted here, too. All of the older part of town is at lake level, along with streets of small shops and restaurants. A very long path
follows the left shore and a shorter one on the right leads to the beach and marina.

Our visits were based mostly around the lower end of the lake where we found Lazise, Bardolino, Salò, Torri del Bénaco and Garda
all good for walks. In Salò  There’s an accessible WC next to the Tourist Office. Malcesine lies on more of a slope and some large hotels
there occupy part of the lake shore so there’s a limited promenade here. However, on a clear day, taking the cable car from there to Monte
Baldo
is highly recommended. It’s even free of  charge for both wheelchair user and carer! At the top there is level access to
appreciate the views, a choice of eating facilities and accessible toilets at both the top and base station. Note that access to the base
stationis via the lift in the underground car park. We had hoped that Mantova would be an easier historic city to visit than Verona. Unfortunately
the Piazza Sordello is all paved with huge cobbles so this trip was a bit of a disappointment.

However, also south of the lake, the amazing church at Grazie di Curtatone and historic village of Borgetto, adjacent to Valeggio, we found
to be accessible and worthwhile visits. There’s a disabled WC beside the church in Grazie di Curtatone and easy parking for both. Disabled
parking spaces are generously provided throughout the Lake Garda area, we found, and free without time limit
when displaying an EU recognised disability permit (UK “blue badge”).

I’d read that the various boat services on the lake are wheelchair-friendly but we didn’t test this out. There were a limited number of boats
operatingin early May, mainly the smaller ones, and our observations suggested that these would be at best awkward with a wheelchair.
At this time of year their tourist season has barely begun; I’d read that in the summer it can be quite crowded. Aside from scenic walks,
mountain drives and historic buildings the area also offers several theme parks.

Our experience at Verona Airport (Villafranca) was very positive. Arrival was off-stand but the lift vehicle arrived promptly and on departure
we were able to wheel to the door. Airport assistance staff were helpful and English-speaking. The car hire desks at Verona Airport are not within
the terminal building but a  short walk away, with the route lacking signage.
 

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