Worth a Trip: Lake Ledro
From Riva, first the SP37 then the SS240 wind their way west up the mountains. The road signs here speak volumes, warning of low cloud, rockfalls and ice. It's an ear-popping drive past rural villages with an Alpine feel; detouring off the main road into villages such as Biacesa and Pré provides an insight into mountain life. Around 11km from Riva the road flattens and Lake Ledro (www.vallediledro.com) comes into view.
Only 2.5km long and 2km wide, this diminutive lake sits at an altitude of 650m, set in a bowl of tree-covered mountains. Molina di Ledro is at the lake's eastern end, where tiny thatched huts line up beside a string of beaches and boat-hire pontoons. Like Riva, Lake Ledro is the springboard for numerous outdoor activities ranging from hiking and canyoning to paragliding. It also has 200km of mountain-bike trails. The Riva del Garda tourist office can provide more information.
Worth a Trip: Arco
No doubt avoiding the summer tourists, Archduke Albrecht preferred to build his winter palace 5km north of Riva in pretty Arco in 1872. Around it he created a magnificent arboretum, now the Parco Arciducale, planted with huge holm-oaks, sequoias and dagger-sharp cypresses. His neighbours did the same and now Arco blooms beautifully throughout the summer.
Above the tips of the cypresses you’ll spot the dramatically sighted Castello di Arco. Originally built by the Goths over a thousand years ago, it guarded the Valle di Sarca and was controlled by the Counts of Arco from the 12th century until 1703, when the French finally breached the walls.
From Arco, you can cycle north towards Drò to view the rocky desert of the Marocche – an area of huge mountain boulders which have tumbled down the steep slopes and now cover a desert-like area of 15 sq km between Drò, Drena and Lake Cavedine.