Open Shutter: Charming Scenes From Lake Garda

7 April 2016

While on holiday in Europe, I ventured south with my friend Laura, stopping briefly in Switzerland for crisp mountain air, before descending via train across Italy's northern border.

We were headed towards Lake Garda – Italy’s largest – to experience three days of laid-back living in the waterside towns at the foot of the Alps.


Milan Central station Photo: Andrew Tallon

We hadn’t quite made it to the lake, but I couldn’t resist a wide-angle shot of Milan Central as we changed trains. A raised balcony with cafes and restaurants had us sorted for lunch, and I used the high vantage point to capture the perfect angle.


View from Castello di Desenzano Photo: Andrew Tallon

The local train trundled into our home base of Desenzano del Garda in the late afternoon. We set about finding the best view of town while the sun was standing.

We found it at Castello di Desenzano, an 11th-century fort with a sweeping vista of old tiled rooftops and the mountainous shores of the lake beyond.


View from Lake Garda cruise Photo: Andrew Tallon

The next morning, we booked a ferry pass to explore the western and northern sides of Lake Garda. We made a number of trips that took us up and down the lake's entire length (almost 50 kilometres).

The ferry provided endless opportunities to capture the region's unique combination of classic Italian architecture, aqua water and vast mountain ranges.


Limone in Lake Garda Photo: Andrew Tallon

My favourite stop was in Limone, a touristic, yet charming town most famous for an abundance of lemon-based products (hence the name).

If life gives you lemons, take them to Limone; you could come home with anything, from natural candy to liqueur and even skin cream!


Limone architecture Photo: Andrew Tallon

After hundreds of epic wide-angle shots on the water, I changed to a longer lens to capture some detailed photos of ageing local architecture.

I loved the effect the colourful shutters and flower baskets made as they burst out from rustic pastel-stained facades.


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Peschiera architecture Photo: Andrew Tallon

On our last full day by the lake, we took a 30-minute bus ride to the bustling Sirmio peninsular. The peninsular extends from Lake Garda's largest town, Peschiera, towards the ancient castle village of Sirmione.

I had to take a few steps back to fit in this massive bloom of bougainvillea engulfing a three-storey house in Peschiera’s sun-drenched centre.


Scaglier Castle Photo: Andrew Tallon

The main attraction on the peninsular is the 13th-century Scaglier Castle, established by the Scaglier fleet to fend off local and foreign enemies.

The castle's beautiful moat showed off its historic stone architecture against saturated aqua water flowing in from the lake.


Sirmio peninsular beach Photo: Andrew Tallon

After a few sweaty hours amongst the castle's crowded and narrow pathways, we took a long and lazy break, winding down the afternoon with beer and gelato under the welcome shade of a beach umbrella.


Sirmio peninsular beach Photo: Andrew Tallon

Previous traumatic experiences had taught me to be wary of swans, but I was delighted to find these local birds approachable, friendly and very photogenic.

They seemed to enjoy the summer sunshine as well, waiting in the shallows in hope of poaching a dropped gelato cone or two.


Desenzano del Garda Photo: Andrew Tallon

Back in Desenzano del Garda we witnessed another perfect sunset on our final evening. Mesmerising scenes continued to delay our search for a waterside restaurant to find one last meal and a few last drinks in Lake Garda.

Despite only two full days in the region, I was immensely satisfied with our efforts in experiencing the vast majority of Lake Garda's attractions. My only regret was not staying longer. An extra few days relaxing on the beach would have been more than welcome!


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Andrew Tallon

Andrew is a professional travel and commercial photographer on a mission to experience and shoot the most beautiful places in the world. His ideal day would include shooting sunset in a new city, followed by a few beers at the nearest local! Follow his travels on Instagram @andrewtallon and see more of his photography on his website www.andrewtallon.com.