Lake Toblino and the connected Lake Santa Massenza, surrounded by mountains and vineyards, are located in the middle of the picturesque Valle dei Laghi – Valley of Lakes. It starts just outside the northern edge of the Garda and goes almost to Trento, the capital of the Trentino region. The valley is served by a panoramic car and bicycle trail, whose main attraction is Toblino Lake with a medieval castle on the island. How to visit this place, what is the legend of the castle, where to stay, where to eat in the restaurant, where to arrange a picnic, where to drink a great coffee on the terrace with a beautiful view? Come and see again the magical Trentino.
Valle dei Laghi – Valley of the Lakes in Trentino
There’s such a valley in northern Italy, where on a stretch of several kilometers you’ll find seven lakes, four castles, the largest rock landslide in the Alps – Marocche di Dro – with dinosaur footprints and top-class vineyards, of which only – in this small area – produced is the unique Vino Santo. This extraordinary place begins a bit behind the northern shores of Lake Garda and is the perfect destination for one-day or half-day trips from Riva del Garda and Torbole sul Garda. Valle dei Laghi, or the Valley of Lakes, is very well presented on the above graphics. In the upper right corner you can see the northern ends of Lake Garda, further down there is Lake Cavedine, Lake Toblino, Lake Santa Massenza, above Toblino is a small blue crumbling lake – Lake Lagolo, then Lake Terlago, and finally Lake Santo and Lake Lamar. Castles are Castello di Drena, Castello Toblino (on the island), Castello Madruzzo and Castello Terlago.
Toblino Lake – only 25 km from Torbole sul Garda
The entire Valley of the Lakes is at least two full days of sightseeing, so if you cannot afford it, go even to Lake Toblino. The route that leads through the Valley of Lakes is very picturesque and delights from the windscreen of the car. There’re vineyards on both sides of the road, and Marocche di Dro and Lake Cavedine can be seen without getting out of the car, if you only take the section from Dro to Pietramurata by selecting the circular and narrow road SP214, access from crossroads in Dro via SP84. Another solution for those who have a very tight schedule is to come to the Garda – or exit – this panoramic route through Toblino, instead of being more popular by Rovereto. Just leave the motorway in Trento and follow the signs for Garda / Arco. The tension increases with each kilometer driven. First, beautiful mountain views, later Lake Toblino, then vineyards and drive along the Sarca river, even later visible from a distance the castle in Arco, located on a high rock and suddenly Garda. I was followed this way for the first time to Riva and I’ll never forget it.
The panoramic trail through the Valley of Lakes – from Garda straight to Lake Toblino
The panoramic trail through the Valley of Lakes – a circular route through Marocche di Dro and Lake Cavedine
Lake Toblino in early autumn. Golden leaves on trees and vines
The photos you see in this article come in all from my three visits to Lake Toblino. The first time I stayed here when was driving from Trento to the Garda in July 2010, the second time at the end of August 2017, while the most colorful photos, including shots from the drone, come from the last days of September 2018, when the best weather paradoxically appear. The almost cloudless sky and intense sun providing a nice color of water, and at the same time the first signs of autumn in the form of golden leaves on parts of trees and vine shrubs, created an amazing scenery, more beautiful that was also captured from the bird’s eye.
The Council of Trent and the honor of the family, or a few words about the history of Toblino
In December 1545, following the speeches of Martin Luther, located a dozen or so kilometers from Lake Toblinon, city of Trentino – the capital of Trentino Region, a General Council began. The Church hierarchs flocked to the Adige River to discuss the eradication of heresy and to repair the situation within the Catholic Church. For this occasion, the palaces in the city center and the Piazza del Duomo itself were renovated to provide guests with the supreme comfort. Clean mountain air, beautiful views and excellent cuisine made the papal legates feel so good in Trento, that they were in no hurry to end theological debates, as a result of which the Council lasted at intervals of almost eighteen years! And it’s at this time – as the legend says – that one of the bishops had love meeting in the Toblino castle. When the girl’s brother heard about the affair, he drowned his sister in the lake’s waters to save the family’s honor.
How to visit Lake Toblino?
One could say that it’s simple, nothing special. To come, see, walk a bit, and come back. The road runs near the lake, no philosophy. Sort of. First of all, there’re no parking lots at Toblino Lake, which is a huge obstacle for anyone who would like to see more than from the windscreen of a moving car. There’s also no wide shoulder, where you can stop for a moment and snap photos. What’s more, this road conducts traffic, and from the lakeside, access to the reservoir is limited by a road barrier. Not counting the bus stop (located just in a bad place in terms of the view of the lake) along the road there are three ground bay bays, but they are “wild”, i.e. driven by stopping vehicles, but unforeseen to stop by the road administrator. There’re no pedestrian crossings or any section without the road barrier, which means that those who stop and want to reach the shore of the lake must cross a traffic road in an unacceptable place and jump over the road barrier. It’s dangerous, not to mention you can get a fine for it. So what to do? There’re three possibilities.
A walking and cycling path along the Toblino Lake
Fantastic bike trail leads through the Valley of Lakes from the Garda, passing, among others Lake Toblino. The start of the trail, map of the cycle paths of this part of Trentino and information about the infrastructure for cyclists and bicycle rentals can be found in the “Lake Garda by bicycle” article.
Parking in the Toblino castle
Okay. There’s a small parking lot within the castle, but the castle is a private property. Parking is provided for the guests of the luxurious restaurant located in the castle walls (more in the further part of the post) and for the customers of the bar, which is located in the former farm building. The bar has very affordable – for this part of Italy – prices, coffee costs about 1.5 euros. There’s no fee for parking (condition as at the end of September 2018), but let’s agree, a person who use someone else’s backyard and do not pay even for an espresso at the bar is simply a redneck.
Small parking lot at Lake Santa Massenza
Connected to Toblino, Lake Santa Massenza, although cannot boast of a castle on the island, it offers a few parking spaces. That’s why I encourage those of you who are very economical in spending money, but have lot of time to try to park there and go to the castle. Why to try? Near the roundabout, there’s a parking bay with places for three cars. In July and August it’s hard to hit empty one, but try it’s always worth it. Next, along the lake, there’s a parking lot in front of the power plant gate. Parking space lines have been painted yellow, which means they’re of special use. Nevertheless, I stopped in that place twice, other people also stopped, they were picnicking, they were spreading blankets on the grass and no one had any problems with parking the cars on foreign plates.
Where to eat at Lake Toblino?
Castel Toblino bar with a panoramic terrace
Yes, this is the bar and coffee that I wrote about while parking in the castle. A year ago, 1.2 euros for an espresso. Without coperto. Wouldn’t life be more beautiful if we could – instead of throwing money into parking machines – sit down with a cup of coffee with such a view? Exactly. Therefore, sit down and drink, it’s really worth it.
Restaurant in the castle Toblino
There’s not much I can write about this place. Once I tried to enter (2017) to see the restaurant interior and find out what the menu contains, but the lady from the service did not allow me to even step on the threshold. She threw me out for no reason, thus leaving me confident that the service is unpleasant in this place, and the restaurant is intended exclusively for premium customers. I do not recommend it.
Excellent food and a large selection of wine. The modern building is located right in front of Lake Toblino, going from Garda direction. In addition tables outside surrounded by vines and mountains. You can read more about the Toblino Hostery here:
Lake Santa Massenza – just behind Toblino
Lake Santa Massenza – in addition to a small parking lot – also offers a large square of greenery, and on it a few wooden tables with benches. It’s a very good place for a picnic and kids’ pick-up, though it would be even better if there were even a few elements of the playground. The wooden pier is very nice, from which there is a nice view.
Lake Toblino from a bird’s eye view. Italia by drone
Trentino – the land of 300 lakes
The amount of material, that I collected in Trentino in September 2018 is huge and I’ll gradually give you new posts. Already in the next one, we’ll move to really high mountains, where I’ll show you a short trail ideal for people without high form and families with children. And below is a video with extracts of what you can expect on the blog in the coming months. The clip was made as a preview of my talk about Trentino at the World Travel Show 2018.
Articles about the Trentino lakes – not counting Lake Garda you’ll find below. Both with drone movies.
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All the best
The post was created in cooperation with the Trentino Region