5 DAYS IN // Levico Terme, Italy

Levico Terme is in Northern Italy. It is one of those wonderful lakes and mountains destinations that few people have heard about and is quite simply charming. More German than Italian, it is relaxed, has things to do and a beautiful lake sitting like a jewel at the bottom of the hill from the town centre. If you like walking, hiking, cycling and the outdoors, you will love Levico.

IMG_2074We went in August and it was a glorious 26-29 degrees. We had one impressive thunderstorm late one night.

Magnificent 7 // Levico Terme, Italy

1. Walk around Lake Levico

2. Frolic lakeside

3. Stroll up to Colle delle Benne Fort

4. Take the evening air in town

5. Hike up a mountain

6. Choose a day trip to Venice or Trento

7. Visit Caldonazzo Lake

Getting there –

We flew with EasyJet from Gatwick to Verona.  The outward leg took off an hour late and made up some of the time on the way, arriving 40 minutes late.  We caught the AeroBus to Porta Nuova train station (6€ pp) and took a train to Levico Terme, changing at Trento.  Mussolini allegedly made sure the Italian trains ran on time.  Whilst not for a moment suggesting that Italy would be better served with a new Mussolini, our train left promptly, however by the time we got to Trento our connecting train to Levico was pulling out of the station, so we had to wait another hour.  After getting up early to be at Gatwick at 1100 we finally got to our hotel at 2130.  Phew.

The return journey was fine, until we got to the boarding gate.  EasyJet left us on a hot bus for what seemed like 30 minutes before we were bussed to the ‘plane.  We then sat on the ‘plane for over an hour before the engines were started and arrived back in Gatwick around 90 minutes late.

Where we stayed –

Our hotel was the Hotel Eden. This is the third time we have stayed at this hotel. The first time as part of a 7 day Lakes and Mountain package with Crystal holidays, the second time on our honeymoon and for our 10th anniversary we have come back again. It’s not the most glamorous hotel we have stayed at. The rooms are fine, the dinners (half board is customary at this hotel) are not vegetarian-friendly, but the service is exemplary. Two small things this time. On our day of arrival, we missed our train connection as the Verona to Trento line was late. We received a call from the hotel, asking us what time we were likely to arrive and they not only arranged for a taxi to meet the train, they prepared two cold plates for us as the hotel restaurant had closed. We also received a wonderful surprise in our room when we finally arrived at the hotel.

Hotel Eden has a small swimming pool with lots of jets, a sauna, book exchange in the lounge and a lovely outside area to drink that last glass of wine before retiring.

To eat and drink –

As we stayed on a half board package we ate breakfast and dinner at Hotel Eden.  The breakfast was fine.  Sue was miffed that if you didn’t get to breakfast early enough the pastries she liked were all taken.  I found the breakfast fine, apart from the coffee that was too strong for my taste.

Dinner was the main event.  Five courses each night and you chose your meal at breakfast by ticking items on a menu. If you like meat this will be heaven.  If not, choices are more limited.  Each night they have a chef’s special and on the whole, these were very filling.

Throughout the town there are many restaurants, Gelateria and coffee houses.  Our favourite was Caffe Nazionalle and we really enjoyed their latte macchiato with the coffee provided in separate mini jugs so that you could adjust the strength of your drink.

Magnificent 7

1. Walk around Lake Levico

This is a fabulous walk. The best way is anti-clockwise, keeping the lake on your left-hand side. It’s 8.8 km and took us just over two hours. Start by the hotels and follow a well-used path. The first section is very flat. There are signs suggesting exercises, both physical and mental, that you can do on your walk. If you do not want to do the whole walk, this section is great if you have mobility issues. Simply walk to the end of the exercises section and turn around and walk back.

If you continue on you will have to walk a short distance on a gravel road before you go back into the woods. Simply follow the big green arrow. When you get to the end of the lake and start your way back on the other side the terrain is a little bit more challenging, but not too difficult. Near the end you will have to walk down a road which is a pity, but once past the caravan park you follow the walking signs to the lake and in no time at all you are back where you started. We celebrated with a much welcome ice cream followed by a swim in the lake.

This is a wonderful walk. You will pass and be passed by other walkers. You do not need hiking boots, trainers are fine and there are some fabulous views as well as lizards, butterflies and flora to look at. What we did not see and were so pleased about, was litter. Not one thing in over 8 km of a woodland walk.

IMG_2085
View down the length of Lake Levico

2. Frolic lakeside

This can be combined with a walk around the lake. You have a choice if you want to spend the day around the lake. You can pay for a private area near the Hotel du Lac, pay for an area near the children’s lido or you can join the majority of people on the grass, using the trees as shelter. We chose the latter and it was terrific. Towels were close to each other, no problem; old, young, bodies beautiful and bodies formerly beautiful, no problem. There are free toilets, you can buy all types of drinks and foods nearby and the water is a great temperature for swimming. There are lifeguards on duty so it is safe. A suggestion would be to wear flip flops to the water’s edge and try and avoid the small stones as you enter the water. A number of locals had swimming shoes on.

3. Stroll up to Colle delle Benne Fort

This late 19th-century fort was one of a number built to defend the city of Trento, at that time part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. It is a pleasant walk from the centre of Levico and takes about 40 minutes. The walk up is steep in places but no need for hiking boots. Nice views on the way. The fort has been restored and it is an interesting building. The cost to enter is 4 Euros per person. There is not much English-language information. Nearly all the information is in Italian, but you get the idea of how the fort was used and where things were located. Take water as there is nowhere to buy any. The toilets just outside the fort are clean and free.

Colle benne Fort
Beautifully restored Colle delle Benne Fort

4. Take the evening air in town

The streets were always full in the cool of the evening and there always seemed to be something going on. We visited in August and most evenings there were musicians or street events happening. There are also craft cabins open until 1030 and most of the shops stay open late. We found a bar that served wonderful cafe latte macchiato and live music was being played in various locations until late.

Levico Terme
Music most nights

5. Hike up a mountain

There are a number of mountain walks to do.  It is best to start at the Tourist office and discuss access, dates, difficulty rating, length and costs.  For example, on the Monday before we arrived there was a guided walk on the Panarotta Mountain which is an easy two-hour walk.  You can get a Valsugana card from your hotel in Levico which means most of the walks are free, but you have to book them in advance.  There is also an organisation called Wild Track Mountain Hiking and Nature Experiences which operates a number of walks in the region.

6. Choose a day trip to Venice or Trento

On previous visits we have taken the train to both Trento and Venice.  The former takes about 45 minutes and the latter around 2 hours.  If you have a spare day or are staying for a week in Levico I would recommend both, although they are very different experiences.  If you are going to Venice we strongly recommend paying for a walking tour.  Our tour was able to go straight in and bypass the long queues waiting to get into St. Mark’s Basilica, as well as providing great insights and stories about this remarkable city.  In Trento, there is the Buonconsiglio Castle and Trento Cathedral as well as markets and a cable car.

7. Visit Caldonazzo Lake

The village of Caldonazzo and its beautiful lake are close to Levico. You can get there by train (1 stop), cycle or, like us, walk. The walk should take around 45 minutes. We did not have a map and followed some cycle paths and an hour later got to the outskirts of Caldonazzo. a small village, typical of the region. It was a further 20-minute walk to the lake. We got back in 40 minutes by using that great standby, Google Maps.

We should have taken a proper map with us. Caldonazzo Lake is much larger than Lake Levico and nowhere nearly as easy to access on foot, nevertheless it is very pretty and you will do the best part of 20,000 steps walking there and back. You could return via Fort Tenna, we thought about it (briefly) and decided no, a swim in Lake Levico was more appealing.  If you are driving you can easily access areas for watersports of all kinds.

IMG_2096
One of the many swimming areas on Lake Caldonazzo

Of Note:

  • If you have a car it is worth visiting Arte Sella near Borge Valsugana which is a huge outdoor art gallery.  There are also lots of other lakes you can easily visit.
  • The Eden hotel has more stereotypical German timing than Italian timing. We arrived at breakfast after 0900 (breakfast 0715-1000) and lots of things had run out. Some were replenished, some were not.
  • The sauna is only switched on from 5pm until 8 pm. Also, you need a swimming hat in the pool.
  • The Tourist Information Centre in the town is very good. The lady working there could not have been more helpful.

Lessons Learnt

  • If you want to go on a mountain walk, research what is available and book up in advance.
  • If you are a vegetarian or vegan look up places to eat before you get there

Fun Fact

Thanks to its organoleptic properties, Levico Water is one of the lightest waters in Europe.  (I had to look up organoleptic when I read this. It means creating an individual experience via the senses. Ho hum.)

 


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