Italian Lakes (2013)
INSIGHT: TIME FOR THE KIDS
Lake Garda is undoubtedly the family holiday centre with the biggest cluster of theme parks, holiday homes and campsites.
It’s a thrill a minute at Gardaland (Casteluovo del Garda; tel: 045-644 9777, www.gardaland.it ; late-Mar-Sept daily 10am-6pm, Oct-late-Mar Fri-Sun, check website for times; last entry 1.5 hrs before closing time), Italy’s largest theme park, near Peschiera del Garda, with roller-coasters that loop the loop, wild water rides, the Fantasy Kingdom for littler ones, a dolphin show and plenty of other entertainment. Along the road, there’s hot competition from Movieland at Canevaworld (Via Fossalta 1, Lazise sul Garda; tel: 045-696 9900; www.canevaworld.it ; May-mid-Sept 10am-6pm, until 7pm mid-July-end Aug, weekends only Apr, mid-Sept-end Oct), where you can rock with Rambo, tussle and scramble with Lara Croft and fight pirates with Peter Pan.
Thrills at Gardaland.
Give kids a tower or a mountain and up they have to go - there are both in bucketloads here. Be prepared to dig deep into your pockets for trips up cable cars and chairlifts. Once at the top there are wonderful walking trails. Take cold weather gear, binoculars and a book on wildlife as the flowers and birds are as lovely as the views. You may even see a marten or fox.
To see animals - alive, extinct or endangered - spend a day at Parco Natura Viva (Loc. Figara 40, Bussolengo; tel: 045-717 0113; www.parconaturaviva.it ; Faunapark Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun until 6pm; Safaripark Mon-Sat 9.30am-3.30pm, Sun until 4pm), which has a drive-through safari park, walk-through fauna and dinosaur parks and a tropical greenhouse and aquaterrarium. Rated as one of Europe’s top zoos, it works for the protection of endangered species.
Culture for Kids
This is the perfect place to give kids a love of history and art. Pace it out, research the horrible histories and get some real-life stories dripping with blood and gore; look at the way things were made and used and the next thing you know you will have a pint-sized archaeologist (or travel writer) on your hands.
Swimming in the Lakes
Who needs a pool when there are several hundred natural swimming pools with water of deepest blue to vivid turquoise, with hundreds of kilometres of (usually rocky) shore to play on; whether you’re paddling or snorkelling, this is the ideal playground for kids and grown-ups.
Eating Ice Cream
Italy may have given the world Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, but for most children its greatest gift was food - pizza, pasta but above all, gelato - luscious ice cream in a rainbow array of flavours.
Prefer things a little splashier? There are some watery rides at Gardaland, but you would probably be better off heading for Parco Aqua at Canevaworld (address, see left; mid-May-mid-Sept 10am-6pm, until 7pm July-Aug), with rides and slides, lagoons and pools. The rest of the advertised water parks are mainly overgrown pools with some slides. They include: Parco Acquatico Cavour (Località Ariano, Valeggio sul Mincio ; tel: 045-795 0904; www.parcoacquaticocavour.it ), Acquasplash Franciacorta (Via Generale della Chiesa 3, Corte Franca; tel: 030-982 6441), Acquapark Altomincio (Località Torrente Valle, Salionze, Valeggio sul Mincio; tel: 045-237 3540), Parco Acquatico Picoverde (Via Ossario 19, Custoza; tel: 045-516 025; www.picoverde.it ) and Acquatica Park (Via Gaetano Airaghi 61, Milan; tel: 02-4820 0134; www.acquaticapark.it ).