Lake Garda, Italy

Just a couple of hours from Milan is a magnificent lake tucked away in the Alps. The largest in Italy, Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) is stunningly beautiful with dramatic, craggily mountains as a backdrop. A decade ago, I was on the hunt for a perfect get-away from the damp streets of the city and Garda was the answer. Meandering along the mountain roads, I quickly forgot the urban life left behind as the ancient architecture of the villages and sheer magnitude of mother nature captivated my senses. 

With its easy entry and solid on-shore winds in the morning, Garda is a great place to take up windsurfing — which I promptly did. However, amateurs (like myself) should know that typically the wind changes direction at midday and starts blowing off-shore. Keep that in mind if you’re not experienced, as you’ll need to know how to get back to where you took off from. Better to end the day with a glass of white wine and a risotto of fresh lake fish than by screaming  “aiuto!” (help!) from a distant shore. Trust me.