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Lake Garda (Italian: Lago di Garda or Lago Benaco) is the largest lake in Italy. It is a popular holiday location and is located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last Ice Age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona (to the south-east), Brescia (south-west), and Trentino (north).

The northern part of the lake is narrower, surrounded by mountains, the majority of which belong to the Gruppo del Baldo. The phallic shape is typical of a moraine valley, probably having been formed under the action of a Paleolithic glacier. Although traces of the glacier’s actions are evident today, in more recent years it has been hypothesised that the glacier occupied a previously existing depression, created by stream erosion 5 to 6 million years ago.

The lake has numerous small islands and five main ones, the largest being Isola del Garda. Nearby to the south is Isola San Biagio, also known as the Isola dei Conigli (“Island of the Rabbits”). Both are offshore of San Felice del Benaco, on the west side. The three other main islands are Isola dell’Olivo, Isola di Sogno, and Isola di Trimelone, all farther north near the east side. The main tributary is the Sarca River, while the only outlet is the Mincio River.

If the water level of the Adige river is too high, excess water is diverted to the lake through the Mori-Torbole tunnel.

The ancient fortified town of Sirmione, located on the south of the lake, is one particularly popular destination, home to the Virgilio & Catullo Spa Complexes, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, fashion stores and a market. The picturesque Scaliger castle dates from the 13th century. The Roman poet Catullus had a villa here, and visitors can see a ruined Roman spa named the Grotte di Catullo (Grotto of Catullus) although there is no evidence linking him to this particular building. The sulfur springs at the tip of the peninsula have a reputation for healing catarrhal conditions, particularly those involving the ear. Nearby, there is Gardaland, one of the most famous theme parks in Italy.

The particularly mild climate favours the growth of some Mediterranean plants, including the olive tree. Citrus trees can also be found, which are extremely rare at this latitude (46 North). This greatly favored the development of tourism since the end of the second world war. In ancient times, poets like Catulle wrote about the “Lacus benacus” (the beneficial lake), with its mild climate vivified by the winds. With subtropical characteristics.

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