Looking over the small lake-side town, this mediaeval castle is one of the highlights of Padenghe-sul-Garda and the surrounding area.
Constructed at the end of the ninth century on a Roman fort, the original outer stone walls still remain, along with three of the four towers. Part of the drawbridge also still stands, though a cobbled pathway now replaces it as the entrance through the arched gateway.
One of the most unique attractions tourists find in Padenghe castle is through this gateway: several rows of quaint, terraced houses, all intricately decorated with flowered windowsills and individually crafted house signs, as though taken from a film set. The ambience also matches that of an abandoned film set: it is curious how tranquil the place feels considering the apparent number of inhabitants, yet it also seems likely that several houses profit from their castello address by turning into B and Bs when the season strikes – something to take note of if you’re looking for a place to stay in this area.
As well as admiring the outside of complete strangers houses, the inside of the castle also offers a walk up the castle walls by the front tower, allowing an almost birdseye view that stretches from Padenghe to the opposing towns on the East side of the lake. Unfortunately, this particular section has recently been under construction, blocking visitors’ access. But there’s no need for disappointment – the views just outside the entrance alone make the trip worth it.
Speaking of trips, why not make this into a day – or at least an afternoon – one? If you are staying in one of the nearby villages, leave the car behind and take the scenic route. Moniga and Desenzano are just a couple of kilometres either side of Padenghe, and there are several countryside, woodland, and lake-view paths connecting them. The easiest to follow is the cycle path – signposted in brown, it goes from Desenzano to Salò, passing through enough woodland and fields to make it an adventure, and enough inhabited areas to reassure you that you’re not entirely lost. Be prepared for a few inclines – the castle is looking over the town, after all.
If the weather is not in your favour, however, or you left your walking boots behind, parking is conveniently located at the castle entrance. Just follow the signs for “castello” from Padenghe centre, and take ten steps from your car to see the view of your week / month (depending on how long you’re staying and what else you’re seeing on Lake Garda – you may have understood there’s a fair few breathtaking sights in the area).
For being both free and convenient, with the possibility of a quick stop or an afternoon trip, there is very little to fault with Padenghe castle. Bring your camera and relax on the perfectly placed benches outside the entrance to watch over just one example of the exquisite Garda Lake landscape.