Italy has many little parts that fly under the radar, if only because they don’t make up the big three: Rome, Italy, Florence.
Lake Tenno (Lago di Tenno) falls into that category.
There’s a good chance when you hear the word “lake” and “Italy,” you think of Lake Como. And when it’s known as George Clooney’s personal playground, of course you’ve heard of the celebrity-littered getaway.
No, Lake Tenno is different and much closer to what can only be defined as a hidden gem.
Tucked against the base of Monte Misone, Lake Tenno is the most translucent lake in Italy. Only adding to its beauty is the fact that the lakeshore is free of any buildings. Oh, and the fact that it’s not accessible by car.
That’s right. Part of what gives Lake Tenno provides an atmosphere of complete relaxation is the dense forest surrounding it, and the staircase that leads a path down to the shoreline.
A quiet escape, Lake Tenno has activities for all: swimming, hiking, sunbathing, and waterfall watching nearby.
This perfect little paradise can be found in Trentino; if Trentino sounds familiar, that’s because it’s home to the Dolomites. But while the Dolomites sit tall and menacing, the mountains and forest around Lake Tenno are more calming.
So why focus on Lake Tenno, the sixth-largest lake in Trentino? Why not Lake Garda (the biggest, which we’ll get to below) or Torbole (the surfers’ hot spot)?
Quite simply because it’s one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.
Whether on your way in or out, plan for a quick trip to the nearby medieval village Canale di Tenno. A historical town with traditional houses and narrow streets, its 12th Century castle is a must-see. Built to overlook the ancient village of Frapporta and the church of San Lorenzo, Canale di Tenno gives you an intimate look at Romanic art in the Trentino region.
Now, about that waterfall.
The Cascate del Varone waterfall is a quick trip from Lake Tenno and falls from a height of nearly 330 ft. (100 meters) above. Sourced from the River Magnone (which runs down to Lake Garda), its waters are fed by underground leakage from – you guessed it, Lake Tenno.
While stunning, this is a more trafficked area than Lake Tenno so be prepared for more crowds and paid access to nature.
Also nearby (in the opposite direction of Cascate del Varone) is Riva del Garda, as mentioned above.
Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) could not be more different than Lake Tenno; the largest lake in Italy, this iconic waterscape was formed by glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Proof of its size lies in the number of islands scattered throughout its waters: at least five, many with rich histories.
Lake Garda / PC: @grandhotelriva
Some of Lake Garda’s notable islands include: Isola del Garda (St. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery here in 1220), Isola San Biago (Island of the Rabbits), San Felice del Benaco, Isola di Sogno, and Isola di Trimelone.
Aptly named, Lake Garda comes from the Germanic word warda, meaning “place of observation” (or “place of guard,” but observation sounds more fitting).
But back to the point.
Lake Tenno is nothing short of a spectacular experience.
Off the beaten path (part of its initial appeal), this is quite simply the mountain lake escape you didn’t know you needed. Though not normally higher on travelers’ hit list, don’t forget all Trentino has to offer in addition to Lake Tenno.
Any plans to visit here on your tour of Italy should be a Northern-centric trip (think Milan and Venice). Say goodbye to Rome, Amalfi Coast, and Sicily this time around – you won’t be regret it.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.
- Accommodations: stay in Riva del Garda, where hotels and B&Bs start at $126
- Currency: the Euro; code is EUR and the currency symbol is €
- Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 0.93 EUR
- Location: Ville de Monte, Tenno, Italy
- Getting there: drive 10 minutes from Riva del Garda via the regional road (in the direction Tenno), or hop on a bus from Riva del Garda to Tenno
(Featured image PC: @benattilorenzo)