As all good guide books tell you, Salo has the longest promenade on Lake Garda and possibly in the whole of Italy. Apparently it was rocked by an earthquake many years ago. The planners at that time had incredible foresight and not only rebuilt Salo, but also added a promenade. Another piece of historical information is that Mussolini made Salo the capital of the Fascist Social Republic which for a time was effectively the nominal capital of Italy. But you won’t find much evidence of that era while sipping a Latte Macchiato at a lakeside cafe! It is also claimed that Gasparo da Salo, the inventor of the violin was born here in 1540.
Salo is located on the West Bank of the lake. Getting there is pretty straightforward by road and involves a very picturesque descent, similar to driving into Monte Carlo in places with some lovely views of the town. A lot of people choose to arrive at a more leisurely pace by ferry. Also, there is a regular bus service.
Salo has pretty much everything you would want for a lakeside holiday starting with a very nice mild climate….and a lake! Its long wide, pedestrian promenade has some lovely views of the lake, punctuated by bobbing yachts and motorboats which just add to the character and color of the scenery. All along the leafy promenade are cafes, restaurants, hotels, and occasional shops, interspersed with some unexpectedly attractive piazzas.
Parking is a little tricky in Salo sometimes and you have to pay for that, but other than that, once you have parked, Salo is a real treat. Starting at the South end of the shoreline you have the marina area with the boats all neatly parked in rows and a very nice wooden walkway over the inlet. Walking further South there are various floral offerings, as well as statues, small streams, and some very attractive buildings leading to the main promenade. As we mentioned above, this is 100% tourism, but still has an air of Italian elegance about it, with Italians always managing to add to the elegance by managing to look cool even in the height of summer! The promenade opens out to the Piazza Dal Vittoria, which is also where the ferry arrives. This is a lovely piazza with restaurants, cafes, shops, and hotels.
Piazza Del Vittoria is a great spot to start looking at the shops, which are surprisingly high quality or unsurprising when you bear in mind that Salo is regularly at the top of the Italian Municipalities classified by income. In other words, it is a wealthy town in its own right, which in itself enables a good selection of quality stores to develop. Clothing is the main purchase in Salo, with a wide choice of everything from footwear to headwear, and most at reasonable prices and good service. They actually seem to like tourists in Salo, unlike so many towns that depend upon tourism. Designer labels and just good quality items abound. But not just clothes, you can also buy anything like for jewelry for example.
The main shopping street runs parallel to the promenade and ends with a large clock at the ancient city gate Torre dell’ Orologio. But don’t stop there as there are many more interesting shops to explore beyond the gate and also a plethora of real estate vendors.