Hear that? It’s not the roar of revving engines; it’s the babble of the river Mincio as it courses through Borghetto sul Mincio. Borghetto, as the name implies, is a small Italian town located 25 miles west of Verona and 10 miles from Lake Garda. No cars are allowed inside this burgh of cobblestone alleys and 13th century structures. Whatever is in the air causes you to feel in love at first sight.
The river Mincio courses through the middle of the town but doesn’t divide it. A short wooden bridge connects both halves like the outstretched hands of two lovers. A bridge fence is crowded with locks left behind by the innamorati in a symbolic act of locking their love forever. Further on, traffic is allowed on the Visconti bridge that spans over 2,000 feet between two fortresses. One night in June every year, the bridge is closed to traffic to host a dinner for 4,000 people in a Festa del Nodo d’Amore to celebrate the knot of love.
Borghetto’s river bank is framed by medieval structures with restored watermills that have preserved the burgh’s charm, elegance, and romance, making it a popular place for lovers and honeymooners. Il Borghetto Vacanze nei Mulini, one such renovated mill, is now a romantic inn. Many restaurants flank the river bank as well. My husband and I chose to have lunch at Lo Stappo because of the view of the calm river beside us and that of the castle on the opposite side. The specialty here is a type of stuffed pasta called casoncelli and it’s always homemade. Pair it with a glass of local white wine such as Lugana, a wine of old origin but almost unknown outside its small production area. Save your dessert for a scoop of ice cream from one of Borghetto’s gelaterie and work off the calories walking to the nearby bicycle rental. Discover new hamlets along the river’s bike path all the way to Peschiera del Garda, a walled town that Dante described as “fortress fair and strong” in Canto XX in his Inferno. The asphalt cycle path is almost entirely flat and well sign-posted. This is the most famous and most visited cycle route in Veneto, thanks to the numerous beauty spots offered by this territory.
Borghetto is such a little-known gem that even a few visitors can make it feel crowded. But don’t let tourists deter you from visiting! Just try to stay away in the months of July and August Borghetto—which is included in the list of “I Borghi Più Belli d’Italia” The Most Beautiful Towns of Italy