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Looking like a storybook illustration come to life, Malcesine is a small municipality in between the water and the mountains, carved into the base of Mount Baldo. In the center of town is Castello Scaligero, a 13th-century castle built on a rocky outcropping. With its distinct swallow-tail crenellations along its walls, the medieval castle has long been a symbol of the city. Malcesine has remained remarkably unchanged since medieval times: It’s still crisscrossed with narrow cobblestone streets and lined with buildings with brightly painted shutters and red geraniums cascading out of window boxes. Malcesine is also the base for a gondola ride that goes to the peak of Mount Baldo, with a stop at San Michele in the middle. The gondola has a rotating car that provides 360-degree views and at the top of the mountain, riders dismount to a stunning view of Lake Garda, Malcesine, and mountain itself.

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Living in Lake Garda

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, spanning three provinces: Trentino in the north, Brescia in the west, and Verona in the east. The story of the region begins in the Ice Ages, when glaciers moved through the land, creating a ring of alpine mountains before melting into cerulean lake waters. The result of these glacial paths is an environment that seems custom designed for the most enjoyable of lifestyles: Olives, grapes, and lemons flourish in the morainic soil; the temperate weather is livened up by mountain breezes; and natural beauty is everywhere. Many residents of Limone, a town on Lake Garda’s shores, turn out to have the “Limone gene,” guaranteeing long, healthy lives. While the rest of the world marvels at this genetic quirk, Lake Garda’s residents merely shrug—what else would you expect from a life spent in one of the most perfect places on Earth?