Malcesine is on the east coast of Lake Garda, at the feet of Monte Baldo.
The town is nestled on the shores of one of the narrowest parts of the Lake where is similar to a Fjord and with the mountain slopes rising steeply behind it. Malcesine spreads over 68 km² and includes the hamlets of Cassone and Navene. Malcesine, like many other Lake Garda towns, is very old and has its origins in prehistory: archaelogical digs have discovered many pile-built lake dwellings.
Over the course of centuries, this area has been subject to many invasions and migrations of people from northern Europe. The first thing you will notice wandering around Malcesine is the Scaligero Castle with its high towers rising from the rocky cliffs below. The view of the town from the top of the tower is spectacular. In the historic centre of town you will also find: the Captain’s Palace in gothic-venetian style with its murals and small garden overhanging the lake; the port and the beautiful lake-side walk.
The Monte Baldo chain of mountains, stretching for about 40km from north east to south west, has a surface area of approximately 320 km and a height ranging between 65m and the peak of Valdritta at 2218m being it highest point. The two mountainsides lining the lakeshore have very different aspects: that on the western side is steep with cliffs, sheer faces, hidden crags and gulleys and sparse vegetation; the eastern slopes are much less rocky and have more abundant vegetation. If you leave from the lakeside and head towards the top of Monte Baldo you will soon notice the changes in climate and vegetation: lower down there is an evergreen belt next to the Lake with typical mediterranean plants encouraged by a mild climate – olives, grapes, oleander, citrus plants, lavendar; towards 400m asl woods of oak and chestnut begin, followed by, up to 800m, ash trees and pine. Above 1000m beech forests start with many ancient trees visible and this is added to above 1600m by the birch woods. The variety of vegetation on Monte Baldo is the reason why it is often referred to as “the garden of Europe”.
The fauna of Monte Baldo are also special: you can find 960 different types of butterflies on the mountain and this is only one of many species of insect. If you are lucky, you may also see marmots, golden eagles, goats, chamois, squirrels and hares. This rich presence of animals is due to the unique, varied and somewhat isolated nature of the Monte Baldo range; variety that is contrasted and reflected in the changing aspects of the Lake – its waters are at once deep blue and emerald green near the coast, its mountains are covered in all shades of green vegetation and both are enhanced by the sun and its reflection off the water.
THE MONTE BALDO CABLE CAR
A futuristic Cable Car operates on the slopes of Monte Baldo from Malcesine to Tratto Spino where the views cover the whole lake from North to South. The Cable Car carries you first to the S. Michele station at 600 m.a.s.l. and then, in a gently rotating cabin designed to give all it occupants a 360º view, up to the mountain peak at 1780 m.a.s.l. During the winter months there is a small but lovely ski resort here allowing skiers and snowboarders to enjoy their sports to a backdrop of breathtaking views, and, for the rest of the year, Monte Baldo serves as a departure point for parascenders, walkers and mountain bikers alike.