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Hidden Treasures: To Torbole in Goethe's footsteps

Hiking trail · Lake Garda
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  • The little harbour in Torbole
    / The little harbour in Torbole
    Photo: D. Lira (Archivio Trentino Marketing), Garda Trentino
  • / Following Goethe's footsteps with prof. Farina
    Photo: Mauro Andreozzi, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 1
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 2
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 3
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 4
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 5
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 6
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 7
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 8
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 9
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 10
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 11
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
  • / Goethe - Italienische Reise 12
    Photo: Valentina Bellotti, Garda Trentino
m 400 300 200 100 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 km

A literary stroll which follows in the footsteps of the great German poet Goethe from Nago to Torbole, during his celebrated Italian tour (1786 - 1788).

2.4 km
0:46 h
62 m
226 m

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, already famous as the author of  “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and a minister of Weimar, visited Italy between 1786 and 1787, in search of inspiration in the home of classical writers, art and culture. And he could hardly resist a visit to Lake Garda, praised as “a magnificent product of nature” after the visits of other important figures of European culture such as the French philosopher Michel Eyquem de Montaigne  (1780) or the earlier visit of Albrecht Dürer (1495). 

This literary stroll follows in the footsteps of Goethe who arrived in Torbole on the evening of 12th September 1786, going down to Nago on foot along the historic Santa Lucia road, at the time the only way of getting to Lake Garda from the Adige Valley.

Each stage is accompanied by quotations with notes on the original text of Goethe's “Italian Journey” (see gallery).

Author’s recommendation

This trail has some truly spectacular views so don't forget to take your camera! User
Valentina Bellotti
Updated: February 18, 2020

Highest point
227 m
Lowest point
63 m
Best time of year

Safety information

The Hidden Treasures itineraries were designed in order to give visitors a chance to get to know places in Garda Trentino that are off the beaten track. For this reason, the signposting is not always in the same style and sometimes missing altogether. We therefore recommend you to take a good map with you on these excursions. And then bear in mind your general reference points: Lake Garda = South, Monte Stivo = East, Rocchetta = West, Arco Castle = North.

The telephone number for the emergency services is 112.

The information on this chart is subject to inevitable variations, so this means that none of the indications are absolute. It is not entirely possible to avoid giving inexact or imprecise information, given how quickly environmental and weather conditions can change. For this reason we decline any responsibility for changes which the user may encounter. In any case,  the hiker is advised to check the conditions of the places, environment and weather before setting out.


This excursion is quite simple and presents no particular difficulty. However, we still recommend you to wear suitable footwear, a hat, sun screen and sunglasses. And be sure to bring water!

Tips, hints and links

  • During the summer season, Garda Trentino offers the tour “By Land and Water with J.W. Goethe”, in collaboration with Prof. Franco Farina, a philologist and performer, officially recognised by the Goethe Society in Weimar. For information and bookings:
  • For further information on routes, activities, events and accommodation at lake Garda:  APT Garda Trentino, Tel. +39 0464 554444 -


Nago (226 m)
45.876326, 10.889720
32T 646650 5082043


Torbole - Lake promenade

Turn-by-turn directions

Start from via Sighele, the entrance to the historic centre of Nago. Head down via San Vigilio to Piazza Gazzoletti and continue on Strada Vecchia and then the ancient Via di Santa Lucia, the historic medieval road which leads through the olive groves towards Torbole. At the end of this road, when you come to the plaque commemorating the exploits of the Venetians in 1439 (“Galeas per Montes”, the transport of a small fleet of ships to Torbole over land), cross the public gardens and head up around the first bend of via Europa to the Belvedere viewing point (the ruins of an ancient tower, the “castle” of Torbole). Head down the adjacent steps which lead from via Europa to via Don Gioppi, then on to via Matteotti and immediately turn left in the direction of Piazza Goethe: this is the central square of Torbole where the author spent the night in the house which now bears the commemorative plaque, above “Goethe's fountain”.

Cross the street in the direction of the little harbour and you can imagine Goethe's boat as it sailed away in the first light towards Malcesine. Following in his footsteps, head down the lake shore as far as the landing stage to bid farewell to the poet and see the bust of him sculpted by the local Fernando Cian which is located in piazza Alpini.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

Public transport friendly

The towns in Garda Trentino - Riva del Garda, Torbole sul Garda, Nago and Arco – are connected by a number of urban and intercity bus lines which will take you to the starting point of the trail.

Nago can be reached by the number 332 bus from Arco, Riva del Garda and Rovereto, and the urban bus number 3 from Riva del Garda, Torbole and Arco.

For up-to-the-minute information on timetables and routes:

Getting there

Getting to northern lake Garda / Garda Trentino: 


The car park “al Coel” in Nago, which is accessed from the roundabout, is free of charge all year round.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Author’s map recommendations

  • The “Hidden Treasures” map is available free of charge in the tourist information offices in Riva del Garda, Arco and Torbole sul Garda

Book recommendations for this region:

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Recommended maps for this region:

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2.4 km
62 m
226 m
Public transport friendly Scenic Cultural/historical value Refreshment stops available Family friendly


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