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Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

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Helsinki, Finland
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Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Don't want to ruin people's expectations, but how do you consider food in Bardolino restaurants compared to food in other parts of Italy? The reason I am askin is that we recently returned from our trip, and were very dissappointed as far as food goes. Food was one of the reasons we chose to have a holiday in Italy also this year. We are not too picky "food snobs", but can't recall having a very good meal in Bardolino, even though we dined out every night of the week and had a couple of lunches when we were not on day trips. We tried restaurants in different parts of old town and also in Cisano. Not only were we dissappointed with the food, but sometimes the service was just ridiculous. In fact, we were left without our main courses twice, two nights in a row!

My explanation is that since most people dining in Bardolino are tourists, the restaurants do not have ambition to do their best. They know that tourists will come only once, so there is no point trying. The most ridiculous service we had was at Corte San Luca. That was clearly a tourist trap with too few members of staff. My husband ordered Italian beer - got German. I ordered Prosecco - which came in a jug. Well that was just the beginning. We were with our 2-year-old boy, and not prepared to wait for our main course for hours. Yes, hours. The starters came, and the pace setting for the main course came. But the food never did. We waited and waited, then informed our waiter. He promised the food would come in 5 mins. After half an hour we asked again. Again, it was supposed to come "in 5-10 minutes". Another half an hour, and our child was too tired to wait. We told the staff that unless the food was coming, we would go. Waited for 15 minutes and decided to pay for the drinks and Caprese and leave hungry. No apologies from the staff, no discount. Leaving hungry and having paid 50 euros for drinks and a few slices of tomato and mozzarella was money badly spent.

The next night, we decided to walk to Cisano to Voga. Figured that less tourists there would mean at least that we would get our food. Again, we waited for our drinks and starters for ages. We also observed the same happening in other tables. Our neighbours asked after their rose - which was after 15 minutes delivered to us. And our drinks went to another table. Finally we got our drinks, but starters never came. According to the waiter, our table had only ordered drinks, no food. Not a nice think to find out after waiting for an hour. The starters finally arrived, but the thick chunks of meat did and rucola gone bad did not resemble carpaccio. People in other tables had given up, and I went to the bar to pay for the starters and drinks. There was already a long que waiting to do the same. Did not even have a chance to pay the bill as the main waiter just told me that we did not have to pay for it. That was fair - at least this place had a sence of pride.

During our week in Italy, we had one very good meal in Bellagio, Como, one fairly good in Como town and an ok pizza surprisingly in a beach bar type of low key place in Bardolino. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I wish we did not have such high expectations. In our previous trips in Tuscany, Liguria and Sicily the food was always at least ok, mostly just wonderfull.

Old Bardolino was beautiful, but full of mainly German tourists. I have nothing against Germans, in fact have very nice German colleagues at work. But when you come to Italy, you kind of expect the life to be more Italian or at least more international. Also, Bardolino wasn't exactly good for a beach vacation. Did not bother us, as we mainly did daytrips, but just to let you know that we enjoyed beaches in Sirmione and Malcesine much more. Lazise was the same. The town has one of the only sandy beaches in Garda, but partly reserved to a campsite, no services, narrow and during our visit very crowded.

Sorry, if I am too negative. However, there is one place I really recommed: Bio Suites Pacinotti apartments. Lovely, new apartments and nice, quiet pool. Very friendly service!

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1. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Too bad about the restaurant problems. Maybe others will have similar experiences to share.

Some of my best friends are Germans also, but Italy can't seem to keep them out (again), or the Fins either - I only want to see Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobrigida - my wife Marcello Mastroianni (well too late for him)

Edinburgh, Scotland
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for Garda, Lake Garda
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2. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Hi, sorry to hear you had so many bad dining experiences! How unlucky to have had a whole week of poor service and disappointing meals - it really is very unusual.

In the TA ratings the Corte San Luca is currently #62 out of 68 restaurants in Bardolino, so it's a pity you didn't have a chance to read the reviews before choosing to eat there. I believe it used to be much higher but the reviews for the last year or so have been very mixed.

As for the number of German visitors, Lake Garda is (obviously) a short drive from Austria and Germany. In fact the north of the lake used to belong to Austria and there is still a strong Austrian influence in that area. The lake also attracts a great many visitors from Scandinavia (and I've met a lot of Finnish people over the many years I've been going to Lake Garda!) as the flights are short and relatively inexpensive. It's very popular too with British people and I hear as many British voices as German when I am there. Unfortunately, we can't travel to stunningly beautiful but easily accessible places and expect to be the only foreign visitors. :)

"Also, Bardolino wasn't exactly good for a beach vacation."

Do you mind if I ask why you chose Lake Garda? From reading your other posts you were looking for a beach location. Lake Garda isn't known for its sandy beaches - the beaches are mostly shingle with the exception of the small sandy beach in Lazise and one in Maderno on the western shore. In my opinion, the best "beach" area is in Riva at the north of the lake. It has the longest and widest expanse of shingle beach on the lake. It has roped-off areas for children, a lifeguard on duty and there are also lots of grassy areas for a toddler to run around.

Unfortunately, everywhere in July is crowded.

Was there anywhere/anything that you particularly liked?

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3. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Things may of changed , but just a few years ago, we had mant a good meal in Bardolino, . loved everything about thhe place,

Edited: 21 July 2013, 15:31
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4. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Lake Garda has always been a favourite with German tourists whereas Como has always seen more British and American tourists. It would have been a good idea to ask the apartment owners where to eat as locals know where to stay away from. We usually stay in Sirmione or Desenzano so can't comment on restaurants in Bardolino but I'm really sorry you had such a negative experience.

Helsinki, Finland
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5. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

"Was there anywhere/anything that you particularly liked?"

Yes, we loved lake Como, especially Bellagio, and Malcesine and Sirmione. We also did a daytrip to Verona, which was beautiful. We were not looking for a beach holiday, but I'm surprised how people say that Bardolino has one of the nicest beaches in Lake Garda.

"The lake also attracts a great many visitors from Scandinavia (and I've met a lot of Finnish people over the many years I've been going to Lake Garda!) as the flights are short and relatively inexpensive." Not sure about this. The flight time is 3 hours and the rate is not exactly cheap. Just to correct, if you got me wrong: I have nothing against Germans, but it just felt very WEIRD to hear only German (did not hear any other languages, someone spoke Frech at the apartment pool, and that was it), to have menus with Tirolian pizza and always get service in German. But I do understand this: If I was living in Germany and could drive to Garda in hours, I would definitely do so. This is what has happened to Tallinn: a large majority of tourists are Finns, though I assume the share of Germans is a lot higher in Garda.

It seems that this forum is only open for positive experiences and reviews. When choosing our destination I tried to get an overview of Lake Garda towns, but then the main message was that Bardolino is "a safe bet" for first timers in Garda. In my opinion, it was less sophisticated than Como, Malcesine or Sirmione with a lot of campsites in the best position in the waterfront. The old town was pretty, but very touristy. Did not see any locals there. And yes, Sirmione was also very busy and touristy, but would not consider Bardolino any more genuine. Maybe this was just in the peak season. I would assume that the athmosphere is very different in spring and autumn and you can really enjoy some peace and quietness in the lovely lake.

I'm again sorry if my comment offends someone. But I myself appreciate honest comments - both positive and negative. What's the use of this forum otherwise?

Glasgow, United...
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6. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

I have been to Bardolino four times and have always had excellent meals and service. My sister and brother in law had been previously so we usually stick to the same restaurants. We have enjoyed the below and would recommend to anyone visiting Bardolino.

La Formica

Agli Oleandre

Taverna da Memo

Cristallo - for pizzas, ice cream and drinks

torri del benaco
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7. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Sorry you had such a bad experience on "my" Lake Garda. I admit that on Lake Garda too many restaurants are not adequate and offer a kitchen for "mass" tourists that do not have high expectations for the food. Waiters are often non-professional (just enrolled for Summer), and unfortunately the problems you had with the service are sometimes not so unusual. But in the center of Bardolino you can find one of the best restaurants on Lake Garda: Il Giardino delle Esperidi, a small place with an original cuisine, a wonderful wine list (but no Prosecco) and a charming location and service (about 40 euros without wines). It's near to La Formica, suggested by AMF55 here above (you can have a very good pizza at La Formica, but I like very much their salads too). Taverna da Memo, equally suggested by AMF55 , is a good "trattoria".

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8. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

I am surprised, as we have generally always had good experiences esp with Corte San Luca - which i recall as being the restuarant in the square as we call it!

Always find the waiters to be very friendly and bring the childrens food quickly.

generally always have dinner at our hotel (Du Lac), so lunch is the only meal we eat out, and just take somewhere whereever we happen to be, whether in a town, or at theme park etc!

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9. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Bardolino does not live up to expectations...

Situated on the South-East coast of Lake Garda, and being one of the areas best known tourist towns, Bardolino should be delightful, but it could also become a nightmare...

It really depends on your situation...

Package Holidays could succumb to similar bad experiences as Independent travellers like us.

I visited the town July this year (2013) with my wife and another UK couple, and we had decided that we were going to experience the freedom and outdoors on a camping Holiday. We have some of the latest up-market kit, and picked a reasonable looking site from the Internet...

So to Problem 1: The site we chose had no space suitable to erect tents available - save a plot with a manhole cover in the middle of it...so we decided to go to another one nearby... similar situation, but no pool or facilities...A Third site was also full of Campervans and fixed chalet-style huts, and a Fourth was split across a main road, although it was linked by a tunnel...which meant quite a long walk for facilities, and very small plots.

We eventually had to settle for campsite 5...Camping Europa.

On the plus side, it was very close to the lake, and the walkway into the centre of town, and it is probably the closest site to town. It however does not have a pool, and despite having upwards of a hundred sites, the owner/reception declared that they were a 'Small' concern.

Problem 2: We decided to check on the fifth day that our Credit cards were ok to pay the bill at the end of an eleven night planned stay...NOPE? what do you mean? Well only CASH is acceptable... Wot? even if you booked online in advance using a 'CREDIT CARD' to pay? you have to be joking right?

So we decided to go to one of the FIVE banks in town and change some currency to cover it...YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING RIGHT? a 'BANK' that does not exchange currency? Not impressed, we ventured to the next one...and the next... All five...

To make matters worse, BARDOLINO has NO tourist currency exchange office at all.

We were very annoyed (Understated by a mile) to say the least. the day before, we ventured some 75 Kilometres to a small village called Folgaria in the Mountains (A wonderful Ski Resort) and checked with the central bank, where we would have had no problem at all...except we had left our passports back at base...so no problems in the hills then...

To cut the story, and the stay in Bardolino short, we decided to pay the cash with what we had, and depart to a more friendly town in the Alps ...Well we had already been soaked and windswept twice in that week, and the forecast was grim to say the least. July, and the hottest day had reached just 23degrees...not really impressed at all...

I know that a lot of people just love that area, and the scenery etc. is excellent, but my impression is that, as in Venice, if you are not of local origin, then you are there as a cash cow to be fleeced at every opportunity...

Other European countries, and even Italian destinations do not have such outrageous practices, and if you love it there, well, the place may just live without me and mine there...Shame really, but what could have been a Great holiday, was spoilt by Weather, Italian campsite company and many Banks.

We did however find one decent bar/People-watching cafe in Bardolino, so read my other reviews to get the lowdown on that. But don't expect much entertainment in the town...it doesn't live up to its reputation.

Wakefield, United...
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for Lake Garda, Lake Garda, Nago
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10. Re: Is food in Bardolino typically this bad?

Sorry that you had bad experiences in Bardolino but you can't really blame the town itself for your misfortunes at the campsites. I don't know about the campsites but there are certainly a lot of smaller self-catering establishments that require payment in cash, but it is always pointed out at the time of booking.

There is actually a currency exchange shop in the town of Garda but that is the only one I have seen around the lake. Generally they are not very common in Italy but you would have had no problems getting cash from ATM's with a Debit Card.

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