Climbing the Castello di Arco

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Ciao from bella Italia! It is so beautiful and warm here. This is my first Italian spring, so even though I’ve been here many times it’s a whole new experience. The flora are different, the air smells fresher, and the clouds sit low in between the green mountains in the evenings. One sunny day this week, we made a day trip out to Arco, a beautiful city down by Lago di Garda and home to a magnificent castle ruin. When we were driving up to it we thought there was no way we’d be able to walk all the way up because it sits atop a steep hill, but an hour later there we stood, taking in the views of the entire valley from above.

The hike began in the lower streets nestled between houses in Arco, and took us up to older walkways used for centuries to get up to the castle. As we walked, the pathways got steeper and the city smaller beneath us. It’s a beautiful hike, dotted with poppies, giant aloe plants, and trees with smooth wind-weathered bark leading up to the base of the castle.

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Castello di Arco was once a behemoth of a palace with 120 individual rooms. Built in the 12th century, it watched over the region under many different owners until 1982, when it was returned to the region as a historic site and opened to the public. Today it has been reduced to ruins, but is still one of the better-kept ruins around this region. Guests can enjoy a drink on the vast lawn overlooking the valley, or hike up a set of ancient marble stairs to the highest tower, which has vantage points that allowed sentries to keep watch for miles in the distance on all three exposed sides of the castle. It was a very windy day, but we had come so far and couldn’t resist going up to the top.

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If only these ruins could talk. Having been around for almost a millennium, they’ve stood through so many of the world’s changes, changes that seem so important to mankind in the moment but that, when juxtaposed against the permanence of the mountains, seem so trivial. There’s so much history here in Italy, it’s such an incredible place.

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