Tourists have priority: while the water level on Lake Garda is falling unabated due to the drought in Italy, the locals are suffering. The mood is changing in some places.
Munich/Bardolino/Sirmione – There are countless anecdotes about how the Tedeschi, the Germans, meet the Italian locals on Lake Garda, the Popolazione Locale. One comes from Desenzano on the southern bank. Early summer 2022. A group of young men from Munich indulge in the Dolce Vita in the form of a round of Aperol Spritz on the terrace of their holiday apartment. The owner of the property, Matteo, a typical Italian, comes in laughing.
Holidays on Lake Garda: full swimming pools despite the drought in northern Italy
“You Germans, you always drink Aperol,” he says with a grin: “We Italians much prefer to drink Campari Spritz. We call the drink Pirlo. Like the soccer player Andrea Pirlo, you Germans still know him, don’t you?” With a big grin on his face and his toolbox in his hand, Matteo walks to work. Of course, the people of Munich knew Pirlo. The football strategist who led Italy to a 2-0 victory over Germany in the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Dortmund – and finally to the world championship title in Berlin.
This footballing dig ended in a friendly atmosphere, but this midsummer on Lake Garda there are rumblings in some places because of the Tedeschi. Because: Tourists obviously have priority on the northern Italian lake between Trento, Lombardy and Veneto. Despite the drought and water shortage in northern Italy, the swimming pools in the hotels and holiday resorts are full, the fountains in the picturesque old towns are running and the activity in “Canevaworld”, the large water park between Lazise and Peschiera del Garda, continues unabated.
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It’s a waste of water beyond compare considering the needs of many locals struggling with the drought for economic reasons. “We have to protect our shipping and the fish and at the same time ensure that the farmers around the lake can still irrigate their crops in August,” explained Pierlucio Ceresa, Managing Director of the Garda Municipal Association recently. He criticized the increased flow of 30 cubic meters per second via Peschiera del Garda and the Mincio into the river Po. You have to be careful “that Lake Garda doesn’t get sick after the Po”.
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At that time, in early August, Lake Garda had just 60 percent of its possible water volume. According to the authorities, the water level was already a meter below the usual average at the time. In Sirmione, the beaches on Jamaica Beach – popular with holidaymakers from Bavaria and Munich – were completely exposed. The well-known (and actually comfortable) stone slabs protruded far into the lake.
This has not changed until this Friday, August 19th. Even if it finally rained again that day between Sirmione and Bardolino (which is also popular with Bavarian holidaymakers). And in the same week there was even a storm with heavy rain in Tuscany in the south of Italy.
Speaking of Bardolino: The small town on the eastern shore of Lake Garda with a little more than 7000 inhabitants is not only known for its restaurants with German beer but also for its local wine. As is the town of Lugana on the south bank. It is now openly communicated that when watering the vast vineyards and fields in the region, water is saved while the pools remain filled. It takes an average of 950 liters of water to produce a bottle of wine. Can the quality standards still be met in this way?
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Because of the obvious privileges for holidaymakers in Italy, the mood is changing in some places – although many locals make a living from tourism. An example: Since August 1st, there has been a ban on cars and bicycles in the picturesque streets of Sirmione due to the unchecked rush of holidaymakers. There were 1.4 million overnight stays in 2019 before the Corona pandemic – only in Sirmione. It is already becoming apparent that the figure of 2022 will be exceeded. Sirmione has only 8000 inhabitants – and because of its location a limited infrastructure.
The youth from here are leaving because everything is very limited.
According to Focus Online , a local complained: “The youth from here are leaving because everything is very limited. There is no parking lot and you can only drive into the center by car within a certain time. There is also no supermarket.” Matteo from Desenzano was a bit more diplomatic. What he probably didn’t know at the time: On Tuesday (August 17), Lake Garda reached its lowest water level in 15 years. Football saint Andrea Pirlo doesn’t help anymore. (pm)