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Lake Garda (Italian: ''Lago di Garda'' or ''Benaco'') is the largest lake in Italy. It is located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Venice and Milan. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last ice age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona (to the southeast), Brescia (southwest), and Trento (north). Being easily accessible from the north via the Brenner pass, the lake is a major tourist destination, including a number of exclusive hotels and resorts along its shore.
The northern part of the lake is narrower, surrounded by mountains, the majority of which belong to the Gruppo del Baldo. The shape is typical of a moraine valley, probably having been formed under the action of a Paleolithic glacier. Although traces of the glacier's actions are evident today, in more recent years it has been hypothesized that the glacier occupied a previously existing depression, created by stream erosion 5 to 6 million years ago.
The lake has numerous small islands and five main ones, the largest being Isola del Garda. Nearby to the south is Isola San Biagio, also known as the Isola dei Conigli ("Island of the Rabbits"). Both are offshore of San Felice del Benaco, on the west side. The three other main islands are Isola dell'Olivo, Isola di Sogno, and Isola di Trimelone, all further north near the east side. The main tributary is the Sarca River, while the only emissary is the Mincio River.
Localities and sights
The ancient fortified town of Sirmione, located on the south of the lake, is one particularly popular destination, home to the Virgilio & Catullo Spa Complexes, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, fashion stores and a market. The picturesque Scaliger castle dates from the 13th century. The Roman poet Catullus had a villa here, and visitors can see a ruined Roman spa named the Grotte di Catullo (Grotto of Catullus) although there is no evidence linking him to this particular building. The sulfur springs at the tip of the peninsula have a reputation for the healing of catarrhal conditions, particularly those involving the ear. Nearby, there is Gardaland, one of the most famous theme parks in Italy.
Lake Garda from space.
View from Torbole over the water.
Wildlife include the "Carpione del Garda" or "Carpiù" (''Salmo carpio''), a species of salmonid living exclusively in the Garda and in some Swiss alpine lakes, usually caught in fine nets since it is a deep-water zooplankton eater (now [http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/19856/all classified as Critically Endangered]). Others species present are: