Anciently the Latin poet Catullus, a native of Verona, sang the beauties of Lake Garda, or Benaco, and the slightly younger Virgilio, a native of nearby Mantua, compared it to a sea. And truly the largest lake basin in Italy looks like a fragment of the Mediterranean nestled between the pre-Alpine mountains to the north and soft morainic hills to the south. Its influence mitigates the climate, and allows lemons and olive trees to thrive in unexpected latitudes. The landscape acquires a joyful, pleasant splendor. Along the banks are scattered elegant towns, stately villas, medieval castles, spas that have been frequented for at least two thousand years. A finer, more perfect little Italy inside Italy.