- Art & Culture
Lago di Garda: the shadow of D’Annunzio
This incredible town is home to the monument built by poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, the Vittoriale degli Italiani, in celebration of his life.
He retired to Gardone Riviera in 1921, where he bought the villa in Cargnacco, one
of the town’s districts. With collaboration from the young architect Gian Carlo
Maroni, he gradually extended the property, adding buildings, gardens and even an amphitheatre. In the house where he then lived until 1938, visitors can today walk among his furniture and books, discovering the secrets of a life that was decidedly out of the ordinary.
The Vittoriale is also home to a collection of mementos dating back to the early
twentieth century, from the aeroplane in which D’Annunzio flew over Vienna
during World War One to the torpedo ram he received as a gift from the Italian
Royal Navy in 1923.
A must-visit in Toscolano Maderno is the Valle delle Cartiere, eroded by the river
that in medieval times was used to power the factories producing the hand-made
paper that was famous all over Europe, as is explained in the small museum here,
open from April to September. Closed to traffic, visitors can walk, cycle and horse ride
through the valley, rediscovering the old paper trails or arriving at the dam on Lago Valvestino lake, splendid at sunset with its weeping willows and peaceful waters. On the way back around the lake, there is the Basilica of Sant'Andrea, with its extraordinary multi-colour façade in marble, the oldest part of which dates back to the year
Masterpieces in Salò
At the foot of Monte San Bartolomeo mountain, overlooking a wonderful gulf, Salò is a starting point for exploration of the romantic lakeside road, Lungolago Zanardelli. Twenty plaques mark the route, telling the history and the origin of the name of the town’s “contrade” or districts. Another must-see in the old town centre is the late Gothic
Cathedral, built between 1453 and 1502 on the site of an older building, with its majestic Rinascimento-style portal testifying to the passage from one architectural style to another. Inside are masterpieces by Romanino, Moretto, Zenon Veronese, Paolo Veneziano and decorations by Palma il Giovane. Not far away, the recently inaugurated Mu.Sa. is also worth a visit. Opened in 2015, this museum explains the town’s identity, its treasures and contribution the history of Italy.
Nestling between the lake and hill, Gardone Riviera enjoys a particularly favourable microclimate for plants, which have turned the town into a large botanical garden (not by chance referred to as the city-garden), where typicalGarda vegetation alternates with Central European, Mediterranean and sub-tropical species.
Visitors must see the Heller Garden, ten thousand square metres where three thousand botanical species from all over the world grow. From theHimalayan Alps, Mato Grosso, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Canada and Africa, they create a plethora of scent and colour, orchestrated by the multimedia artist André Heller, who has also inserted installations and sculptures by famous artists such as Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Auguste Rodin, and Joan Miró. Included on the list of Italy's most beautiful small towns, Gardone Riviera is home to countless buildingsand period villas.
One night wine
Chiaretto was one of the first Italian wines to obtain DOC (controlled designation of origin) recognition on 21 July 1967 after being invented in 1896 by Pompeo Molmenti, lawyer and history of art teacher at the Academy in Venice, who had a house and vineyards in Moniga del Garda. This rosé wine is made from black grapes with vinification in partial contact with the skins (just one night).
5 reasons for...
1. San Felice Benaco. The former pawn agency building (Monte di Pietà), with a five-arched portico and ashlar masonry pillars, currently hosts the local tourist office. The ruins of the Castle and Palazzo Rotingo (the present-day Town Hall) are also worth a visit.
2. Rocca di Manerba. Nature reserve, lake park, and archaeology museum, plus wineries
and oil producers offering a chance to taste typical local products. Everybody enjoys a visit to Rocca di Manerba on Garda.
3. Isola del Garda island. An extraordinary neo-Gothic Venetian villa surrounded by Italianand English-style gardens that slope down to the lake. Guided visits are organised for tourists by the Borghese Cavazza family, the owners of this property on Isola del Garda.
4. Romantica beach in Manerba. Ideal for families, Manerba beach is the biggest and best known in the area. It offers water sports and shady areas under the trees behind the lake. Between Porto Torchio and San Felice.
5. Oil from Garda. Olive trees are documented to have grown around the lake since Roman times and Catullus. The favourable Mediterranean micro-climate here (it is the
northernmost point in the world producing oil), makes it possible to produce a very fine, light, fruity oil rich in chlorophyll, tastyand harmonious.