Vittoriale degli italiani – Gardone Riviera
Distance: 1 hour far from Garda. It can be reached by car or by boat.
A visit to the eclectic and monumental residence of Gabriele D’Annunzio is a fascinating experience. The Vittoriale is a complex of buildings, ways, squares, boats, gardens, streams, small lakes and an open-air theatre in Gardone Riviera, on the western shore of Lake Garda (province of Brescia), whose construction began in 1921. D’Annunzio has designed it with the architect Gian Carlo Maroni as an everlasting celebration of the “incomparable life” of the poet soldier and the undertakings of Italians during the First World War.
Information and opening times:
Grotte di Catullo – Sirmione
Hail, sweet Sirmio, and make cheer for your master. Rejoice ye too, waters of the Lydian lake. (Gaius Valerius Catullus)
Distance: 40 minutes far from Garda. It can be reached by car or by boat.
The archaeological site of Catullo’s Caves hosts the remains of one of the largest Roman residential villas in northern Italy. It is located in an extraordinary position, on a crag at the end of the Sirmione peninsula (province of Brescia) that overlooks the whole basin of Lake Garda. The villa is surrounded by a historic olive-yard with more than 1,500 trees (some of them are 400-500 years old). In 1999, the Museo archeologico of Sirmione was created in this archaeological area: in spite of its small size, it is an outstanding archaeological museum that exhibits precious finds coming both from the surroundings and other sites in the southern part of Lake Garda. This structure was named “Catullo’s Caves” in the Renaissance with reference to the collapsed rooms that had been covered by vegetation and were accessible just like natural holes.
Isola del Garda
The Isola del Garda is an island located in front of the western shore of Lake Garda (province of Brescia), just a few fathoms away from San Felice del Benaco. Today it fascinates with its outstanding villa in Venetian neo-Gothic style designed by the architect Luigi Rovelli at the beginning of the 20th century. The building is massive and harmonious, rich in remarkable architectonic details.
Terraces and gardens in Italian style lie at the villa’s foot and slope down to the lake. The lush vegetation all around includes plenty of local plants, rare aromatic herbs and exceptional flowers.
The garden and botanic enthusiast finds plenty of fruit trees on the lower terrace on the lakeshore: lemon, pear, pomegranate, olive, orange, grapefruit and Indian fig. There are many flower varieties, too: rose-coloured China rose, Lady Hillingdon rose, yellow Banksia rose, valerian, bougainvillea and many other species of great beauty. The wildest and most beautiful part of the garden is located on the plane area of the island, with cypresses, deciduous oaks, cedars, poplars, laurels, firs and different varieties of pine trees.
Information and booking: http://www.isoladelgarda.com
Parco Giardino Sigurtà – Valeggio sul Mincio
The Parco Giardino Sigurtà is a well-known botanical garden that stretches over 60 hectares in Valeggio sul Mincio (province of Verona), 35 minutes far from Garda. It was awarded as the “Most beautiful European park” in 2015 and the “Most beautiful Italian Park” in 2013.
The Parco Giardino Sigurtà hosts plenty of nature and history highlights: you can admire a million tulips in March and April (it is the most important blossom in Italy and the largest in southern Europe), the rose alley with 30,000 re-blooming roses from May to September, a fantastic labyrinth, many ponds and huge green meadows.
Villa Romana – Desenzano del Garda
This archaeological site consists of the monumental remains of a Roman villa that have been gradually uncovered from the Twenties. The villa of Desenzano (province of Brescia) is the most important example of the late-antique villae that can be admired in northern Italy and stands out especially for its extraordinary mosaic paving. Besides a wide green area, the archaeological site also hosts the Antiquarium with a rich selection of materials found in the villa.
Castello Scaligero – Malcesine
The Castello Scaligero in Malcesine (province of Verona) is a wonderful medieval castle built on a crag overlooking the lake (the citadel seems to be older). It was made famous also by the drawings and descriptions of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his work Italian Journey.
The museum wing dedicated to the German writer (Goethe Gallery) displays the drawings of the lake and the castle he made during his stay, featuring all of the colours of this territory. The castle also hosts the Museum of Natural History of Lake Garda and Mount Baldo (Museo di Storia Naturale del Garda e del Baldo) and the Fishing Museum (Museo della Pesca).
Lemon Houses on Lake Garda
The “limonaie”, lemon houses also known as “ornamental gardens”, date back to the 18th century, when the cultivation of citrus fruits was introduced on Lake Garda as well. At that time, huge south-east-facing “glasshouses” were built. They were made by high walls on three sides and white pillars fixed to terraced shelves in order to bear a thick framework of wooden beams, boards and glass windows that should protect lemon trees from cold in the autumn and in the winter.
The cultivation and growth of lemon trees has been a small botanical miracle made possible by the work of resourceful fishermen: they have become gardeners, too, and have been able to create the terraces for citrus trees that have shaped the landscape of the upper part of Lake Garda from Salò to Limone. Four of these “limonaie” are open to the public (entrance ticket: 2 €): they are located close to the lakeshore in the province of Brescia and offer visitors a wonderful view.
- “Limonaia del Castel” in Limone sul Garda
- “Limonaia del Tesol” in Limone sul Garda
- “Limonaia Villa Borghi” in Limone sul Garda
- “Limonaia Pra de la Fam” in Tignal
Even though the name “Lemon Riviera” referred to the shore stretching out from Limone to Salò, you can find a “limonaia” also on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, in the province of Verona: the inner garden of the castle in Torri del Benaco.