A Wonder on the Western Shores of Northern Italy’s Biggest Lake
One of Italy’s most beautiful lakes, Lake Garda in Lombardy, is surrounded by picturesque towns. Gardone Riviera is just one of them.
It is thought that Gardone Riviera was ‘ discovered’ in the latter part of the 19th century when it became largely frequented by wealthy tourists from oversees. In the early part of the 20th century, Gardone Riviera became the home to Gabriele D’Annunzio, the eccentric Italian writer and poet. It is just one of the many reminders of the Belle Epoque era.
A gift from his friend Mussolini in 1921, D’Annuzio lived in Il Vittoriale, an opulent nine hectare pile incorporating a 1,500 seater ampitheatre, boathouse and an artificial lake until his death in 1938. It remains today as it was kept during his lifetime. Even his car and small airplane remain. Now one of Italy’s most popular museums, the Prioria (or main house) and its abundance of outbuildings attract around 200,00 visitors every year. The open air theatre even hosts concerts throughout July and August.
Unlike many other Italian lakeside towns, a roadside path makes exploring this town on foot possible. On the path adjacent with the main road, the Via Zanardelli, visitors can wander past the neoclassical Villa Alba which is just visible from the main road and beyond the cypress trees. Designed by German architect Schaefer, the former home to the Langensiepen family is now a convention centre. On the opposite side of the road, on the shores of the lake sits the Villa Fiordaliso. Now a hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant, it was once the residence of Mussolini and his mistress.
In summer months, despite enjoying a thriving tourist trade, the main tree-lined promenade of Gardone Riviera provides a relaxed and tranquil setting. Unsurprisingly, the main town itself is largely occupied with hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes.
Climate and Weather on Lake Garda
Gardone Riviera is noted for its forgiving weather. Protected by the mountains and occupying a south facing position, the temperature never drops below zero degrees and rarely rises above 30 degrees. Given the climate, it is no coincidence that Gardone Riviera also boasts an impressive botanical garden.
The A. Hruska Botanical Garden occupies over 1.5 hectares and features over 500 different varieties of plant. There are subtropical plants, bamboo trees, alpine flowers, Japanese style waterfalls and fountains. It is open to tourists from 09:00 until 19:00 during the months of March until October.
Reaching Gardone Riviera and Getting Around
Located just 50km from Gardone Riviera, Verona Brescia/Montichiari is the most convenient airport. Verona International Airport and Milan Bergamo Airport are within 60km and 85km respectively. Verona itself is just over one hour by car.
From the ferry port on the promenade, there is a regular ferry service for sightseeing or access to other lakeside towns. There is also a bus service during summer months which provides transport to and from each of the museums and the botanical gardens in the area.