Gardone Riviera

excerpt from the book “Lake Garda”
Gardone Riviera – Photo © Dracs

The History

The history of Gardone in medieval times is closely linked to the deeds of the villages on the hills. But there are three main events which have characterized its main features in recent history:

Gardone’s history as a tourist resort dates back to the end of the 19th century, when German doctors praised the therapeutic qualities of its climate, ideal especially for long holidays,

That was why Luigi Wimmer – a well-known personality of Austrian origins – after spending a long rest cure holiday in Gardone fell in love with this place and decided to build the first important hotel of the Riviera here.

In 1881 be became mayor of Gardone and started to advertise the town in central European newspapers: sovereigns, princes  and  important persons started to visit Gardone regularly, so that it changed into a well-known tourist resort.

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Il Vittoriale – Photo © weyerdk

From 1921 to 1938 Gardone was the last home of Gabriele D’Annunzio, one of the greatest Italian writers and poets of the 20th century, hero during World War I and a man who, with his ‘inimitable way of life” marked the taste of an era. His mansion, the Vittoriale, is a real fortress inside Gardone, and today is a prestigious museum.

The “Vittoriale” is a citadel surrounded by walls which stretches over an area of nine hectares plus a tower-dock by the sea about a hundred meters from it. The Vittoriale is an extremely complex monument made up of a number of buildings: a big Amphitheatre (the biggest in the Lake Garda area with about 1,500 seats), paths, squares, hangars, gardens and parks with fountains, streams and an artificial lake.

The house, called “Prioria” by Gabriele d’Annunzio, has remained exactly as the poet furnished it.

Il Vittoriale – Photo © AmyEmilia

Thousands of furnishings, works of art and relics, which remind us of Gabriele d’Annunzio’s heroic life, are still preserved in the various rooms. The Vittoriale – one of Italy’s most visited museums (about 200,000 visitors per year) -contains the SVA airplane and MAS 96 boat (used by the poet in his famous war exploits), the Fiat model 4 and the Isotta Fraschini. In the “Schifamondo” wing there are the Auditorium and the War Museum., dedicated to Gabriele dAnnunzio’s military experience.

The Nave Puglia (a military vessel), donated by the navy to the poet, is extremely fascinating as it is set in the rock and surrounded by the wonderful trees of the park.

The mausoleum, is situated on the highest bill, it is the tomb of d’Annunzio and the legionnaires of Fiume. In the Prioria gardens there are many relics and works of art: the “Massi della Grappa” (the Grappa rocks) and the historical “Monti di Guerra” (the mountains of war), the Arengo and the precious Canefora by Martinuzzi. From the gardens you can enter the Vallette dell’Acqua Pazza and dell’Acqua Savia.

Il Teatro del Vittoriale

In the open-air theatre of the Vittoriale, surrounded by a unique and suggestive landscape, in July and August you can enjoy the rich theatre season which goes from the opera to the operetta, from classical to folk music and from prose to ballets and recitals.

During the  “Repubblica Sociale” (the Social Republic) from 1943 to 1945 the wonderful villas and hotels became the seat of embassies, homes to German commanding officers and hospitals.

Where to stay in Gardone Riviera

There are hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

How to get there

Gardone Riviera Lake Garda Gardone map

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