Borghetto’s history is that of an important crossing point and a border area fought over by opposing armies.
The ford across the Mincio was the safest and best-located south of Lake Garda, and over the centuries the river was a natural barrier between the lands of Mantua and those of Verona, in a border area much desired by the seigniories and armies lusting for power: the Gonzaga, the Scaligeri, the Visconti, the Venetian Republic, Austria, and France.
These lands were also shaped by the Napoleonic battles and especially the battles of the Risorgimento: nevertheless, the green Mincio that meanders here across the countryside reveals an unsuspected Arcadia, inspiring endless reveries.
The landscape is still, perennial, timeless, and brings us back to our need for springs, to our sources, like in every river legend in which water and dreams combine into one. Strolling through Borghetto in the evening to see a sunset over the Mincio, or when fog blurs the silhouettes of the buildings so that only the Ghibelline battlements emerge, is like sinking into an imaginary medieval world.
Borghetto is just a handful of houses, an ancient village of mills in complete symbiosis with its river. A river idyll, with the three ancient mills that seem to rise out of the water.
The Ponte Visconteo, an extraordinary fortified dam built in 1393 by the order of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, has been defined the “checkpoint of an ancient regime.” 650 meters long and 25 meters wide, it was completed in 1395 and was connected to the Scaligero Castle rising above it by two high battlemented curtains, making it part of a fortified complex extending for about 16 km.
The castle with its towers continues to dominate over the Mincio valley from the top of the hill. Only the Tonda tower, an unusual structure built in the 12th century, remains of the oldest part of the castle. The rest of the complex dates from the 14th century. It had three drawbridges, only one of which still exists.
Inside the village, the Church of San Marco Evangelista is a neoclassical reconstruction (1759) of the old Romanesque church dedicated to Santa Maria (11th cent.), of which two valuable frescoes from the 1400s remain.
The local products
The local product is Borghetto itself, a unique hamlet created in symbiosis with the Mincio river.
The most beautiful thing it offers visitors is a wide, enchanting, natural landscape: the waters of the river flow lazily and silently around bends and through cane thickets, where many species of bird come to nest, including swans; but they also rush and tumble over small cascades, providing background music to the people’s talk, gathered and protected by the imposing fortifications of the Ponte Visconteo.
The local dishes
The famous tortellini of Valeggio, delicious in broth and heavenly with melted butter; these are made strictly by hand and can be purchased at many pasta shops in Valeggio and Borghetto.Here tortellini are called “nodo d’amore” (love knot) because they look like the knot of a silk handkerchief tied by two lovers before they threw themselves into the Mincio.
The river provides the main courses: pike with sauce, trout and eel prepared in a variety of ways, accompanied by the DOC wines from the area, Bianco di Custoza and Bardolino.