PLACESGarda Lombardia

Gardone Riviera

The lake, D'Annunzio and the Vittoriale degli Italiani.

by Marco Ghirello

The town of Gardone Riviera lies on the western shore of Lake Garda, between the towns of Toscolano Maderno to the north and Salò to the south.

The first settlements to which the origins of Gardone Riviera can be attributed date back to Roman times. Some tombstones from that period were found in the nearby place of Fasano, clear traces of an ancient "castrum".

Over the centuries, the hilly terrain and particularly the temperate climate of this area favoured the cultivation of olive and citrus trees, constituting the main economic activity along with fishing.

The real change of pace towards a touristic direction of this splendid locality occurred towards the end of the 19th century, when thanks to the initiative of husband and wife Luigi and Emilia Wimmer, Gardone Riviera began as the first resort on Lake Garda to focus on foreign tourism and organised trips. Success was immediate and in a short period of time, more and more hotels began to open.

Many famous people of mainly Austrian and German origin built splendid villas here, attracted by the mild climate and natural beauty of this corner of Lake Garda.

In 1921 began the indissoluble association that still links the town of Gardone Riviera to the famous poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. In that year, in fact, the Vate purchased the ancient Villa Cargnacco, beginning, under the expert guidance of architect Giancarlo Maroni, a work of artistic and architectural transformation that became the extraordinary masterpiece of Il Vittoriale degli Italiani.

A true museum residence, it houses some of the symbolic objects of D'Annunzio's achievements, such as the Ansaldo S.V.A. plane of the flight over Vienna or the ship Puglia, with its prow symbolically pointing towards the Adriatic Sea, where he served.

Festivities and markets
Patron SaintSan Nicola
Feast day6 December
Weekly marketFriday

What to see in Gardone Riviera

The Vittoriale is therefore a symbolic place of Gardone Riviera and an essential destination for anyone who decides to spend their holidays here. A park of considerable size immersed in nature and located in a slightly hilly area, it pleases the visitor's eyes also thanks to the splendid panorama of Lake Garda that can be enjoyed above all from D'Annunzio's Mausoleum.

During the summer, in the splendid setting of the Vittoriale Amphitheatre, the famous Tener-a-mente music festival takes place, a stage that hosts world-famous artists every year.

Also worth a visit is the extraordinary André Heller Botanical Garden, guardian of a biological heritage of considerable interest, where more than three thousand different types of botanical species live among streams and artificial lakes.

Particularly suitable for walks is the lakefront of Gardone Riviera, with its splendid hotels and numerous villas framing an enchanting panorama from which stands the majestic Torre San Marco, now a venue for events. In its dock was moored for some years the MAS 96, used by Gabriele D'Annunzio in the famous Beffa di Buccari and today housed inside the Vittoriale.

Curious fact - The term MAS means "Motoscafo Armato Silurante" (torpedo armed motorboat) and the poet used it as a cue to coin the famous motto Memento Audere Semper (remember to always dare), to celebrate this motorboat and those who bravely served on it.

Among the most significant buildings in Gardone Riviera there is certainly Villa Alba. This splendid neoclassical villa was designed by the architect Shaefer in the early 20th century as the summer residence on Lake Garda of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Princess Sissi. The sudden outbreak of the First World War changed the fate of this project. During the war period, Villa Alba was used by the military as a radio communications centre.

Its architecture is inspired by the monuments of ancient Greece, in particular the Acropolis in Athens. The front is imposing, with columns and a pediment adorned with bas-reliefs inspired by the Parthenon. The statues of caryatids flanking the main entrance are faithful reproductions of those found in the Erechtheion.

The splendid main hall of Villa Alba can accommodate up to two hundred people. Inside there is a raised stage and a glass wall, from which you can admire the park outside. The villa is surrounded by an oasis of greenery, with fountains and plants of various species. Villa Alba is a place of rare beauty, now used for corporate events, weddings and celebrations.

The Museo del Divino Infante (Museum of the Divine Infant) is also worth a visit. It houses a unique selection of sculptures and artefacts dedicated to the Infant Jesus and belonging to the German-born collector Hiky Mayr.

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What to do in Gardone Riviera

Gardone Riviera therefore lends itself to being a perfect destination for a regenerating holiday, under the sign of wellness and peacefulness offered by its numerous hotels.

The geographical position in which this town is located makes it easily reachable from the main motorway arteries and in particular from the Desenzano del Garda exit, which is only thirty minutes away by car.

Considering the cultural and naturalistic destinations described above, Gardone Riviera also offers interesting ideas for those seeking a holiday dedicated to physical activity or for water sports enthusiasts.

In the numerous shops and boutiques in the old town centre, you can buy typical Lake Garda products and spend pleasant moments shopping.

Another possibility is the nearby town of Lonato del Garda, which can be reached in a short time. Here is located the shopping centre 'il Leone', the only one in the Lake Garda area to house an Apple Store.

Image gallery

Click on the button below to open the Gardone Riviera image gallery.

Map of tourist sites

Click on the button below to open the detailed map of Gardone Riviera, where we have marked the main tourist sights of this place, sorted by typology.


Lake Garda Experiences

A world of activities made for you and your friends. Choose between excursions, guided tours, tastings and much more. Plan your leisure time in the best possible way and enjoy the exclusive special offers.

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