The town of Gargnano lies on the western shore of Lake Garda, between towns of Tignale to the north and Toscolano Maderno to the south.
The foundation of this settlement dates back to ancient times, probably to Roman times, as even the name itself seems to derive from the Latin word "Garenius".
From the mid-13th to mid-15th century, Gargnano was administered by the Visconti family, lords of Milan, and then passed under the control of the Republic of Venice. After the end of the Serenissima Republic, it was annexed to the Brescian Republic during the Napoleonic domination, ending with its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy.
A destination for illustrious personalities, the famous English writer David Herbert Lawrence stayed here between the autumn of 1912 and the spring of 1913 with his companion Frida, who was impressed by the beauty of the place, which he recounted in his book entitled "Twilight in Italy".
During the Second World War, and more precisely from October 1943, Villa Feltrinelli in Gargnano became the residence of Benito Mussolini, who settled there with his wife Donna Rachele and their children Romano and Anna Maria.
Reaching the city of Gargnano was rather difficult in the past, due to the hilly terrain that could only be crossed by a few mule tracks. Water travel was therefore the best way to move people and goods to and from this location for a very long time.
The economy was mainly agricultural, based especially on the cultivation of olives, citrus fruits and, as with all the towns around Lake Garda, fishing. It was only from 1931 with the inauguration of the Gardesana Occidentale road that the movement and communication difficulties encountered until then finally ceased.
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What to see in Gargnano
The beautiful historic centre of Gargnano is characterised by numerous fine buildings surrounding the harbour and facing Lake Garda. They include the old town hall, on whose front are some cannon balls fired from an Austrian ship during the Third War of Independence, in 1866.
Palazzo Feltrinelli, which was the seat of the Government of the Italian Social Republic from October 1943 to April 1945, is also historically interesting.
In the nearby hamlet of Bogliaco di Gargnano, stands the imposing Villa Bettoni, a privately owned 17th century palace. This building can be visited by appointment and is a splendid location for events or weddings.
There are numerous religious buildings in the territory around Gargnano, including the parish church of San Martino Vescovo, the church of San Giacomo, dating back to the 12th century, and the church of San Francesco, whose portico dates back to the early 14th century. At the latter church, there are numerous columns decorated with capitals representing naturalistic motifs, each one different from the other.
As evidence of the ancient cultivation of citrus fruits, there are still numerous lemon houses, buildings formed by high perimeter walls closed on three sides, which were covered in winter to help the plants survive and reopened during the summer. The oldest of these is the one known as "La Malora", accessible by guided tour and now a producer of excellent liqueurs and jams.
Reason for a pleasant excursion into the wilderness is certainly the one to Lake Valvestino, a small artificial basin created by the Ponte Cola Dam. In particular conditions, when the water level is lower, it is possible to see the ruins of the old Lignago Customs House, once a border area with the Austrian Empire.
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What to do in Gargnano
Gargnano lends itself very well to welcoming every type of tourist, offering a range of offers suitable both for those seeking a quiet place to recharge their batteries and for those who want to experience Lake Garda in a sporting and dynamic way.
In this regard, we remember that the famous sailing regatta called "Centomiglia" was born on the initiative of the Circolo Vela Gargnano, attracting a vast number of national and international enthusiasts every year.
The conformation of the land is particularly suitable for long walks in nature, such as the splendid excursion that can be taken starting from the hamlet of Briano, climbing up to Cima Comer, where it is possible to reach a privileged vantage point over the entire Garda area.
Equally beautiful is the excursion that starts from the hamlet of Sasso and leads to the Eremo di San Valentino, a small church leaning against the rock face and built, according to legend, by the inhabitants of Gargnano to escape the plague of 1630.
Of course, there is no shortage of beaches for sunbathers and tanners, some of which are suitable for our four-legged friends.
For those who love shopping, the historic centre offers numerous shops and workshops where you can buy typical local products such as extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits, cheeses or capers, another typically Mediterranean plant that grows wild here and colours Gargnano with its flowers.
Using public transport, it is possible to reach all the other locations in a short time, as well as the main amusement parks of Lake Garda, destinations that are very popular among families with children.
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Map of tourist sites
Click on the button below to open the detailed map of Gargnano, where we have marked the main tourist sights of this place, sorted by typology.
Lake Garda Experiences
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