PLACESGarda Lombardia


Between Italian history and the beautiful Gulf.

by Marco Ghirello

The town of Salò lies on the western shore of Lake Garda, between the towns of Gardone Riviera to the north and San Felice del Benaco to the south.

Today, the origin of the name is still unclear and there are several theories about it. Some associate it with the Etruscan queen Salodia, others with the Latin word Salodium, but what can be said with some certainty is that the Romans used this location as a salt store.

During some excavations in the north-western area, a Roman necropolis and various valuable artefacts were also found.

During a long period between the early 1400s and the end of the 1700s, under the Venetian rule, Salò became the main town of a large territory known as the Magnifica Patria.

Here was located the Podestà, responsible for the governance of the entire area and the administration of justice.

Curious fact - Gasparo Bertolotti, known as Gasparo da Salò, was born here on 20 May 1540. He was a skilled luthier and is credited as the inventor of the violin.

In recent times and more precisely in October 1943, this area was the location of the Italian Social Republic, also known as the Republic of Salò.

Tourism is certainly the main economic resource of this beautiful location on Lake Garda, but there is also a notable industrial presence, including two historical and nationally known companies such as Fonte Tavina, a producer of mineral water, and Tassoni, producer of the famous citron juice.

Festivities and markets
Patron SaintSan Carlo
Feast day4 November
Weekly marketSaturday

What to see in Salò

A tour of Salò necessarily begins with its historic centre and the enchanting lakeside promenade overlooking the Gulf.

Walking through the streets, there are many buildings that catch the eye and among the religious buildings, the most important is undoubtedly the Duomo di Salò. Entitled to Santa Maria Annunziata, it houses some paintings of great artistic importance. Built in late Gothic style, it was never completed and the front was adorned in the early 1500s with a marble portal by the sculptor Antonio della Porta also known as Tamagnino.

Among the historical buildings of this city, the most important is the splendid Palazzo del Podestà. Located directly on the lakefront, it was designed by Sansovino and once housed the seat of the Consiglio della Magnifica Patria. Today it is used as the Town Hall.

On the west side of Salò stands the beautiful Clock Tower. It is composed by a lower part opened in the middle by a large arch surmounted by a painting of St Mark's lion and an upper part where is placed a splendid 18th century clock.

In the nearby hamlet of Barbarano, overlooking the shore of Lake Garda, stands Palazzo Terzi Martinengo. Built around mid-1500 by Sforza Pallavicino, captain of the Serenissima, it is among the most representative buildings.

Another essential stop is to visit the prestigious MuSa - Museo di Salò. Located in the upper part of the city, it is home to important painting exhibitions, as well as the Museo Storico del Nastro Azzurro and the Civico Museo Archeologico Anton Maria Mucchi.

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What to do in Salò

A holiday in Salò also means hiking and outdoor living, taking advantage of the beautiful roads that surround this town on Lake Garda.

Among the most spectacular and popular routes in this area is the Bassa Via del Garda trail. With a total length of around 70 km, this trail climbs the mountain paths along the lake, joining Salò to Limone, passing through the towns of Toscolano Maderno, Gargnano, Tignale and Tremosine.

This excursion represents a different way of exploring the Lake Garda hinterland, avoiding the most crowded places and walking in nature.

Of course, you can also choose shorter, and less demanding walks, such as the one that leads to the hill of San Bartolomeo, where stands the homonymous church and from which there is an excellent panoramic view of the entire lower lake.

After a long walk, especially if done in the summer months, a regenerating dip in the waters of Lake Garda is just what you need. There are also numerous beaches in Salò where it is possible to swim and enjoy the sun, some with free access, others with a fee.

Among these are the Mulino beach, Rive Grandi beach and Rimbalzello Village beach, the latter two located in Barbarano.

In Barbarano di Salò there is the Rimbalzello Adventure, an adventure park with suspended courses among the trees at different heights and difficulties, suitable for both adults and children.

Image gallery

Click on the button below to open the Salò image gallery.

Map of tourist sites

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


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