PLACESGarda Lombardia

Toscolano Maderno

A trip from Lake Garda to Valle delle Cartiere.

by Marco Ghirello

The town of Toscolano Maderno is located on the western shore of Lake Garda, between the towns of Gargnano to the north and Gardone Riviera to the south. Its present name is due to the union of the towns of Toscolano, whose origins date back to the Etruscan period, and Maderno, whose origins date back to the Roman period.

In the Toscolano area, a splendid villa was built around the 1st century A.D. at the behest of the Roman noble family of Nonii Arrii. The ruins and some mosaic floors of this building are still visible today.

Maderno is linked to the life of Sant'Ercolano, the bishop of Brescia who lived in the 6th century. The story tells that he took refuge in a cave in nearby Campione del Garda. When he passed away, his remains were disputed by the inhabitants of the nearby villages, who decided to let fate decide. They deposited the remains of Sant'Ercolano on a boat left adrift that later landed in the Gulf of Maderno.

The most recent history of this area of Lake Garda, however, is linked to the industrial activity of paper production, which began around the 14th century in the famous Valle delle Cartiere.

In this valley, crossed by the Toscolano river, numerous factories sprang up over time, becoming the main paper production area for the Republic of Venice between the 15th and 16th centuries. Production continued with mixed fortunes until 1962, when the last paper mill in the valley, the one in Maina Inferiore, finally closed.

Toscolano Maderno can also be reached by ferry. There is a direct link to the town of Torri del Benaco, on the veronese shore of Lake Garda, which is also active during the winter period.

Festivities and markets
Patron SaintSant'Ercolano
Feast day11 August
Weekly marketThursday

What to see in Toscolano Maderno

The Valle delle Cartiere (Valley of the Paper Mills) in Toscolano Maderno is the ideal starting point for a visit to this splendid location on Lake Garda. Consisting of a narrow natural inlet crossed by the Toscolano River, it reserves truly suggestive views, immersed in a landscape that seems out of time.

The small road out of the town leads after about a kilometre's walk to the Museo della Carta di Toscolano Maderno (Toscolano Maderno Paper Museum). This building, skilfully renovated between 2000 and 2007, once housed the production activities of the Maina Inferiore paper mill.

Inside, an interesting museum itinerary has been created, where not only the papermaking process is illustrated, but where archaeological finds discovered in the Valle delle Cartiere and some ancient books printed in the first half of the 16th century are also exhibited.

Curious fact - The connection between Toscolano Maderno and the world of paper did not, however, end with the end of production in the valley. Today, in fact, the Cartiera di Toscolano still works in this business, but in a different geographical area, located on the shore of Lake Garda.

Not far from this modern factory are the remains of the ancient Roman Villa of the Nonii Arrii. The excavations revealed numerous finds of great archaeological value, such as columns, statues, marbles, mosaics, coins and capitals. The site is open to the public during the summer period with free admission.

Some religious buildings in the area are also of great architectural interest, such as the Romanesque church of Maderno, dedicated to Sant'Andrea Apostolo, and the Santuario di Supina, located in the village of the same name and dating back to the 15th century.

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What to do in Toscolano Maderno

A holiday in Toscolano Maderno is the ideal choice for relaxing on the shores of Lake Garda. It is also a perfect place for sports activities, excursions in nature or simple walks.

In the hinterland there are a number of small villages, reachable by paths or small roads, located in hilly areas from which it is possible to enjoy a panoramic view ranging from Monte Baldo to the Sirmione peninsula.

Among the best known routes is the Proch path, which ascends from Maderno, passes through the villages of Montemaderno and Maclino, and then descends to the Bornico valley. It is a low-difficulty itinerary, about 3 kilometres long and can be covered in one hour's walk.

For the more experienced there is the Calchere path, a route over eight kilometres long and so called because it crosses the places where these ancient lime kilns stood in the past. A slightly more demanding route than the previous one, but useful for discovering hidden and suggestive corners.

These are just some of the excursions that can be made in this area, but if your passion is swimming, you will certainly not be disappointed.

There are several beaches in Toscolano Maderno where you can have fun and swim safely, and among the most popular are the Lido Azzurro beach and the Lido degli Ulivi beach.

Those who do not want to give up the company of their dog will find a suitable place at the Bau Beach.

Image gallery

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Map of tourist sites

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


Lake Garda Experiences

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