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Looking at the Big Benches of Lake Garda

The brilliant creativity of Chris Bangle.

by Marco Ghirello

Among the many tourist attractions around Lake Garda, a special mention must go to the extraordinary Big Benches, born from the brilliant creativity of the well-known American designer Chris Bangle.

For those who do not know the artist and the ideas behind his design, we briefly explain on this page his story and the steps he followed to arrive at the creation of these original works.

Christopher Edward Bangle was born in 1956 in the United States and achieved worldwide fame thanks to his brilliant career in the automotive industry. From his pencil came a number of successful models, such as the Alfa Romeo 145 and the Fiat Coupé, but true fame came for him in the early 1990s when he became head of design at BMW.

Big Bench Community Project (BBCP).

Since 2009 he no longer works with the automotive world, he moved to Italy and founded his own design company. Following the first installation of a big bench in Clavesana (Cuneo) in 2010, he created the Big Bench Community Project (BBCP) in 2014, a foundation that supports tourism and local communities.

This project has become a fast growing international phenomenon, capturing the attention and participation of people and cities across Europe.

The foundation aims to place the big benches in public places, often with a panoramic view, offering people the opportunity to meet, relax and enjoy the surroundings. Besides serving a practical function, big benches are also iconic landmarks, symbols of community and local pride.

The initiative proved to have a positive impact on the social structure of the communities involved, encouraging interaction, dialogue and the creation of new connections. Furthermore, the project has given local artists the opportunity to express their creativity through paintings and decorations.

Around this phenomenon, an increasing number of fans and 'collectors' of benches have grown over the years. The foundation therefore thought to introduce a system of stamps and passports, on which a visitor can certify his visit to a particular bench.

There are currently two big benches on Lake Garda, both located on the western shore of the lake, in the province of Brescia.

The first to be installed in chronological order is the Big Bench #101, located in San Felice del Benaco and inaugurated in June 2020. Geographically, it faces north and overlooks the nearby Gulf of Salò. Reaching it is very easy and the route does not present any difficulties. We recommend leaving your car in the nearby car park located in Via del Convento, not far from the historic Palazzo Cominelli, and then continuing on foot along the path.

Later, it was installed the Big Bench #238, located in Tignale and inaugurated in August 2022. Geographically, it faces south and overlooks a vast area of Lake Garda from Monte Baldo to the Sirmione peninsula. The chosen location is really scenic and is exactly opposite the magnificent Sanctuary of Montecastello, where you can also park your car.

The distance between these unmissable destinations on Lake Garda is approximately 34 km, so they can be visited without any problems in a single day. During the summer months, due to the high influx of tourists, we recommend to check the traffic conditions before departure.

For further information and a complete list of all the big benches installed until now, we refer you to the official website of the Big Bench Community Project (BBCP) foundation.

Image gallery

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How to get to the Big Benches

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