Gardone Riviera is located on the western shore of Lake Garda, near Salò. The city was known as Pagus Salodium in Roman times. Gardone is an elegant holiday resort on the famous “Lemon Riviera”. This charming little city has around 2600 inhabitants. Gardone has been a member of the association “I Borghi più Belli d’Italia” (most beautiful places in Italy) since 2017. The mild climate on Lake Garda ensures lush and colorful vegetation. The hills surrounding Gardone Riviera create a warm microclimate, which is excellent for Mediterranean vegetation such as citrus, cypress, and agave.
The discovery of a few tombstones in the district of Fasano, one of the oldest centers in Gardone, confirms that Gardone Riviera was already inhabited in Roman times. The Lombards later occupied the area. From the beginning of the 13th century, the place belonged to the Bishop of Brescia, who had the area administered by the feudal lord Ugoni, also from Brescia. From 1337 to 1797, Gardone Riviera belonged to the “Magnifica Patria” with the seat of government Salò. In 1815 Gardone belonged to the Lombardy-Venetian Kingdom. With the end of the Second Italian War of Independence, it became part of the Kingdom of Italy. At the end of the 19th century, Gardone Riviera became a spa. German doctors like Ludwig Rohden recommended the place, which was formerly called Hildebrandsburg, especially for more extended stays due to the therapeutic properties of its climate. For this reason, the Austrian Ludwig Wimmer wanted to build the first more massive hotel on the lake. When he became Mayor of Gardone in 1881, he began to promote the community successfully.
Within a few years, it became a health resort. In 1900 Gardone was connected to the Brescia – Salò – Gargnano tram line. The route was finally shut down in 1934. From 1921 to 1938, Gabriele D’Annunzio lived here. During the Italian Social Republic period, the large hotels and villas became the headquarters of command posts, embassies, and military hospitals. Tourism, agriculture, and fishing have been the primary economic resources of the Gardone for many years. After the Second World War, the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill also visited Gardone Riviera.
The Vittoriale degli Italiani
The Vittoriale degli Italiani was the property of the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, which lived in Gardone Riviera from 1921 to 1938. Gabriele D’Annunzio was an Italian writer and poet. He is considered to be a source of ideas for Italian fascism and one of Benito Mussolini’s mentors, who, however, was never a member of the fascist party. The University of Chieti-Pescara is named after him. Today the complex is a large museum on an area of approximately nine hectares.
There is also an open-air theater on the premises. It was designed in 1930 but opened on August 8, 1953. It can accommodate 1500 visitors. The back rows of seats directly adjoin the wings of the house. The multi-part residential building is all in white, ocher yellow, and dark red. D’Annunzio did not completely rebuild this villa. He took it over in 1921 after it previously belonged to the German art historian Henry Thode. The property was confiscated after the First World War. With around 200,000 visitors a year, the Vittoriale is one of the most visited museums in Italy.
The botanical garden in Gardone Riviera is about 10,000 square meters in size and was created in 1910 by naturalist and doctor Professor Arthur Hruska. By 1971, he had more than 2000 plant species there. The artist André Heller acquired the property in 1988 and lives in the villa.
The Villa Alba was built on behalf of the manufacturer Richard Langensiepen. The monumental building was the purely private property of the family. The Kingdom of Italy was a three-alliance with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. Italy, however, pursued an expansionist policy and entered the war on the side of the Entente in 1915 after its members had promised Italy substantial land gains in the event of a victory in the London Treaty. That made Germans and Austrians “hostile foreigners” in Italy. The family had to flee in 1915 and initially lived in Zurich. The villa has belonged to the community in the 1970s. Today, it is a convention center.