Salò is one of the most interesting cities in the Brescia province. With approximately 10,600 inhabitants, it is the largest city on the western shore of Lake Garda and has been able to retain its authentic atmosphere. The city is not only a climatic spa and bathing resort but also a shopping paradise with small alleys and picturesque squares.
Despite being a pretty large city, it is possible to visit Salo entirely in just a couple of hours. After you discover all attractions in its historical center, you will probably spend most of your time at the beautiful lakefront.
Salo became famous in 1943 when there was founded the Italian Social Republic, also known as the Republic of Salo. Nowadays, this lovely city is a rich treasury of history, architecture, and art.
In every corner of the city, it is possible to come across statues, buildings, or details that date back to the times of the Venetian Republic. Here are all the things to do in Salo on Lake Garda:
The most popular place in the city is definitely the Zanardelli lakefront. It is perfect for leisurely strolling, visiting numerous shops, bars, and restaurants, or hanging out with locals. This beautiful lakefront was built at the beginning of the 20th century, after the massive earthquake that happened in 1901.
At the end of the last century, it was converted into a pedestrian area and repaved. Next to a small public green area, you can see a statue of Giuseppe Zanardelli, created by the sculptor Angelo Zanelli, which is nowadays a popular tourist place for taking amazing photos.
In the Salo museum, numerous exhibits show the rich past of the city on Lake Garda and its inhabitants. Opened in 2015, the museum offers exciting insights into the history of Salo, from the 15th century to the Second World War. A visit to the museum is also worthwhile for art enthusiasts.
There are paintings, drawings, manuscripts, land sculptures from different eras, and a collection of historical musical instruments. Besides, concerts and events take place in the courtyard all year round.
The cathedral Santa Maria Annunziata in Salo
The cathedral on the edge of the old town is particularly worth seeing. It is located right on Piazza del Duomo, in the oldest part of the historic center, and was built between the mid-fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century.
The Duomo, which is one of the most famous churches on Lake Garda, may seem very simple from the outside with its brick facade, but inside it hides real treasures and is worth a visit.
The interior is in Gothic style, and this particular church has a beautiful, three-dimensional mosaic floor and an eleven-meter-high Venetian dome. Furthermore, you can see the richly decorated altar and the numerous paintings such as “Saint Anthony of Padua” by the painter Gerolamo da Romano or the beautiful representation of Christ from the 16th century.
The Clock tower in Salo
The impressive clock tower with the former western city gate is located at the beginning of the pedestrian zone in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. It once had a drawbridge and protected the city from unwanted intruders.
Although its present appearance is well preserved, the gate actually dates back to the 13th century. In the 16th century, one of the five public clocks was installed, giving the tower its name.
In the 16th century, one of the five public clocks was installed, giving the tower its name. Today it is a frequently snapped photo motif as a reminder of a visit to Salo and reminds of the old tradition of tower clock construction.
Palazzo del Podesta in Salo
The Palazzo Della Podesta, built in the 16th century with its impressive arcade and Venetian facade, stands directly on the lakefront. Today this gorgeous palace is home to the town hall of Salo. The building was destroyed in the great earthquake in 1901, in which many of the town’s historic buildings fell victim and were then rebuilt in great detail.
The palace is open for visitors, so you can admire some works of inestimable value. Among the most famous is the portrait of the Provveditore, signed by Andrea Bertanza. Also, you should not miss the council room with a richly decorated ceiling, old wardrobes, an archive of very important documents, and beautiful frescoes.
Piazza della Vittoria in Salo
Piazza della Vittoria or Victory Square is the main square in Salo, which directly overlooks Garda lake. This is the place where most of the city events are organized, and the kids usually hang out. On the square, you can see several important buildings, including the Palazzo del Podesta as well as the municipal palace.
The first thing you will probably see when you come to this square is a central sculpture, the war memorial built in 1930 by the local sculptor Angelo Zanelli. The bronze statue depicts two soldiers of the First World War in the act of supporting a third comrade who was wounded and then died during the conflicts. Piazza della Vittoria is the best place for enjoying a cup of coffee on a sunny day while overlooking the lake.
Gate of San Giovanni in Salo
The Gate of San Giovanni is nowadays known as Porta del Carmine because it is located in Contrada Carmine. This simple building acts as a gate and driveway, but it was once used to mark the boundaries of the city and served as customs. The gate is arched and is decorated with the lion of San Marco in honor of Venice.
The church of San Bartolomeo
The church of San Bartolomeo is a beautiful little building surrounded by greenery, slightly above Salò, in the hamlet called San Bartolomeo. The church has a rather corroded facade, so with the surrounding environment, you will have a scenography that takes you back to the periods of the Venetian Republic.
The church looks pretty simple and poor, just like ancient churches should be. But, this small ancient pearl is surrounded by a beautiful landscape, and from San Bartolomeo, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake.
Weekly market in Salo
Chating with the locals is particularly enjoyable as a visitor at the weekly market on Saturday morning. No matter if you are looking for bargains or want to enjoy the busy flair, you will have a great time there. You can find everything from Italian fashion or souvenirs to regional foods such as Parmesan or homemade olive oil on colorful stands.
You should always try to negotiate a price with a seller because this is a part of Italian culture. The market starts on Saturday at 8:00 AM (8:00 hours) and ends around 1:00 PM (13:00 hours).
Shopping in Salo
In the old city center, between the Piazza Carmine and the lakefront, you can find many narrow streets full of various shops and boutiques. Salo is actually a very touristy-oriented and wealthy city. Clothing is something that is very popular in Salo, so you can find a good selection of everything, from footwear to headwear.
Shops are usually offering good quality elegant clothes for reasonable prices, but there are also some luxury stores with designer-labeled clothes. Besides clothes, you can buy some great-looking jewelry or souvenirs.
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