Gardone History

The architectural and cultural history of Gardone, Italy. Churches, castles, origins and historic figures.

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The laid-back town of Gardone Riviera has evolved through the extensive, intertwining history that surrounds Lake Garda. Origins date back to the Roman era through the findings of Inscriptions and tablets. There is also evidence of rule in the Longboard era during the 7th Century and 16th century architecture gives the town its medieval style. The historical centre of Gardone Riviera is rich in character; historically significant villas, houses and churches enable a reminiscence of the beauty and culture fashioned through the ages.

Nowadays Gardone Riviera is most famous for being the home of the eccentric poet and political thinker Gabriel D’Annunzio, his self-designed house now a famed monument of his insanely fascinating mind. The town also held a special place in the questionable heart of fascist dictator Mussolini, he regularly visited the town to visit his lover towards the end of the war. 20th century German Poet Paul Heyse, famous for his Nobel Prize winning poem ‘last will and testament’, also resided here and immortalised his love of the town in his poetry.

Vittoriale degli Italiani

This fascinating house was built and lived in by the extravagant, egocentric poet and political thinker Gabrielle D’Annunzio from 1922-1938. The house showcases everything associated with the artist with many of the objects connected to the various women in his life- there were many. Like, D’Annunzio, the house is excessively weird yet fascinating and if you didn’t know who D’Annunzio was before you certainly won’t forget him after a visit here. It is worth knowing a little about him before visiting the house. An acquaintance of Nietzsche, admired by James Joyce and a strong influence over Mussolini, his poetry, thinking, and political speeches cause controversy to this day. This house will fill you with mixed emotions of love, hate, repulsion and admiration of the home and mind of the man who stated "The world must be convinced that I am capable of anything”.

The monumental residence of D’Annunzio extends past the house and through a rich abundant garden to open out to an open air amphitheater. Another example of the eccentric work of D’Annunzio can be seen among the trees above. D’Annunzio had a boat had been brought in by train and reassembled on the hillside to commemorate men who perished at sea during WWI.

Villa Alba

Villa Alba was designed by German architect Shaefer at the beginning of the 20th for the Langensiepen family. The Neoclassical style is reminiscent of the Acropolis of Athens with a columned façade, pediment relief and surrounding statues. The villa is a prime example of the various cultures that define the area of Lake Garda and extend its history.

Villa Fiordaliso

The neoclassical styled Villa Fiordaliso sits on the lake-front surrounded by a beautiful park. The idyllic location was where Gabriel D’Annunzio pondered over his project to monumentalise himself in Italian history, and where Musollini came to meet his lover towards the end of the Second World War. Now open as a hotel and restaurant, you can gain an intimate look in to where these fiercely powerful figures spent their most personal moments.

S. Nicolò Church

The church was designed by architect Paolo Soratini from Lonate and built over an existing 14th century building in 1740. The interior is decorated with paintings and frescoes, one of particular value is the image of ‘Madonna of Fraole’ and every year in October a festival is held in her honour.

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