Culture in Gargnano

Gargnano, a magical and picturesque place whos landscapes allow you to live every day face to face with
architectural beauty and romantic atmospheres that only the lake can offer:
say goodbye to haste, counted minutes and frenzy, the perfect escape keeps faith
with the principles of the slow philosophy that exalts the love for forgotten things.

This land is not only the happy island of all lovers on the hunt for unique atmospheres to regenerate body and soul, it was here that, in 1912, David H. Lawrence, illustrious English poet and writer who, together with his sweetheart Frieda, stayed for several months in what was known as Villa Igea. In the wake of the great genius, it is possible to relive with new eyes those streets and alleys that have remained unchanged in the passage of time, where you can be inebriated by the typical Mediterranean scents of the lake, the blue of the lake, the green of the mountains, the olive trees, the vegetable gardens and, above all, the ancient lemon groves, with a tradition that dates back to the thirteenth century and was inaugurated by the Franciscan friars who imagined a new way to exploit the temperate climate of the place.

Anecdotes and curiosities that will be told directly by local people: fishermen, farmers, heirs of important families, an added value of a country that still maintains the integrity of the Garda soul.

History

An area of the size and history of those of Lake Garda would deserve
whole weeks of travel to be explored and experienced in all its facets.
There are really a lot of things to see in the area but there are some that
really, during a trip to Gargnano, can not be left out at all.
Villa Bettoni Cazzago in Bogliaco

Directly overlooking Lake Garda, this little “Versailles" in Bogliaco of Gargnano is one of the most prestigious residences on Lake Garda. The sumptuous eighteenth century palace, historic home of the Counts Bettoni Cazzago (who still live there today) is located between the lake and the Gardesana, and has recently become part of the “historic houses n. 1 in Italy”. The Bettoni family, of coastal origins, extended their fortune between the 17th and 18th centuries thanks to the flourishing commercial activity in Genoa and the production of citrus fruits exported to northern Europe and Russia. The pride and joy of this marvellous period residence is the spectacular Italian-style perspective garden, upstream from the street, a privileged set in the 1950s of films and commercials for the first television sets and, in the following decades, of Mina's music videos for the Tassoni cedrata advertising campaign. The garden is connected to the villa by two overpasses located just above the Gardesana road and represents the artistic soul of an immense and precious park of olive and citrus groves, a true unicum not only on Lake Garda. It is possible to visit the monumental gardens and the interior of the palace by appointment, often accompanied by a member of the family.

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Villa Feltrinelli

Admirable directly from the hotel, in San Faustino, stands Villa Feltrinelli, currently a luxury hotel and undoubtedly one of the most charming and exclusive locations in the area. The construction of the villa, overlooking the lake and surrounded by a magnificent garden, dates back to 1892 at the behest of Giacomo Feltrinelli. The atmosphere is typical of a holiday residence for noble families. The villa consists of three bodies of different heights. The central body is hexagonal in shape and once ended with a turret that was knocked down by the Germans during Mussolini's residence. In addition to its history, the vast adjacent park, characterized by rare and exotic trees as well as the splendid lemon grove, which can be visited during the annual event Citrus Gardens, and the precious herb garden cultivated with rare passion by the Chef of the multi-starred restaurant, Stefano Baiocco, make this place even more evocative.

Former Town Hall Building (1581)

Right in the historical centre, in the square adjacent to the small port, stands the ancient Palazzo Comunale, once the seat of the council, now converted into a location for exhibitions and events. As a plaque under the entrance colonnade recalls, Gargnano was bombed in 1866 by an Austrian flotilla during the third War of Independence. The event is also commemorated by some cannonballs walled up on the facade of the palace and in some of the houses of the small gulf.

Places of art and faith

The Garda village and its many hamlets are home to several churches, each of which is worth a visit.
 

15 churches total and one sanctuary divided between the capital and the 12 hamlets. 

Let's start from the seventeenth-century chapel of Razone (annexed to Palazzo Bettoni), which is located at a height of almost 1000 meters, overlooking the valley on one side and the entire lake on the other. 

Also in Gargnano we find the church of St. Francis, built in 1298 by the Franciscan friars. The exterior is in Romanesque style and is very simple and poor, like the Franciscans themselves. The facade, in the shape of a hut, houses a votive statue of St. Anthony of Padua. In its cloister, around 1200, the Franciscans introduced the cultivation of citrus fruits. 

More recent is the Church of S. Martino, the work of the Brescian architect Rodolfo Vantini, built on the remains of an older sacred Roman building, around the 11th century.

In the charming little village of San Giacomo there is the pretty and homonymous Church of San Giacomo dating back to the 12th century (considered the oldest building in Gargnano) located on the lake shore, which completes the romantic picture of this enchanting village. 
In the direction of Fornico we find the Sanctuary of the Crucifix, an 18th century church dedicated to the Holy Trinity. 

Finally, a view should definitely be taken at the Eremo di S. Valentino, which overlooks the lake from a privileged position at 772 mt. of height. Reachable from Sasso in 40 minutes, or following the more challenging path that climbs from Gargnano, this true work of art of the fifteenth century rests its walls directly on the rock. It is said that it was built as a thanksgiving of some inhabitants for surviving the plague of 1630.

The famous people of the Lake

"There is a pretty little square, where the Italians chat and the fishermen dock their boats, not far away.
It's all too beautiful to be described -not at all touristy- simply any Italian country.
I think I'll be happy here and be able to work well."
(16 September 1912, D. H. Lawrence)

The famous English writer David Herbert Lawrence stayed between September 1912 and the spring of 1913 in Gargnano, where he lived for 6 months in the hamlet of Villa Igea, in a furnished apartment on the first floor of Villa Igea with his partner Frieda Weekley von Richtofen.

During his stay in Gargnanese Lawrence was fascinated by the local people and the enchanting landscape that he immortalized in his travel book „Twilight in Italy“. 

Memorable are his descriptions of the Italian territory, the description of its inhabitants, the deep knowledge of the life that took place in Gargnano and its ancient rhythms: the small hamlet of Villa, the imposing lemon houses, the ancient churches of San Francesco and San Tommaso and the theatre, located in the former church of Santa Maria Maddalena, where Lawrence attended some performances. 

The last days of the love affair between Lawrence and Frida were in San Gaudenzio, near Muslone, a place that stood still in time and with breathtaking scenery, where the writer was so inspired that he dedicated four essays to it.

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