Gargnano

Gargnano what to see

Gargnano, once known as Garniano, is a charming village on the western shore of Lake Garda, within the Alto Garda Bresciano Regional Park. In addition to the small village that constitutes its centre, the municipality is composed of 12 other hamlets scattered from the lake shores to the hinterland.

This extension offers visitors a wide variety of activities and points of interest, all immersed in a natural environment with a Mediterranean flavour. Gargnano is also the capital of Vela Gardesana, which is why in summer it becomes a popular destination for lovers of sailing, one of the most long-lived and characteristic sports of the Lake Garda area.

Curiosity: In the old town, if you look at the façades of the old palace and the other buildings overlooking the port, you will notice the 32 cannon balls embedded in them: these are traces of the bombardment that took place on 19 July 1866, during the Third War of Independence, by Austro-Hungarian ships.

Gargnano

Gargnano in pills

THE UNMISSABLE

  • Villa Bettoni
  • Limonaia La Malora
  • Centomiglia

top beaches

  • Spiaggia del Corno
  • Lido dei Limoni
  • Spiaggia di Castello

weekly market

• Wednesday morning

What to see in Gargnano

The historic centre of Gargnano is one of the most beautiful and charming villages on Lake Garda, and offers many interesting opportunities to its visitors. These wonders are not only to be found in the centre of Gargnano, but are also scattered among its hamlets. If you don’t know where to start, here are some tips on what to see in Gargnano:

Church of San Francesco

Located in the centre of Gargnano, this church was built as an addition to the already existing Franciscan monastery, which according to tradition was founded at the behest of St Francis of Assisi himself around 1220. The church was probably erected shortly before 1289, the year in which it first appears in a papal bull.

The exterior, and in particular the façade, still retains the original Romanesque style with a strong Franciscan imprint, which favours simplicity and sobriety. The interior, on the other hand, was heavily modified and renovated from the 17th century onwards: among the works contained therein, the altarpiece in honour of St Anthony of Padua, created by the Venetian painter Andrea Celesti, stands out for its artistic value.

The cloister of the convent, built in the first half of the 14th century, is not to be missed: with its square layout, it features Venetian-inspired arches and columns with capitals finely decorated with naturalistic themes. The cloister is full of fascinating works, including a 15th-century marble municipal coat of arms, a porphyry sarcophagus and two tombstones of Roman origin dedicated to deities.

La Malora lemon house

The cultivation of citrus fruits was introduced in this area of Lake Garda by Franciscan monks during the 13th century. What favoured the flourishing of this activity, in addition to the favourable climate of the lake, was the creation of particular types of gardens, called lemon houses.

These lemon houses, built on small terraces, used wooden beams and stone pillars so that the plants could grow at their best throughout the year, without being damaged in the winter season.

In Gargnano there is one of the very few lemon houses that still use the traditional farming method, the La Malora lemon house: it dates back to the 16th century and thanks to an extraordinary restoration work it still continues its activity today, using a traditional and 100% natural cultivation method.

A visit is therefore highly recommended, for a pleasant stroll among the delicious citrus aromas, a suggestive view of the lake and, of course, the tasting of jams and liqueurs made from the citrus fruits.

cosa vedere a gargnano

VILLA FELTRINELLI

This neo-romantic villa was built towards the end of the 19th century as the summer residence of the Feltrinelli family, and is located just north of Gargnano. In addition to its architectural beauty, the building is also known for its historical significance. In fact, it was chosen as the residence for Benito Mussolini and his family between 1943 and 1945, as it was close to Palazzo Feltrinelli, used as the headquarters of the fascist government.

After restoration in the 1990s, the villa has now been converted into a luxury hotel, the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli. For this reason, the structure can hardly ever be visited, with the exception of one or two days a year, the open days, during which the hotel organises guided tours.

Villa Bettoni

Villa Bettoni is a majestic 18th-century villa located in the municipality of Gargnano, in the hamlet of Bogliaco. Admiring the exterior alone is spectacular, but the interior, in perfect aristocratic style, is also very fascinating, housing works signed by such fine artists as Canaletto, Paolo Veronese and Andrea Celesti.

Outside the villa is a large and delightful Italian-style garden that combines lovely vegetable gardens and cultivations on the one hand, and architectural elements such as fountains, terraces and a grotto on the other. A guided tour of the structure, which is still run by the Bettoni family, can be booked.

villa bettoni
Photo: villabettoni.it

Things to do in Gargnano

SAILING COURSE AND CENTOMIGLIA REGATTA

Gargnano is famous for being the capital of Gardesana sailing; therefore, we can only recommend lessons to learn about one of the longest-lived and most traditional sports on Lake Garda. The Circolo di Vela, in the hamlet of Bogliaco south of Gargnano, offers sailing courses for all levels of experience, as well as dedicated summer camps.

It was on the initiative of the Circolo di Vela di Gargnano that, in 1951, the first Centomiglia was held: it is one of the most important regattas in Europe and takes place every year on the second Sunday in September.

If you are a sports enthusiast and are on Lake Garda at that time, you absolutely cannot miss it.

Photo: centomiglia.eu

The beaches of Gargnano

The Gargnano area offers several possibilities to spend a day at the beach on Lake Garda for sunbathing, swimming, or enjoying an aperitif. The best beaches in Gargnano, from south to north, are:

-del Corno Beach: located in the hamlet of Bogliaco, to the south, near the centre. It is a large free pebble beach, close to a convenient bar and the Circolo della Vela (Sailing Club), where it is possible to hire a boat.

-Lido dei Limoni: Between the hamlets of Bogliaco and Villa, Lido dei Limoni is a well-equipped pebble beach. The local Lido dei Limoni Beach & Bar, in fact, as well as being very popular with young people, offers the hire of parasols and sunbeds, as well as kayaks and SUPs (a variant of the surfboard, to be used standing up).

-Castello Beach: this small free pebble beach is very close to the centre of Gargnano and Palazzo Feltrinelli. It features two jetties on which you can lie and sunbathe.

-Piaggia della Gial: this is a rather small free pebble beach, but it has an area reserved for animals, making it perfect for those who want to spend a day by the lake with their four-legged friends.

cosa fare a gargnano

Trekking to Eremo di San Valentino and Cima Comer

This is a scenic hiking route of medium-high difficulty, with some challenging climbs. The excursion begins and ends at Sasso, a hamlet of Gargnano, in a loop itinerary lasting approximately 5 hours. The first of the two main stops is the Hermitage of San Valentino: originally built in the 15th century, it is a small structure consisting of a small church and a dwelling, the walls of which are set directly into the rock of the mountain. The second stop is at Cima Comer (1279m), which offers a truly breathtaking panorama of the entire Lake Garda area from its bird observatory.

Lake Valvestino and Lignano Customs House

Gargnano not only overlooks Lake Garda but, if you go inland, you can also discover Lake Valvestino: an artificial lake created following the construction of the Ponte Cola dam, completed in 1962. It is a lake with a very special atmosphere: its sheer shores are reminiscent of the marvellous Norwegian fjords, and its waters are tinged with enchanting hues. To enrich this evocative panorama, unspoilt forests stand atop the shores. At certain times of the year, when the level of the lake drops considerably, the fascinating ruins of the Lignago Customs House emerge from the water: in the past, this structure marked a border point, beyond which there was access to the Austrian empire. What remains of it, due to water erosion, is very reminiscent of a strange and fascinating castle.
alto garda bresciano
Photo: visitvalvestino.it

Gargnano and surroundings

The municipality of Gargnano borders two other Brescian municipalities that overlook Lake Garda: to the north is Tignale, known for its suggestive sanctuary of Montecastello, while to the south is Toscolano Maderno, with its famous Valle delle Cartiere. In both cases, by moving just a few kilometres you can access wonderful locations and enjoy all the opportunities they offer.

Alternatively, starting from Gargnano you can easily reach other locations washed by the waters of the lake thanks to the convenient ferry service.

These are the main destinations around Gargnano, ready to welcome and satisfy your every taste or curiosity: all that remains is to wish you a good time.

toscolano maderno cosa vedere
toscolano maderno cosa vedere

Gargnano: FAQ

-By car
From the north: A22 motorway (Modena-Brenner), exit at Rovereto Sud and follow signs for Riva del Garda and then for Brescia/Salò.
From the south: A4 motorway (Milan-Venice). Coming from Milan, exit at Brescia Est and continue towards Salò; coming from Venice, exit at Desenzano del Garda and continue towards Salò.

-By train
The nearest railway stations are those of Desenzano, Brescia and Rovereto. From Desenzano or Brescia, take bus lines 27 or 202 respectively; from Rovereto, take the bus to Riva del Garda (lines B314 or B332), and then the one to Desenzano (line 27).

-By plane
The nearest airports are Valerio Catullo Airport in Verona, Orio al Serio Airport in Bergamo and Gabriele D’Annunzio Airport in Brescia. From these, you can continue by public transport or by hiring a car.

-By ferry
A ferry service connects Gargnano with other locations around the lake. You can check the timetables and fares of the Lake Garda shipping company on the appropriate website (navigazionelaghi.it ).

Here is where to park your car in Gargnano:
-Parking San Martino: in Via Repubblica 17, in the centre.
-Parking at the Port: in Piazza Feltrinelli, in the town centre.
-Free car park in Via del Ruc, slightly to the north.
-Parking in Via Fontanella, also slightly to the north.

If it rains during your visit to Gargnano, a visit to Villa Bettoni is recommended, or to the beautiful churches in the area, such as San Francesco mentioned above, but also San Giacomo or San Martino Vescovo. Another nice idea is to discover the shops and boutiques scattered around the historical centre of Gargnano.

There is a wide variety of choices for those who want to spend days in and around Gargnano with the whole family. First of all, during the summer, children can have fun on the local beaches, playing and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Or, if they love sport, they could try sailing lessons at the Circolo di Vela in the hamlet of Bogliaco.

In the vicinity of Gargnano, just a 20-minute drive away, there is also the Rimbalzello Adventure Park, which offers several courses suspended among plants suitable for all ages and needs, for an unforgettable experience combining fun and practical experience.

Gargnano is known for several reasons, including its fragrant lemon houses and majestic villas, and of course the various beaches on the lake. It is also known for being the capital of Vela Gardesana, whose highlight is the famous Centomiglia regatta.

In the vicinity of Gargnano, just a 20-minute drive away, there is also the Rimbalzello Adventure Park, which offers various courses suspended among plants suitable for all ages and needs, for an unforgettable experience that combines fun and practical experience.

Gargnano is located in Lombardy, in the province of Brescia. It is composed of thirteen small hamlets, and its area touches both Lake Garda and Lake Valvestino.

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