Toscolano Maderno

Toscolano Maderno what to see

Toscolano Maderno is part of the Alto Garda Bresciano regional park. We are located on the western shore of Lake Garda, some forty kilometres from Brescia. It is actually what were, until 1928, two separate and autonomous municipalities: Toscolano to the north, Maderno to the south, divided on the border by the Toscolano torrent.

The first human settlements date back to Etruscan times, near the port of Toscolano, but it is best known for the remains of a grandiose Roman villa, whose remains and extraordinary mosaics can still be admired today, discovered by chance during some excavations in 1967.

From 1300, the Toscolano Maderno area saw the paper industry flourish, so much so that it became one of the reference centres in Europe for the quality and strength of the paper produced in what became known as the ‘Valley of the Paper Mills’.

Curiosity: Toscolano in Etruscan times was called Benaco, like the lake itself, a name later converted to Tusculanum.

Toscolano Maderno

Toscolano Maderno in pills

THE UNMISSABLE

• Villa romana dei Nonii Arii
• Museo della carta
• Santuario di Supina

top beaches

• Lido Azzurro
• Spiaggia degli Ulivi
• Bau beach 

weekly market

• Thursday morning

What to see in Toscolano Maderno

Toscolano Maderno is one of those centres where you can find everything you are looking for from a travel experience: history, culture, beaches, natural panoramas, excursions, and of course the inimitable cuisine that characterises the whole of Lake Garda.

Let us now look in more detail at the things to see in Toscolano Maderno.

The Ancient Port of Toscolano

This place was the scene of important paper and iron sorting activities between the 15th and 18th centuries, when ships sailed to and from Venice.

The port played a crucial role in the economic and social life of Toscolano, hosting the most noble and influential families of the time. Today, we can still admire the splendid buildings overlooking the port, such as Palazzo Delai, dating back to the 17th century and adorned with valuable exterior frescoes.

A curiosity: Palazzo Delai was home to the artist Andrea Celesti, who painted many of his works of art here. The canvases painted by Celesti represent an important part of the region’s artistic heritage.

The palace is also flanked by numerous lemon houses, which can still be seen from the pier, bearing witness to local agriculture.

cosa fare a toscolano maderno

THE CHURCH OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL APOSTLES

This is an authentic religious jewel located in the heart of Toscolano Maderno.

The façade reflects the internal division into three naves. The portal is framed by a Baroque structure adorned with half-columns supporting a niche with a statue of St Peter.

The interior of the church is rich in works of art. Among the most significant are ‘The Massacre of the Innocents,’ ‘The Stories of St Peter’ and ‘The Coming of the Magi’ by Andrea Celesti. The sacristy, on the other hand, houses a painting attributed to Brusasorci, which adds further artistic value to the site.

In the churchyard in front of the church, worshippers and visitors can see the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, erected as a sign of devotion after a cholera epidemic.

Sanctuary of the Madonna di Supina

The Sanctuary is dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation and is located in Supina, near the border with Gargnano and reached by a pleasant walk.

The façade, portal and bell tower date back to the 17th century. However, the oldest core of the sanctuary seems to date back to the years 1460-1490.

The interior of the sanctuary has a nave decorated with mock architecture, mythological figures and arabesque frames. Sirens are painted on the counter façade, lending an aura of mystery to the complex. The ceiling is a masterpiece composed of 72 painted wooden panels.

The feast day of this shrine is particularly significant: following a vow made by the population after a cholera epidemic in 1567, the 25th of each month is considered a public holiday.

cosa vedere a toscolano maderno
Photo: upsanfrancesco.it

THE ROMAN VILLA OF THE NONII ARII

It was built in the 1st century A.D. by the noble Roman Nonii family. Currently, only part of this sumptuous residence has been explored, but recent investigations have helped to outline its general layout. Located on the eastern side, with a spectacular view of the lake, the villa was originally characterised by an imposing frontal loggia. The loggia overlooked a large open area, dominated by a majestic 47-metre-long fountain basin. Over the centuries, the villa underwent several transformations and additions up to the 5th century A.D., always maintaining its status as a prestigious residence. The current state of conservation of the villa includes various rooms, some of which preserve frescoes and mosaic floors with geometric motifs, in black and white or with hints of colour. Although only a part of this marvellous Roman villa has been unveiled, its charm remains intact, awaiting its complete valorisation. Within the park of the villa, there is a temple dedicated to Bacchus and one in honour of Jupiter Ammon, on whose foundations the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Benaco was built. On the foundations of the Temple of Bacchus stands today, after numerous renovations, the Renaissance Church of Saints Peter and Paul.
villa romana toscolano maderno
Photo: beniculturali.it

The Basilica of Sant’Andrea

Located in the heart of Toscolano Maderno, it is an extraordinary testimony to Romanesque-Lombard architecture. This sacred building, dating back to the 12th century, stands on the foundations of an ancient pagan temple, which was adapted for Christian worship after 415 AD. The façade of the Basilica di Sant’Andrea is made of polychrome stone and marble, giving it luminosity. Inside, it is divided into three naves by pillars with capitals from the Romanesque period. Among the artistic treasures preserved in the basilica is a valuable painting by Paolo Veneziano, depicting a Madonna and Child.

Bulgheroni Palace

Originally, the palace was part of the Convent of the Servite Fathers of St. Peter Martyr and its park was directly connected to the convent. In the middle of the 17th century, the palace was purchased by the Gonzaga family, who were prominent in Italian history at the time. Later, in 1712, it passed into the hands of the Austrian ruling house, which had a significant presence in the region. After being owned by the nobility and rulers, the palace was sold to a real estate merchant. It later came into the possession of Count Rizzardi. Today, Palazzo Bulgheroni is a private residence, but its charm has not faded. Visitors can admire the magnificent gardens and lemon house, and the municipality occasionally organises guided tours.

Gonzaga Palace

The Gonzaga family, lords of Mantua, wanted to build their summer residence on Lake Garda in the early 17th century, choosing Toscolano Maderno as the ideal site. The commission was assigned to the architect Antonio Maria Viani. With the fall of the Gonzaga family, the residence passed into the hands of Leopold of Lorraine, who gave it to a few noblemen from Brescia. The building underwent major restoration after the 2004 earthquake, which affected the Salò area.

THE ‘GIORDANO EMILIO GHIRARDI’ BOTANICAL GARDEN

A place of great interest dedicated mainly to the cultivation and research of medicinal plants. It was founded in 1964 by Professor Giordano Emilio Ghirardi.

The main objective of the Botanical Garden was to cultivate plant species from different parts of the world. It also served as an ideal environment for the acclimatisation and large-scale cultivation of useful species, as well as the study of their active ingredients.

After the founder’s death in 1991, the Botanical Garden was donated to the University of Milan. It is currently managed by the university’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and is an important research centre in the field of medicinal plants.

Visitors can explore the Botanical Garden, admiring the variety of plants and learning more about their history and properties.

Admission is free.

Photo: reteortibotanicilombardia.it

THE BELLA ITALIA MONUMENT

This is a work of art located in the hamlet of Bornico and inaugurated in 1909. It represents a touching tribute to the famous statesman and Prime Minister, Giuseppe Zanardelli. This extraordinary monument is a creation of the sculptor Leonardo Bistolfi and contains a story full of meaning. Giuseppe Zanardelli, who spent many years in Bornico, was a fervent Italian patriot and an important political leader of his time. The monument’s central statue depicts a woman, symbol of the homeland, whose gaze was originally turned eastwards, in the direction of Trieste, which was under Austrian rule at the time: it therefore symbolised the desire to unite the town with the Italian nation.

Things to do in Toscolano Maderno

EXCURSION ALONG THE PAPER MILL VALLEY

The Paper Mill Valley Ecomuseum in Toscolano Maderno is a living testimony to the region’s industrial history. This valley, which played a central role in the economic and social life of the local community from the Middle Ages until the 20th century, now offers visitors the opportunity to explore its rich history and natural beauty through an evocative walk accessible to all. As you walk through the Paper Mill Valley, you can admire the ruins of the ancient mills that were once the beating heart of the area’s economic activity. The Paper Museum, located along the route, completes the experience by offering insights into the technology and art of papermaking. The Valle delle Cartiere is not only a place of historical significance but also a highly evocative natural area, with the watercourse flowing through the surrounding woods.
cosa vedere toscolano | valle delle cartiere

The Way of Saint Herculaneum

The Way of Saint Herculaneum is a fascinating itinerary within the municipality of Toscolano Maderno, designed to offer visitors an experience of spiritual and cultural discovery through visits to churches in the area. This itinerary is divided into three loops, each with a different degree of difficulty, to suit the needs and abilities of pilgrims and hikers. Urban route: this is the easiest route and suitable for those who want a light walk through the municipality of Toscolano Maderno. Medium route: this is a route of medium difficulty, ideal for those wishing to explore the surrounding area in greater depth. Difficult route: this is the most demanding, suitable for experienced hikers who wish to explore the surroundings of Toscolano Maderno in a more complete manner.

MOUNT PIZZOCOLO

Mount Pizzocolo, with its altitude of 1581 metres, offers an incomparable view of Lake Garda.

Looking up, it is possible to admire the Adamello mountain group, Monte Rosa, the peaks of the Apennines, the majestic mountain complex of Monte Baldo and the Val Vestino dam.

The summit of Monte Pizzocolo is privately owned by Malga Valle and can be reached from Toscolano Maderno. From here, the summit of the mountain can be reached in 45 minutes on foot. Once on the summit, you are faced with the ‘Due Aceri’ bivouac and a small church dedicated to the fallen soldiers of all wars.

Fun-fact: Monte Pizzocolo is also known as ‘Gu’ or ‘Napoleon’s Nose’: during the Napoleonic wars, the French troops stationed in the region saw in the shape of Monte Pizzocolo the outline of Napoleon’s nose, hence the nickname ‘aigu’ meaning sharp. Over time, the term ‘aigu’ changed to ‘Gu’ and the mountain became known by this name.

monte pizzocolo

LAKEFRONT OF TOSCOLANO MADERNO

Toscolano Maderno’s lakeside promenade offers a picturesque walk that leads to the discovery of incredible views between the green hills and the blue waters of the lake. This stretch of coastline is a true oasis of tranquillity and beauty. Along the way, several free beaches, equipped beaches and even ‘bau beach’ for four-legged friends. There is no shortage of bars and clubs along the lakefront, where you can enjoy a coffee, an aperitif or a meal. Toscolano Maderno’s lakefront is an ideal place for a romantic walk at sunset or a relaxing day out with the family. The natural beauty and welcoming atmosphere of this stretch of shoreline make it a must-see destination for those wishing to fully experience the magic of Lake Garda.

MOUNT CASTELLO DI GAINO

Monte Castello, at an altitude of 870 metres, is a modest promontory located in the Brescian Pre-Alps that offers an extraordinary view of Lake Garda and the Monte Baldo mountain range: an ideal destination for nature lovers and hikers who wish to enjoy spectacular views.

Monte Castello is accessible to hikers of different experience levels.

toscolano maderno

The beaches of Toscolano Maderno

Toscolano Maderno is an exceptional place to enjoy Lake Garda in fine weather, thanks also to its splendid beaches. Here, then, are some of the main beaches you will find in the area.

  • Lido Azzurro beach: this is a long, beautiful sandy beach with full facilities, including a restaurant and a bar. Behind the pebble beach is a green park. You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas, and use the beach cabins and showers. There is also a children’s play area on the beach.
  • Riva Grande Beach: this is a romantic beach of gravel and white pebbles that offers a view of the small port of Toscolano Maderno. The beach is free and has free parking. Near the beach, you will also find the ‘Bau Beach’, where four-legged friends are welcome.
  • Spiaggia alla Foce: This small pebble beach is located at the mouth of the small Toscolano river and is a quiet place with crystal-clear water. Near the bridge you will find an area where you can try your hand at more or less acrobatic diving.
  • Lido degli Ulivi: is located at the end of the long lakeside promenade from Maderno, and is a quiet and relaxing beach. Access is free and you can also lie down on the grass. It offers sunbed and umbrella rental services. There is a restaurant-pizzeria nearby.
toscolano maderno gardasee

Toscolano Maderno and surroundings

In the surroundings of Toscolano Maderno, there are numerous easily accessible locations and attractions. These destinations offer a variety of experiences: from natural beauty to culture, from gastronomy to shopping opportunities.

Staying inland from Toscolano Maderno, we recommend exploring the Valtènesi, an area famous for its Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil and fine wines. The ideal place to taste the local cuisine and buy typical products.

In the vicinity of Toscolano Maderno you will find Gardone Riviera, a place rich in history and beauty, best known for the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the residence of Gabriele D’Annunzio, and Salò, known for its scenic beauty, historical architecture and its history during World War II.

You can also explore Isola del Garda, located in the middle of the lake and famous for its sumptuous palace and gardens.

cosa vedere a san felice del benaco

Crossing the lake, you can reach Torri del Benaco, a picturesque village with a well-preserved medieval castle and its lemon house, and Malcesine, also famous for its castle, as well as for the cable car to Monte Baldo.

To explore these destinations, you can use the boats and ferries operating along the Lombard, Veneto and Trentino coasts of Lake Garda, which also offer car and motorbike transport between Toscolano Maderno and Torri del Benaco. A convenient alternative to the crowded coastal roads during the high season.

For info on costs and timetables: www.navigazionelaghi.it

Toscolano Maderno: FAQ

By car
From the A22 Brennero motorway: take the Rovereto Sud exit and continue in the direction of Brescia. Continue along the Gardesana Occidentale road to Toscolano-Maderno.

From the A4 or A35 motorway: Take the Brescia Est exit and follow the signs for Salò. Take the SS45bis in the direction of Salò, without entering the town. Continue along the state road to Toscolano-Maderno.

By plane
The nearest airports to Toscolano Maderno are:

  • Verona airport at 82 km.
  • Bergamo-Orio al Serio Airport at 93 km.
  • Milan’s Linate Airport at 137 km.
  • Malpensa Airport 173 km away.

By train
The nearest railway stations to Toscolano Maderno are:

  • Desenzano station at 30 km.
  • Brescia railway station 46 km away.

By ferry
It is possible to reach Toscolano Maderno from other towns on the lake by ferry. See: navigazionelaghi.it to discover all the solutions to/from Toscolano Maderno.

Several parking options are available in Toscolano Maderno, including:

  • Public car park Via Roma
  • Public car park Viale Guglielmo Marconi
  • Pay car park Via Caboto, 24
  • Parking Via Valle delle Cartiere, 36

Despite the bad weather, Toscolano-Maderno offers many opportunities to explore the area’s culture, history and cuisine.

Toscolano-Maderno, as we have said, is famous for paper production, so a visit to the Paper Museum is a must. To remain sheltered from the rain, the day could continue with a visit to the many churches present in Toscolano Maderno, such as the Parish Church of S. Andrea Apostolo, Piazza S. Marco or the Church of S. Michele Arcangelo, in Gaino Via Della Chiesa and the Sanctuary of Madonna del Benaco, Via Statale and that of Supina, located in the locality of the same name.

Rainy days are perfect for spending more time in restaurants and clubs or shopping; Toscolano-Maderno offers a wide variety of shops, from boutiques to art shops, from souvenirs to gourmet shops.

Finally, if you want to spend some time in a quiet environment, visit the Toscolano Maderno municipal library, and if you are lucky, you may stumble upon an exhibition or cultural event.

Toscolano-Maderno is an ideal destination for a family holiday, offering a range of fun and educational activities even for the youngest children.

The beaches along the lake are perfect for children. You can spend time swimming and practising water sports such as paddle boarding. Children can also learn interactively about the history of papermaking at the Paper Museum, which offers engaging experiences and educational workshops.

In Toscolano Maderno, there are several beaches and lake access points where one can swim. Some of the most popular beaches include the Municipal Beach of Maderno, the Lido Azzurro Beach and the Riva Grande Beach. Some of them offer services such as sunbeds, umbrellas, bars and restaurants to make your bathing experience more comfortable.

Toscolano Maderno is famous for its history and culture. The town is home to the Valle delle Cartiere Paper Mill, an ancient paper mill that has become an important museum and cultural centre. In addition, the town is famous for the production of high quality olive oil, thanks to its numerous olive groves in the surrounding hills.

Toscolano Maderno is located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The town overlooks the western side of Lake Garda and is surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of the Brescian Pre-Alps.

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