We are located on Lake Garda, in the heart of the Parco Alto Garda, in a privileged position. Our guests can choose whether to visit the historical and charming lake side with its beaches and art treasures or the countryside and its small interesting villages with cultural traditions and local products. The region offers thousands of possibilities both for hikers and riders.
Parco dell’Alto Garda
The Park was founded in 1989 with the aim to safeguard the natural environment and to promote the development of the communities within its territory. With its 38.000 hectares, it extends over nine municipalities from Salò to Limone and its area ranges from Lake Garda to an altitude of about 2.000 mt. The Park is interesting for its geological and environmental features, for its endemic flora and fauna and for its mild climate. We suggest you to visit the Park Museum at Tignale where you’ll find more interesting information about the natural and cultural aspects of the Park.
The territory of the park is crossed by the river Toscolano that originates on the slopes of Mount Caplone, flows into the Valvestino dam, built in the ’60s, then continues through the Camerate valley (not far from our farmhouse) down into the Paper Mills’ Valley (Valle delle Cartiere) and flows into the promontory of Toscolano-Maderno.
Valvestino is the most hidden part of the park with its beautiful lateral valleys that are natural borders. Valvestino was in fact the border of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the existing old military road with its army posts is an heritage of that period. Valvestino is famous for its rural buildings, the barns of Cima Rest, with their thatched roofs dating back to the Middle Ages.
The ethnographic museum, placed in a typical barn, is worth a visit and gives evidence of the simple rural farming life of the past. Thanks to clear skies and no light pollution, an astronomical observatory was built at Cima Rest where both experienced and amateur astronomers can admire stars and planets.
Valle delle Cartiere
During your stay in our farmhouse do not forget to walk along the paper mills valley, considered one of the most important sites of industrial archeology (mainly paper production) in northern Italy.
The paper mills valley is within walking distance from Scuderia Castello and is very interesting both for its naturalistic and historical features. A few years ago a Centre of Excellence was opened to the public, an Eco-museum depicting the history of the Valley and its paper production, which began in the 14th century and ended in 1962.
It’s impossible to describe in a few lines the richness of the historical beauties you can admire in Toscolano Maderno. We’ll simply suggest some of the places in the municipality that are really worth a visit.
The earliest remains of ancient settlements that are still visible in Toscolano-Maderno go back to roman times. The lake was a holiday destination for wealthy patrician families as evidenced by the remains of the Catullus caves at Sirmione and the roman villa at Desenzano.
The roman villa in Toscolano is a relatively recent finding, in fact it was found in 1967; it belonged to the prominent family, Nonii Arii , and its construction dates back to the 1st century AD. The few remains of the villa, which ancient sources describe as a huge building-complex with many terraces and towers facing the lake-front, are currently under restoration and will be shortly opened to the public. Building materials that were part of the ancient settlements can be found in more recent constructions, such as the two columns at the entrance of the nearby parish church of Toscolano.
The Romanesque church of S. Andrea in Maderno, probably built on the ruins of
a pagan temple and whose stone-remains were used for later constructions, is
a true artistic pearl.
The earliest building dates back to 8th-9th century, but was later rebuilt in the 12th
century with the intention to imitate the church of S. Zeno in Verona; also the inside
has been renovated several times.
The oratory-crypt kept St. Herculaneum ‘ relics for centuries; he was the Bishop of Brescia in the sixth century AD and died as an hermit in Campione. According to legend, he was so loved and revered that when he died all the Riviera villages claimed his body and so they decided to put it on a boat that arrived on the shore of Maderno.
In the middle ages, Maderno was an important political and administrative center as it was for a few decades the chief-town of the Riviera until 1377. At that time a big castle with four defense towers stood where the actual parish-church is. The castle was surrounded by water and the actual bell tower is the only remaining part of it. The castle was gradually abandoned and destroyed by a great fire in 1645.
The domination of Venice played a fundamental role in the life of the Riviera. The Venetians ruled the Benacus, even if not continuously, for 400 years from 1426 to 1797, until the Treaty of Campoformio. Those were times of relative prosperity and peace for the whole Riviera. The main industries at that time in Toscolano were paper production and forges in the paper mills Valley. Other local activities were fishing, breeding, cultivation of lemons, grapes and olives.
Olive tree cultivation has continued through the centuries and the oil produced in this area is considered among the best in Italy for its properties. The olive tree was introduced in Roman times and dominates the landscape of the hills surrounding the lake.
The farmhouse Scuderia, which has been continuing this old tradition, produces extra-virgin olive oil and sells it to its guests.
Unfortunately, the traditional cultivation of citrus fruits, especially lemons, which for centuries had marked the landscape of the coast-line from Limone to Salò, isappeared at the beginning of last century. You can admire a lemon greenhouse at the port of Toscolano. One of the few still functioning lemon greenhouses is located at Pra de la Fam, past Gargnano on the western shore of the lake. It is an excellent example of restoration carried out by the Comunità Montana Parco Alto Garda. This is the most northerly region in the world where lemons have ever been grown.
Continuing the visit in our municipality, the Parish Church of Toscolano, dating back to the 16th century, hosts 22 paintings created by the famous venetian painter Andrea Celesti at the beginning of the eighteenth century; he left valuable evidence of his art on the whole Riviera.
Right behind the parish church is the sanctuary of St. Maria del Benaco built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple that survived until 1580. The columns are heritage of that past.
Mainly due to its mild climate, Gardone Riviera was a well- known and elegant holiday resort for wealthy people at the beginning of 20th century. Gabriele D’Annunzio decided to establish his home in Villa Cargnacco from 1921 until his death in 1938. D’Annunzio was a poet, an ardent nationalist and one of the leading representatives of the Italian Decadentism, a volunteer in World War I and is famous for his legendary flight over Vienna and for the mockery of Buccari.
His house has become an important museum that hosts all his works, the product of his queer and extravagant life.
The whole complex covers 9 acres; there is a beautiful open-air theater with gorgeous view of the lake, where in summer dance or theatre performances are held. You can visit the anti-submarine motorboard (Mas), the prow of the battle ship Puglia, the plane with which he flew over Fiume. The main house hosts 30,000 books and 500 pieces of art that D’Annunzio collected during his life. In short, a piece of our Italian history is displayed at the Vittoriale.
Andrè Heller’s botanic garden
In Gardone Riviera the André Heller‘s Botanic Garden is worth a visit. Created by the last czar’s dentist Arturo Hruska at beginning of last century, it displays species of trees and flowers from every continent and some modern art installations. This garden is perfectly tuned to Gardone Riviera, known as the garden city for its rich vegetation also from distant lands.
Not far from Gardone you can visit Salò, considered the commercial center of the area for its shops and its beautiful lake side ending next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunciata, started in the 15th century and displaying a Renaissance portal and late Gothic inside.
Salò is full of symbols that remind of the glorious past of the Venetian Republic, such as the Loggia of the Magnifica Patria, the current town-hall, with Bas-relief of Lion of St. Mark lion which is also found on one of the main entrances and is visible in other locations on the Riviera. Also in Maderno, in the church square a winged-lion stands on a column; it was donated to the municipality by the statist Giuseppe Zanardelli, Prime Minister and famous for being the author of the penal code.
Gargnano and the Italian Social Repubblic
Travelling north a few miles past Toscolano you reach Bogliaco where you can admire the magnificent Palazzo Bettoni and its Italian gardens with fountains and statues. Next you reach Gargnano with its fourteenth-century cloister and the church of S. Francesco. In the square of Gargnano cannon balls in some house walls are the heritage of a naval bombardment occurred in 1866 during the third war of independence. A nice walk along the lake side leads you to San Giacomo, an old fishermen’s district, where you can admire an old church with its beautiful frescoes dating back to the eleventh century. Walking to S. Giacomo you can see Palazzo Feltrinelli, the villa where Mussolini lived after escaping from Rome.
From 1943 to 1945 this area (from Salò to Gargnano) was the seat of the Italian Social Republic, so-called Republic of Salo’, an important page in Italian history. During the Fascism, Mussolini established his headquarter in Gargnano at Villa Feltrinelli, now transformed into a five-star hotels, chosen for its strategic and easily controllable location near Germany.
All the government institutions and organizations had their seat in the area: the best hotels and buildings of the Riviera were confiscated. In Salò and Maderno were the seats of the main ministries. The Hotel Laurin in Salò was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the nearby Palace owned by the Red Cross, was the seat of the Cultural Ministry. The Grand Hotel in Gardone was used as a hospital, in Maderno the Hotel Golfo was the head-office of the Fascist Party and the Primary School buiding was seat of Interior Ministry.
Desenzano and Sirmione
The peninsula of Sirmione is well- known for its thermal waters and for the caves of Catullus, the remains of a magnificent Roman villa. Desenzano is a commercial center, but you can also visit the Museum Rambotti and the remains of a beautiful Roman villa.
Do not forget to visit Brescia and Santa Giulia, one of the most important Italian museums, depicting the history of the town and of the region. Located on the old street built by the Romans, the so-called decumano massimo, you can also admire the Capitolium, the Roman theater, the ancient dome. Also the medieval Cathedral Square, the Rotonda and the magnificent Venetian square of Piazza della Loggia are worth a visit.
Museo Santa Giulia: www.bresciamusei.com
…then Verona, Mantua
For day trips we suggest the romantic Verona with Romeo and Juliet, the magnificent Mantua of the Gonzaga and of course Venice, unique and fascinating. You can reach Venice by train from Desenzano to the train station of S. Lucia, from there you can walk or take a boat to the main attractions of the unique marvelous urban landscape of Venice.
Market days on Lake Garda:
Monday: Torri- Sirmione
Tuesday: Desenzano – Limone
Wednesday: Gargnano – Riva
Thursday: Toscolano – Bardolino
Saturday: Salò – Malcesine