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Garda, Province of Verona, Veneto

The small town, 32 km north-west of Verona, lies along the shores of Lake Garda, which is named after it, the largest lake in Italy located about half-way between Venice and Milan. The lake and its shoreline are divided among the provinces of Verona, Brescia and Trento. The economy of the place was in the past based on fishing, silkworm breeding, and the cultivation of vineyards.

Info

  • Altitude: 67 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 3500 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 37016
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 045
  • Patron Saint: Santa Maria Assunta, celebrated on 15 August.
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Provinces of Veneto

History - Antiquity

In prehistory man lived here in stilt houses, and remains were found near the Rocca, and later archeological findings of the Bronze Age are abundant in the area called Sabbionara; also graffiti were discovered in Mount Luppia, which go back to at least 2000 BC.

In Roman times Garda was probably a castrum, as shown by the regular street plan with one main street connecting the entrance and exit doors, and all the other alleys following a perpendicular pattern.

History - The Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the place became a strategic stronghold as shown also by its name, which is of Germanic origin and means fortress, which was extended to the whole lake replacing the Latin name of Benacus Lacus. In the year 888 AD the Rocca was the prison of queen Adelaide of Borgogna, who was helped to escape by a local friar. In 1162 the fortress was able to stop the army of Emperor Frederick Redbeard for over a year.

In the following centuries it was a theater of civil strife as Verona and other Italian cities, until in 1277 it came under the control of the Scaligeri family. In 1387 passed under the Visconti of Milan and in 1405 was conquered by the Venetian Republic, which established a confederation among the 10 towns of the eastern shore of Lake Garda, under the name of "Gardesana dell'Acqua", ruled by a magistrate called "Capitano del lago".

History - Modern Times

In 1452, the "Corporazione degli Antichi Originari" was established, which bought the exclusive right for the fishermen of Garda, Torri and Sirmione to fish in the lake, a right which is still preserved today, since the descendants of the fishermen auction the fishing rights every year, sharing the revenue with the members of the corporation.

In 1797 with the Napoleonic invasion the Venetian rule ended; in 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned the area to the Regno Lombardo Veneto, a kingdom ruled by a viceroy appointed by the Austrian monarchy.

The Italian Risorgimento was very strong in this part of Italy, and in 1848 the king of Sardinia Carlo Alberto Savoy met at the villa Albertini, in Garda, the representatives of the towns requesting inclusion in the Kingdom of Piedmont. Only in 1866, however, Garda became part of Italy. After the Second World War the lake became a major tourist destination, and the town saw the rise of a flourishing tourist economy.

Events

  • On the night of Ferragosto (August 15), a bank holiday in Italy, a Venetian-style regatta competition is held among 8 boats representing the 8 historical quarters. The boats have flat bottoms, and the foar oarmen compete standing in the boats, not sitting. The quarter of the winning team will keep for a year the statue of the Virgin Mary.

What to see

  • The Camaldolesi Hermitage, on top of a hill, established by the friars of St. Romualdo
  • The Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta, at the southern entrance of the town, rebuilt in the 16th century over a previous Languebard structure, but preserving some of the old features, as a ciborium over a door with the Lombard symbols of a peacock, wheat and grapes. On the belltower, added in 1571, was inserted the statue of an angel of lombard times. The attached cloister has remains of ancient frescoes.
  • The small church of Santo Stefano, just outside the southern door, preserving inside a masterpiece by painter Paolo Farinati, the Martyrdom of St. Stephen.
  • The Palazzo dei Capitani, in the Venetian style, which for a period wast the seat of the Captain ruling the confederation "Gardesana dell'Acqua".
  • Punta San Vigilio, one of the pearls of Lake Garda, a promontory closing to north-west the gulf where the town is situated, and where a splendid Renaissance villa Guarienti, a picturesque little church dedicated to San Vigilio, an ancient inn, a small port, and the enchanting Baia delle Sirene have always attracted visitors, among whom emperor Alexander of Russia in 1822, the king of Naples in 1823, and in more recent times Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Prince Charles of England.
  • The Villa Carlotti-Canossa, along the lake shore between Garda and San Vigilio, built by the Carlotti marquis in the 18th century, with a wide park in front.
  • The Villa degli Albertini, surrounded by a splendid green pard enclosed by high walls like a castle.

Where to stay