Garda Island (or Isola del Garda)

Isola del Garda (or Garda Island) is a gem that can only be reached by boat. It is a private island that opens its doors to guided tours to enjoy a fabulous garden and villa.

Home Islands Garda Island (or Isola del Garda)

A unique and fascinating place, this island that emerges in Lake Garda has an ancient history and an attractive present, for many reasons. It is an interesting place to visit when deciding to go on an excursion to Benaco, and we discover why.

History: an island in Garda born for spiritual retreat

It has always been known by the locals as the largest island in Garda, just 200 meters from Capo San Fermo – the promontory located between the Gulf of Salò and the Bay of Emeralds. This territory measures about 1 kilometer in length and 60 meters in width and, perhaps because of its particular dimensions, it was inhabited only during the Roman domination period of Garda.

It was called Insula Cranie, and hosted several Gallic and Roman tombs. After the abandonment of centuries of decadence and barbarian invasions, it became a refuge for pirates, and then for the friars of San Zeno di Verona. It was transformed into a monastery in the Lombard period, at the end of the 9th century. Later, it was also known as Isola dei Frati.

Distinguished guests of this area for hermits were Saint Anthony of Padua in the 14th century, Bernardino da Siena (15th century) and in the 14th century, Dante Alighieri, in service of the Scaligeri lords. In his verses of the Inferno, according to some scholars, he remembers the island as “Loco è nel mezzo là dove ‘l trentino / pastore e quel di Brescia e ‘l veronese / segnar poria, s’e’ fesse quel cammino”.

It was Bernardino who turned the small dormitory of the Franciscans into a monastery, and the island of Garda became an important religious center for meditation and theological studies.

After various owners, and after hosting a military fortress, in 1870 it was acquired by Duke Gaetano de’ Ferrari, who created a splendid garden, and a luxurious neo-Gothic style palace built by architect Luigi Rovelli. It later became Isola Borghese, having come into the ownership of Scipione Borghese in the early 1900s, and today it has been inherited by his daughter Livia and her husband Alessandro Cavazza.

Today the island is private, although administratively belonging to San Felice del Benaco, and the owners are the descendants of Count Cavazza. They still live on the island and are responsible for the preservation of the palace and park, which are open to tourist visits.

Visiting Isola di Garda, how and when

A camping site, a farmhouse, facilities for boating and olive cultivation. That’s what you can find on Isola di Garda, reachable by boat – the service is private, not public.

Guided tours are regularly provided to better know the island, its heritage, and the historical residence. Excursions to Isola di Garda can depart from San Felice del Benaco, but also from other centers such as Barbarano, Portese or Gardone Riviera. Generally, the cost of the excursion includes a guided tour of the gardens and the park.

The neo-Gothic style villa is usually open in some internal rooms, for a welcome aperitif on the terrace with a scenic panorama. However, in some periods, only an external walk may be arranged, so it is advisable to inquire beforehand about the reception methods.

The villa is open from the end of March to October, and while it is free for children up to 4 years old, dogs will have to pay a supplement of 3 Euros and always remain on a leash.

Regarding guided tours, they are conducted in Italian, English, and German.

The villa and the garden, jewels of a fascinating island

The tour of Isola di Garda allows you to enter the park and the rooms of the villa, which is an imposing and sumptuous construction with suggestive details in architecture. The complexity and unique style of the palace make it a true jewel of Italian neo-Gothic: the facades have pointed arch windows, and you can also see the tower crowned by stone merlons, adorned with floral decorations.

A moment of rare beauty is experienced in the loggia of the tower, where you can see a unique scenario from Sirmione to the Rocca di Manerba, up to Punta San Vigilio.

Among the beauties of the palace are the terraces and gardens that surround Garda, with lush vegetation and the result of extensive study. Here you can find local plants but also exotic plants, labyrinths, hedges, essences from all over the world and rare plants that give exclusive aromas to this island. In spring, equally extraordinary blooms of vivid and surprising colors can be seen. There are very ancient rose gardens, Chinese roses, the yellow Banksie rose, cedars, sequoias, plane trees, pines, swamp cypresses, and palms from the Canary Islands.

Isola di Garda is considered a secret and sometimes magical place, with a profile that amazes at a natural level, with its length representing the morphology of an island born from a chain of rocks. As if emerged from the beauty of Garda, to create another one.

Ciao lettore 🙂 Sono Michele, ho 30 anni e vivo sul Lago di Garda, più precisamente a Toscolano Maderno. La passione e la bellezza di questo territorio mi hanno spinto a condividere con voi i miei migliori consigli e tutto ciò che riguarda il Lago di Garda. Se avete bisogno di informazioni ulteriori commentate l'articolo e vi risponderò in 24 ore! Buon viaggio a tutti!


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