The center of Limone is located in a privileged position on Lake Garda, and for this reason it has been an ideal location for the cultivation of citrus fruit for centuries, even at these latitudes; this is the most northerly point ever where lemons and oranges grow!
Its history starts from afar, and is testified by a structure such as the Limonaia del Castèl, located in the historic center, dating back to the eighteenth century. In this citrus garden on Lake Garda, the atmosphere of the past has remained intact, together with the architecture, to show how citrus groves abounded in this corner of Lake Garda in the past.
The history of the Limonaia sul Garda
Probably arrived from the Ligurian Riviera, citrus fruits had great luck in the area, and we know that citrus plants and lemon groves are a centuries-old presence between Limone and Toscolano Maderno. This Garda shore became an area of excellence for the cultivation of oranges and lemons since the early seventeenth century (according to some, as early as the fifteenth century with sporadic crops).
The Limonaia del Castel was born in the eighteenth century (the date April 15, 1786 is visible in a well) but is documented with precision above all in the Napoleonic cadastre, drawn up in 1817.
Its history is that of a remarkable production structure, which went from the Mura valley to the Màndola valley, with an area of about 1,600 square meters. The main castèl was built in the area defined as cùen della Marchesana, with several floors; in the other areas, which extend over various còle (terraces), it borders to the north with a territory on which another small castèl stands.
In many decades it has functioned as a successful citrus garden, only to be abandoned and recovered by the municipal administration in recent times: in the mid-nineteenth century, in fact, a period of crisis began for the cultivation of lemons, which only with the recent tourist flow on Garda, has been able to resume a production that is now selected and refined.
After various private properties, the Limonaia in 1926 was bought by Giuseppe Segala, before being sold to the municipal administration. In 1995 the municipality of Limone sul Garda bought it in order to protect the building and enhance this cultural and agricultural heritage of the area. The intent was to enhance the history of citrus cultivation in the ancient village, and to show this building-document to visitors to Limone. The structure has undergone several conservative restorations but since 2004 it has been permanently open to the public.
In these decades the Limonaia del Castel has become a symbol of the environmental landscape of Limone, a tourist resource and a testimony of the many activities of the Garda people over the centuries.
Its position allows visitors to understand the architecture of walls, pillars for the protection of plants from cold winds, and the arrangement of trees for the cultivation of citrus fruits. A lemon house, in fact, must be contained in a structure closed on three sides, and exposed to the south-east towards the sun to ensure optimal fruit growth. In some seasons, there are also sheets of glass and wood (of the greenhouses) for the greater protection of the trees.
How to reach the Limonaia del Castel
To get to Limone del Garda it is necessary to take the Gardesana Occidentale road, passing Tremosine for those coming from the south or Riva del Garda for those coming from the north.
The property is located in the historic center, more precisely in the parallel (and uphill) streets of the lakefront, taking via Orti or via Castello. In the streets of the village you will easily find indications to go to the Limonaia del Castel, and you can also follow some nice guide tiles in the ground that will show you the direction to take.
When you arrive at the Limonaia, you will find a unique scenario: the building is located against the walls of Mount Mughera, located in the terraces between the rocky walls in a scenographic way, giving a suggestive view of Lake Garda and in some seasons an unforgettable scent.
The pillars, leaning against the rock, wind their way between the Garda road and the lake, in a terrace that has now become a decidedly “surprising” vantage point.
What to see in the Limonaia
Arriving at the Limonaia del Castel you will find a stone building, which includes an educational-museum center, created in a space formerly intended for the shelter of work tools.
Information panels are prepared for visitors to explain both the history of this lemon house and the cultivation of the many types of citrus fruits grown on Lake Garda. In addition to lemons, in fact, cedars, chinotti, grapefruits, mandarins, mandarins, clementines and kumquats are born in different seasons.
The visit lasts about half an hour / an hour, and on the top floor there is also a space for video projections dedicated to the panorama and the localities of this shore of Lake Garda.
You will discover how a lemon house is made, a real garden of Eden full of fruits and the result of a lot of work: there are many activities to do during the year, from daily irrigation to pruning, fertilization, soil control, assembly and disassembly greenhouses according to the season, harvesting, selection of citrus fruits … because they are not all the same!
In the museum of the Limonaia del Castel there are all the useful information to understand how citrus fruits were grown and harvested, how they were transported along the Garda to many destinations. In most cases the Garda lemons arrived towards Northern Europe, even reaching Poland and Russia.
Useful information on the Limonaia del Castel in Limone
To visit the Limonaia, you can access with an entrance ticket of 2 euros for adults and 1 euro for children.
The building is open every day from the end of March to the end of October.
The lemon house observes the following times:
10.00 – 18.00 – from March 24 to May 18
10.00 – 22.00 – from May 19th to June 15th
10.00 – 18.00 – from June 16 to October 31.