On the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, the horizon descends from Monte Baldo to the coast, where this ancient village stands. A place to visit absolutely for those who are in the Garda area, for the spectacular landscape, the beauty of its castle and the wonderful glimpse that makes Malcesine seem suspended between mountains and lake.
If you wonder what to see in Malcesine, once you have embraced the landscape with your eyes, you will be spoiled for choice between the center and the surroundings, which vary in the different seasons, always with a unique charm.
Beauties of the historic center
The history of Malcesine already shows us its historical suggestions, since its foundation dates back to prehistoric times! Certainly not as a town, but as a settlement of buildings on stilts, very widespread in the Garda area and brought to light by various archaeological excavations. The inhabitants of this settlement increased with the settlements of Etruscan populations, and were subjected to the Roman Empire after 15 BC.
Later, they came into contact with various northern European populations, who invaded the territory after the fall of the Roman Empire; over all the Lombards took possession of this village by building a castle overlooking the lake, in the mid-fifth century AD. – subsequently destroyed by the Franks. In the thirteenth century Malcesine as a free municipality was already under the dominion of the bishop of Verona, and then as part of the Scaligeri lordship; later it was part of the 10 municipalities of the Gardesana Federation and the Captaincy of the Lake, which lasted until the constitution of the Italian Republic (1802). The Captain lived in Malcesine, considered a border town, and his seat was the palace of the Scaligero “casamentum” (13th century), already built on ancient Roman remains; purchased in 1618 from Verona, it is today defined as Palazzo dei Capitani.
Inside there are frescoes and Venetian-style decorations that recall its history, natural beauties, and coats of arms of the different dominations. Recently restored (the last one in 2007), the Palazzo today presents its ancient Renaissance splendor, including a garden by the lake, where once the Captain’s boat, the ganzarina, landed.
The Scaligero Castle
The streets of the village wind around the most imposing building, the Scaligero Castle. The lords of Verona, the Della Scala, at the end of the thirteenth century remodeled the Lombard castle, making it as it appears today, in its position on the lake – one of the most panoramic places in Malcesine is the Rivellino platform, which together with the castle tower, forms some of the most breathtaking scenery on Lake Garda.
Entering for a visit to the Castle of Malcesine, you will discover a small lodge for the guards, and a ground floor that now houses the Natural History Museum of Monte Baldo and Garda; it is an exhibition space where you can have a complete sensory experience to discover the Garda area from a naturalistic point of view. Evocative settings describe the depths of the lake, its geological history, the landscape among reeds, vegetation and fauna, the surrounding mountains – Monte Baldo and the fauna of the high mountains.
The top floor, on the other hand, is used for temporary exhibitions and the celebration of weddings – in a decidedly exciting context to celebrate the wedding!
The images drawn by Goethe of this panorama dear to him, included in his Journey to Italy, are now on display in the castle’s powder magazine; other artistic finds are the remains of the frescoes of a Scaligera Chapel.
For those looking to find out even more about the history and what to see in Malcesine, here you will also find a space adjacent to the door, called Lacaòr, considered one of the oldest settlements in the country: in summer it becomes an open-air theater with about 400 seats to sit.
The tower of Lombard origin can be reached directly from the environment of the well, from which you can also access an area on the ground floor that was probably used as a “dungeon” of the castle and connected to the tower by an underground passage. If you come to Malcesine for some conferences, then you will surely see the Congress Hall of the Castle, which often hosts events, university courses and conferences. From the Tower the view is unique, as it stands out for 70 meters with its pentagon shape, over the whole landscape: unmissable.
Lakeside promenade and old port of Malcesine
The marina is another delightful place to see, where you can observe all the traffic of boats, people, tourists and the inhabitants of Malcesine.
The atmosphere is always lively, and in this area there are the most interesting commercial activities, and at the foot of the castle there are several artisan shops – in particular for woodworking and iron. Often you will also find cellars and oil mills open for special tastings, of the typical goodness of the Garda area.
There is no shortage of restaurants where you can have lunch and dinner, or places to spend the evening from the aperitif to the disco; pubs open late, clubs with DJ sets, live events.
If you love beach life, in the surroundings you will find beautiful beaches and facilities for practicing water sports such as windsurfing and sailing.
For children, Gardaland is not even that far away … so entertainment is for everyone!
The village of Cassone
Immortalized by Gustav Klimt, the scenery of this locality lives in the painting on the Church and the village of Cassone. It is one of the hamlets of Malcesine, 4 km from the center, perfectly preserved. This village is also famous for having the shortest river in Italy, the Aril of only 175 meters: a unique environment, which is definitely worth a visit starting from the lakeside promenade!
In the small port of Cassone, a Museum of the Lake has also recently opened, where the tools used for fishing in the past are exhibited, photos of ancient sailing boats. It is right here on the outside to find the caissons where the Aril flows, which crosses three bridges and manages to cross a waterfall, flowing into the Garda with an excellent water flow for its length.
The surroundings of Malcesine
If you have time to visit other neighboring places, in addition to the things to see in Malcesine, you can go hiking in nature, among reeds and olive groves, or bike rides in the hills surrounding the town, among cycle paths and paths.
You can also venture on the cable car to Monte Baldo – if you decide what to see in Malcesine, surely this is an extraordinary sight. A rotating cabin allows everyone to enjoy a 360 degree view of the mountains, in an incredible way.
The cable car route first passes to San Michele, about 1,000 meters high, and then passes to about 1,780 meters, or on the top of Mount Baldo, where the ski fields are active during the winter but also stations for paragliding and hang gliding in summer. Planare sul Garda is an exceptional experience, which is well worth doing if you know these sports.
We remind you that the cable car is open from 25 March to 12 November, every day with departures every half hour from Malcesine.