This tourist village on the shores of Lake Garda is located in the northern area where the landscape offers spectacular views and the waters become bluer…
If its history dates back far, today it is mainly a tourist village, which shows its historical and natural beauties to those who visit it. From ancient buildings to excursions over 2000 meters on Mount Altissimo di Nago – another locality in the municipality.
The history of Torbole, the discovery of historical and monumental buildings
Under the massive chain of Monte Baldo, and by the lake, this territory was inhabited already in the Neolithic period, with inhabited centers already in the Bronze Age in Nago with the “historical proof” of the Castel Penede: a medieval castle now in ruins, destroyed by French troops in the eighteenth century.
In the Middle Ages, however, the first nucleus of the current Torbole was born when it was part of the bishopric of Trento. Later it was conquered by the Venetians (in the fifteenth century) and in the centuries it also passed to the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Austrian Empire and finally annexed to the Italian territory. It is also a locality that was on the front line during World War I.
The historic churches
Today Torbole relives its past through churches and historic buildings that have remained over time. In terms of religious buildings, to understand what to see in Torbole, one must take into account that the oldest churches are those of Sant’Andrea and San Vigilio.
- S. Andrea is the patron saint of fishermen and, from the height overlooking Torbole, this church once watched over fishing activities in Lake Garda. Going up the staircase to reach it, the panorama is unique, and it also allows glimpses of the ruins of Castel Penede. The church inside is late Baroque, but derives from the pre-existing one of the Renaissance period.
- The Church of San Vigilio dates back to the Middle Ages, modified in aesthetics over the centuries. It is surrounded by the cemetery, as was customary for centuries near the most imposing churches, and by a small square (called Piazzetta del Torchio) where the church community held meetings. The particular thing about this church is its “pyramid” structure, as was used in the Renaissance. A curiosity is that the bells were created from a bronze mortar, donated by the Italian Government to Torbole after the 1915-18 war.
To see in Torbole there is also the church of Santa Maria del Lago which is located on the shores of Lake Garda: modern, dating back to 1939, it is located inside the Pavese Park, an oasis of greenery for those who want to stop and rest, read, or walk.
Torbole offers the opportunity to discover the Forte di Nago and the Castello di Torbole, different epochs but with the common goal of safeguarding the territory.
The Forte a Nago is one of the 30 fortresses built by the Austrian Empire during the independence wars dated the end of the nineteenth century. Built around 1860, the Forte di Nago was equipped on two floors with gun emplacements and loopholes for riflemen, which in this way controlled Alto Garda. In addition to functionality, the fortress also reserves style details since all the loopholes and openings are decorated in stone. In reality, there were two fortresses with different levels of height and were connected by a wall in which, halfway, there was a formidable powder magazine. Today this fortress houses a Museum, a restaurant, and a conference room.
Near the Forte di Nago is Castel Penede, an ancient medieval castle perched on the Santa Lucia Valley. It was equipped with walls and towers that connected the rocky spur of the castle to the center of Torbole. It was demolished by cannon fire in 1703 by General Vendôme, and today visiting its ruins is exciting. From here one can reconstruct the history of clashes between the lords of Verona, the Venetians, the Brescians, the Counts of Arco, up to the fighting with the French.
The harbor and the Customs House
A famous house to discover is the so-called “Casa del Dazio,” the Customs House. Small, austere, and charming, it was built in the eighteenth century to be destined for the customs function by Austrian collectors.
A small Venetian-style construction that dates back to the early eighteenth century when the small wooden house that housed the port guards was transformed into bricks. Both Torbole and Nago, Arco, and Riva del Garda, in fact, were customs places since the twelfth century for the coming and going of goods and people in the territory. Before the local lords, then the Republic of Venice, finally the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
After it was dismissed as a customs house, it became a fishermen’s house, while today it is a private residence, restored by the owners while remaining faithful to the original style. It is opened on special occasions, inside there are historical photos with ancient landscapes and faces, and also the possibility of accessing the balcony to admire the view of Lake Garda.
It is located next to the port of Torbole, a small enchantment on the waters of the lake that houses fishing and pleasure boats – in the past it was one of the busiest ports on Lake Garda, in commercial communications between the Po Valley and Tyrol. The harbor is a fascinating corner of this locality, also praised by Goethe, who stayed in Torbole. His description led many people to visit this locality as part of the Grand Tour.
The painter Lietzmann also portrayed this landscape as well as leaving frescoes on the facade of the historical building called Casa Beust. The house dates back to around the fifteenth century, while the frescoes are from the twentieth century. Lietzmann, in fact, born in Berlin in 1872, moved to Torbole at the beginning of the century and lived here until 1955, also creating a painting school.
Excursions and things to see near Torbole
From this central point of Torbole, one often leaves for bike tours along the cycle paths towards Mount Baldo or towards the area of Forte di Nago. In particular, for those who move on foot, what to see and experience is the Busatte-Tempesta path which reserves spectacular views of Lake Garda with views overlooking its 400 steps!
For those who love beaches, in Torbole there is a well-served locality near the Foce del Sarca, or the relaxation of the grass of Villa Cian or the Parco Pavese.