|Overview||Things to do||Suitability||Country Info (Italy)|
Originally a popular hunting location, Gardone developed as a resort in the late 19th century, when it was a favourite of the Italian aristocracy. At this time, many of the giant hunting lodges were converted to Italianate villas, some of which are now comfortable, old-fashioned hotels with magnificent gardens and terraces.
Famous as a "garden town", it is made up of 8 small communities spread along the lake side for around 1¾ mls and straggling inland into the hills for 1½ mls as the crow flies (the winding roads make road journeys longer). Much renovation has taken place in the original lakeside village, with its central little Piazza Marconi, ferry quay, and handful of narrow pedestrianised streets, including a lakeside promenade which are lined with shops, cafes, restaurants and the occasional hotel.
The resort claims to have the best winter climate in N Italy; hence the Hruska Botanical Gardens with over 2,000 varieties of plants and one of the finest rock gardens in Italy. A major feature of the resort is the Vittoriale, an extraordinary architectural "park" covering several acres and featuring a vast villa, gardens, theatre, ship, biplane and the monumental mausoleum of the park's creator, the Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. He also restored the San Marco Tower, one of the few landmarks in the narrow strip of properties running between the lakeside and the main road to the E of the centre. But the main feature of Gardone is the wonderful gardens, with their rich and varied flora, set on the steep slopes of the hills behind the town. A car is essential to enjoy the glorious views.
Gardone is situated over halfway down the W coast of Lake Garda (80 mls E of Milan, 110 mls W of Venice, 40 mls W of Verona and its airport). Gardone is opposite the island of Garda and the hills of Bardolino on the E side of the lake. Straggling along the lake side for a couple of miles, it rises steeply and steadily to a handful of tiny, isolated villages.