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Lake view of Gargnano, Lake Garda

Villa Feltrinelli, Gargagno on Lake Garda

On the water's edge at Gargnano

Welcome to Gargnano
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population:  3,016 (2004)
Official site:

Visit our Lake District Portal

Gargnano, midway up Lake Garda's western shore, still has the feel of a real town - where people work at other jobs than the tourist trade - and so is one of those fine little places that one can actually settle in and gather one's thoughts.

The town tumbles down from the main road mid way up the slopes to the water's edge where on a narrow strip along the lake where the town's main buildings, many of which have stood their ground for centuries. crowd to the edge of the water. Unlike many other lakeside towns around Lago di Garda and the other Lakes of the Lake District, there is no room for an uninterrupted promenade.  Still, there is plenty of access for those who want to dip their toes in the water, or enjoy recreational activities like fishing, boating, sail boarding, snorkeling and so on.

The principal building in Gargnano is the Chiesa di San Francesco with its campanile - or bell tower - that can be seen from a long distance.  The church has a cloister with columns that have fruit carvings.  There is a a smattering of cafes and restaurants where one can sip espresso or linger over lunch.  Leg stretching can include a stroll around an ancient olive factory, now closed, or in and around some of the many villas on the lake, some of which have impressive boathouses and launches.

Those who want a longer walk can walk to Villa Feltrinelli, now a 5 star hotel, which is 3 km or so out of town to the north.  The walk is made more pleasant for the fact that it takes one through silvery olive and scented lemon groves.  Further on is the Capella San Giamcomo Calina, built in the 11th century.  If you walk around to the portico facing the lake you will find a 13th century fresco of Santo Cristofero, remarkable for the fact that it has survived so long in the elements.

Villa Feltrinelli has historical importance, or at least curiosity, being the palace from which Italian  dictator, Benito Mussolini, played out the penultimate acts of his fascist rule over Italy, presiding over the fantastical Republic of Salo under the protection of the Nazis.  His mistress, Claretta Petacci, was installed in the nearby Villa Il Vittoriale.  By the time he was installed in Villa Feltrinelli, Mussolini was a Nazi puppet and in fear of his life from Italian partisans.  His fears were justified - while attempting to escape to Switzerland he and Claretta were caught, shot and taken to Milan here they ended hanging heels up in Piazzale Loreto.

But don't let that discourage you - Gargnano is a wonderful "find" - a place to pass some time doing well...not much.  

By Vian Andrews, June 28, 2007

Region of Lombardia

4541′N, 1040′E


Bardolino - 26 km (by ferry)
Lazise - 30 km (by ferry)
Brescia - 46 km
Verona - 96 km
Bergamo - 100 km
Vicenza - 148 km
Milan - 152 km
Venice - 207 km
Bologna - 226 km
Florence - 310 km

Places to stay
Hotel Baia d'Oro

Tourist Office:
Palazzo Comunale
Mon-Sat 10AM to Noon and 3:30 PM to 7PM
Tel: 0365-71-222

Stemma of Gargnano

D.H Lawrence stayed in Gargnano while writing his book, Twilight in Italy, which evokes the atmosphere of the town and Lake Garda.


Winston Churchill loved to come to Lake Garda and paint - and his works include paintings of Gargnano.