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Piazza Matteotti and Chiesa San Niccolo in Bardolino at night

Harbour in Bardolino

At the lake's edge in Bardolino

Welcome to Bardolino
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 6,315 (2001)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Bardolino
Map: MapQuest

Sitting on the shore of Lake Garda in the northwest corner of the Veneto Region, Bardolino is a major tourist town, but also the principal center of the Bardolino wine growing district.

The first historical mention of Bardolino dates to the 8th century AD.  But, settlement dates back to the Bronze Age when, archaeological evidence shows that the tribal people who lived in the area lived in houses built on stilts over the water.  In time, the Romans obviously established a presence here as indicated by various ruins and artifacts. 

Little is known of Bardolino's history after the fall or Rome, but During the Caroliginian period the area was ruled by King Pipinus, who built the still standing Chiesa San Zeno, which has an unusual square plan that is found only rarely in Italy.  The original town walls were built during the 9th century, and later the powerful Scaligeri family of Verona added a fortified castle and reinforced the walls. Not much of the walls or castle remain today.

During the 15th Century, Bardolino and nine other towns came under the control of the Venetian Republic which organized them into a defensive confederation called the Gardesana dell'Acqua, which was ruled by a Venetian-appointed magistrate who was given the rather nautical title of Il Capitano del Lago.  Bardolino was the home port for a small naval fleet that controled the lake.

The cities political fate followed that of the Venetian Republic - which fell to Napoleon during his conquest of Italy.  In 1797, Napoleon gave the Veneto to the Austrians in whose control the region remained until 1866, a few years after Italian unification in 1860.

Today, not surprisingly, Bardolino has a plethora of hotels, restaurants, boat rental operations and a slew of other tourist operations.  However, don't let that discourage you from visiting, particularly in the off-season periods.  Lake-side towns like Bardolino have a certain amiable ambiance and capaciousness that absorbs crowds, and you will be able to relax and enjoy the town and its environs.

Bardolino has a tidy and picturesque little harbour where you can rent a boat to take a personal tour of Lake Garda, or you can join a tour and take advantage of the guide's knowledge of the lake, the towns along the shore and the slopes of the surrounding hills and mountains.  Don't forget to take your camera - Lake Garda is stunning in all directions and it's hard to take a bad shot.

The Bardolino area is also famous for its namesake wines and if you have time it is well worth the effort (and money) to arrange a "wine tour" so you can visit a number of vineyards, wineries and enotecas (wine cellars).  If you can't tour the wine district, at least visit the Museo di Vino at the Zeni Cantina.  Here you will learn that up until even the 19th century, wine "must" was poured into holes in the impermeable rock strata then covered with slabs of stone.  The wine was removed after fermentation, then bottled.  Modern production processes have long since replaced these fascinating, romantic and ancient techniques.  (For more about Bardolino wines and producers, click here).

The combination of a relaxing lakeside atmosphere, charming town center, good shops and restaurants, and a surrounding wine growing area puts a visit - and a stay - in Bardolino near the top of the places to see if you are in Italy's Lake District.

By Vian Andrews, August 13, 2006

Region of Veneto

4540′N 1215′E


Verona -  35 km;
Venice -  150 km;
Parma - 166 km;
Treviso - 168 km
Ferrara - 199 km: Milan -  163 km


Hotel Ca Mura

The main street of Bardolino
Bardolino is the home of the Museo del Vino

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