If you are in Lombardy, one of the best ways to spend a sunny day off, is definitely to make your way to the Lakes. This time we find ourselves on a Sunday trip to Gardone Riviera, situated at the lake Garda.
Being the largest lake in Italy and as the military origin of its name suggests: luogo di guardia, or an observation point, Garda’s waterscape awards the passers-by with plenty of moments for admiration.
Before noon we take a stroll in the enchanting lakeside town of Salò which lays only four kilometres south from Gardone Riviera.
The place evokes all sort of historical references like being the birthplace of the violin’s inventor, Gasparo de Salò or being the seat of the Italian Social Republic between 1943 and 1945 during the Mussolini’s years.
Although it is February, the sun is pulling away our scarfs away and encouraging a slow walk along the promenade. We easily opt for a spritz-before-lunch on the patio of local bar, getting lost in the glimmering water surface and some people-watching.
We hide for lunch in the cosy Osteria Tirabisù after a series of ups and downs in the narrow streets of Salò. Besides all the yummy offers I go for the classical dish for the region, homemade pasta casoncelli filled with potatoes and the exquisite bagòss cheese, coming from the tiny village of Bagolino, Brescia. Desserts here are for connoisseurs: it is a long time since I haven’t have such a wonderful soft-hearted chocolate bonet.
After the voluptuous lunch we headed towards the elegant Gardone Riviera to visit the residence, where the extravagant Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio used to lived from the end of the World War I until his death in 1938. Also called Il Vittoriale degli Italiani is much more than you expect to see.
The Lonely Planet guide describes it as Bombastic, extravagant and unsettling, it’s home to every architectural and decorative excess imaginable and the decor helps shed light on the man.
Walking in the large residential park on the hill above Gardone Riviera one will encounter a series of surrealistic monuments associated with the Italian times of victory over the centuries like an Amphitheater or the light cruiser Puglia or the impressive mausoleum of the poet.
Since the personality and the work of Gabriele D’Annunzio appear to be quite fascinating I highly recommend the documentary here for the Italian speaking and some glimpses from the residence in a video here.
If you consider visiting the place on Sunday, make sure that you have enough time. The museum park closes at 17.30.
Do not forget to be experimental on the way back home. Sometimes traffic in the weekends is more dense.