Discovering Isola del Garda

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Leggi in Italiano 


This morning I’ll go to the Isola del Garda.
Starting with a good breakfast in Salò at Casa del Dolce (Lungolago Zanardelli, 72).
If you happen to be around here, stop by and try one of their delicious brioche leavened with sourdough!

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During the summer the Borghese Cavazza family opens the “gates” of their Island of Garda organizing cultural events and 3 guided tours a day (every day of the week except Saturday and Monday). The tour lasts about two hours and you will be offered a welcome drink.

I will reach the island on board of their motorboat

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For people with disabilities here’s what I found on the website:

“During the tour there are three sets of stairs, two in the gardens connecting the terraces and one inside the villa. The tour moves at a slow pace so this shouldn’t be a problem for guests who have trouble walking. If we are informed in time of such requirements, we can organise a golf cart to accompany guests who cannot manage the stairs to the refreshments area. This does mean that some of the gardens will not be visited (but they can be viewed from above from the terrace of the villa). There are wheelchair accessible bathrooms. The tour is not suitable for anyone in heavy duty motorized wheelchairs, due to difficulties accessing the boat and transporting the wheelchair on the island. “

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Dogs are allowed on the Island paying a small fee of 3 euros; must be kept on their leads at all times and are not allowed inside the house, unless they are small enough to be carried.


Transfer from Salò, Portese, Gardone, Manerba or from San Felice del Benaco to the island takes 15 min. From Maderno 25 min and from Garda, Bardolino, Torri del Benaco, Gargnano or Sirmione takes 30 min.
The price changes according to the distance.
From Salò the price is 31 euros.


Here I am!
Look how wonderful the color of the water near the island!


The port behind me was built in 1830. Unfortunately, at the end of the 19th century the tower was halved due to structural problems. Today it is dearly called by the family “the little tower of Pisa” because of the still visible slope.



Look how beautiful is this small dock!


Over the centuries the island of Garda had various names mostly associeted to the different owners: insula Cranie, island of the Friars, Lechi island, Scotti island, island de Ferrari and lately Borghese island.


Even St. Francis evaluated this an ideal place for his friars; part of the island was given to him by Biemino di Manerba allowing him to establish a modest hermitage in the rocky northest side.

The island at the time of the friars

Despite the continuous raids of soldiers from Brescia, Verona and Mantova, the friars never left this solitary place and with the arrival of S. Bernardino di Siena, in 1429 the modest monastery was renewed and enlarged becoming an important ecclesiastical meditation center that hosted illustrious religious figures, among them there was Father Francesco Licheto of the noble Lechi family of Brescia, who in 1470 established a school of theology and philosophy but, after his death, the religious community of the island went through an inevitable decadence.

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From 1685 to 1697 it was a novitiate convent where the friars withdrew. In 1797, Napoleon and the Cisalpine Republic, acquired the right to property on the island and eliminated the monastery. In the following years the island passed from hand to hand but it was the Count Luigi Lechi of Brescia (1817) to dispose important works of restoration and construction surrendering the island, twenty years later, to his brother Teodoro, ex general of Napoleon‘s army, who made further changes by adding terraces in front of the villa.


In 1860 the State took the island from Teodoro and assigned it to the army with the idea of building a fortress there. But this fortress was never built and the auction was decided; the property was awarded to Barone Scotti who sold it to the Duke Gaetano de Ferrari of Genoa and his wife, the Russian Archduchess Maria Annenkoff.


And so, the Duke and his wife the Archduchess between 1880 and 1900, devoted themselves to the design and construction of the park, building retaining walls to the lake and importing fertile land and exotic plants.


The palace was enriched by terraces arranged in an Italian garden with elaborate drawings of hedges and flowering shrubs. Before the death of the Duke in 1893, the two together conceived the project of a building to be built in place of the old villa Lechi.
That villa, in neo-Gothic-Venetian style, was built between 1890 and 1903, designed by the architect Luigi Rovelli.



The facades are decorated with high arched windows and in this corner stands a tower crowned with battlements in stone, embroidery with floral decorations in neo-Gothic style


Wonderful, don’t you think so?

After the death of Archduchess Maria Annenkoff, the island passed on to her daughter Anna Maria de Ferrari, wife of Prince Scipione Borghese of Rome


Anna Maria, an intrepid woman, passionate traveler and photographer, really loved the island where she lived all her life, taking care of the park and of the family memories (1874-1924).

Anna Maria Borghese de Ferrari
Isola del Garda, 1905 
© Collezione Cavazza

After her death the property passed to her husband Prince Scipione Borghese who, in 1927 left it to his daughter Livia, married to Count Alessandro Cavazza who subsequently left it to his son Camillo, having as his heir his wife Charlotte and their seven children, current owners.



On the central terrace in front of the villa, the garden is in a classic Italian style with cleverly shaped hedges representing various figures including the De Ferrari family crest that gave life to the garden


On the right there is a beautiful winter garden.
I confess they are one of my passions! Look! The bougainvillea comes out from the roof



Beside the villa grow palm trees from the Canary Islands. On the lower terrace, by the lake there are fruit trees accompanied by the alternating blooms of roses, iris, lavender, valerian, cinerarie, bougainvillea, daisies, zinnias and dahlias that give harmonious strokes of color and perfumes

La Pelagra
The tavern on the island where the staff spent their free time.


The most striking and wild part is found in the flat area of the island, where cypresses are always green, cypress trees, deciduous oaks, cedars, poplars, laurels, plane trees, firs and pines of various species mixed with shrubs and essences more typically Mediterranean.

This park is still a well-kept secret, only recently opened to visitors


I reluctantly greet this enchanting place, promising myself to return soon, perhaps to attend one of the fantastic concerts scheduled!
Below I leave you the link where you can see the programming and book your visit:

 Isola del garda

If you have questions and suggestions, write me in the comments

Ciao from your Crackita!


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