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Excursions

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

3 min. reading time

Museum, park and beautiful views

Guests of the Eden Reserve Hotel & Villas do not have far to go to an absolute highlight in Gardone Riviera and the entire shore of Lake Garda, the famous Vittoriale degli Italiani. The extensive complex of gardens, impressive buildings and a small amphitheatre was built for the writer, poet and Italian national hero Gabriele D’Annunzio in 1921.

One of the highlights of this museum complex is the small amphitheatre, which offers a very beautiful view over Gardone Riviera towards Lake Garda, and is where international musicians and bands give concerts every summer. More than 200,000 visitors a year come to this wonderfully designed area, which D’Annunzio had the architect Giancarlo Maroni design and build a small “kingdom of memory” of his very extraordinary life.

Guided tour of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s eccentric Villa La Prioria

The villa, called La Prioria, is the centre of the complex and is where the poet and patriot, known for his eccentricity, lived until his death on 1 March 1938. The imposing building, with its many rooms, corridors and halls, has become a museum, displaying the original furnishings and filled with countless objects such as sculptures, medals of merit, relics, works of art of all kinds and tens of thousands of books.

Walking through these rooms on a guided tour is overwhelming, thanks to the lavish d├ęcor of each room, which is mostly darkened with heavy curtains. Each of the rooms has its name, the Officina, the study, is flooded with light while other rooms are in semi-darkness as the poet had vision problems. In the Zabracca, right next to the private bedroom, the poet ate alone in the last years of his life, cared for by many domestic servants.

Equally as picturesque and eccentric as Villa La Prioria are the entire grounds, which offer beautiful views and vistas. At the highest point, a mausoleum reminiscent of ancient Etruscan and Roman tombs guards D’Annunzio’s bones. The view over the park area, which is set against the slopes of the western shore of Lake Garda, is fantastic.

Open-air stage with a view of Lake Garda: the amphitheatre at the Vittoriale

This view is even more beautiful from the open-air theatre, which is modelled on an amphitheatre that seats 1,500 spectators. A concert in the theatre, with Lake Garda in the background on a summer evening, is a wonderful experience.

The war museum on the grounds gathers objects related to the poet’s war experiences. Also on display are an Italian Navy biplane and torpedo boat, as well as the forecastle of the cruiser Puglia, installed on one of the slopes.

The entrance fee to the villa, including a guided tour, is very worthwhile to visit La Prioria. Half a day can easily be spent in the villa and the extensive park grounds. Even though it is only a few minutes walk from Eden Reserve to the Vittoriale, it is a magnificent experience to sail from the lake to Gardone Riviera and take in the estate and its park, which is set on a slope in the most beautiful landscape.