Lake Garda has much to offer with regards to nature, not only on the eastern shore! In this article, GardaConcierge presents the flower paradises west of Lake Garda – five perfect destinations for a holiday in harmony with nature and the environment.
The Mincio Park opened in 1984. It comprises of a preserve area of 16,000 hectares and is set in the valley of the Mincio river, an outlet of Lake Garda and influx of the Po river. The park is located in the province of Mantua, halfway between the towns of Ponti sul Mincio and Sacchetta di Sustinente. There are various national parks in the area, among them the nature park in the moraines of Castellaro Lagusello, the Bosco Fontanta and Vallazza parks and the nature park in the Mincio valley. Their abundant plant and bird life attract both nature lovers and tourists. The Mincio Park is close to the river of the same name. A 40 km bicycle path follows the course of the river and the plain which forms a uniquely peaceful ecosystem. The preserve area of the park also boasts of many sights of historical and artistic interest, ranging from the castles in Cavriana, Monzambano and Volta Mantovana to citadels, fortresses and medieval towns. The Mincio Park is the ideal destination for a day trip, where nature and culture come together and time seems to stand still.
Botanical Heller Garden
André Heller is rightly regarded as one of the most influental contemporary multi-media artists. The garden he created brings together plants and flowers from all regions in the world. Contemporary sculptures add to the beauty of the botanical Heller garden, which takes visitors on a journey to nature and its wonders and lets them enjoy aesthetic sculptures and other human-made works of art, that combine nature and art in an exciting way. The garden puts various artworks on display, among them those of world-famous artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Susanne Schmoegner, Erwin Novak and Rudolph Hirt. Some of these works were commissioned by the Austrian artist Heller, and others were gifts. All of them cite the various traditions and religions which come together in this park. Along the routes, there are several different plants and rest areas. In the centre of the park, there is an alpine valley with clefts, crevices, pine-trees and Nordic trees as well as waterfalls. The valley is surrounded by water lily and lotus lakes that invite one to meditate.
The botanical Heller garden is situated in Gardone Riviera and open daily from March to October from 9 am to 7 pm. For further information on admission charges and special events, we recommend you visit the park website.
Garden Park on the Isola del Garda
The garden park on the Isola del Garda is in a unique location: it is situated opposite the town of San Felice del Benaco and the San Fermo headland which extends into the water until it nearly touches the island. The island is privately owned but can be visited with a guided tour. These tours include the boat transfer from the various towns on both shores of Lake Garda. The villa, kept in a neo-Gothic and Venetian style, was built in the 19th century and is surrounded by gardens and a park. In front of the villa’s terrace lies the Italian garden, encircled by hedges in different shapes. The palms from the Canary Islands stand out among the plants on the side of the villa. The lower terrace on the lakeshore is populated with fruit trees, among them lemon and pear trees, pomegranates, kaki and olive trees and many more. There are also marvellous flowers in this part of the garden: the pink China roses, the Banks rose and the “Lady Hillingdon” tea rose are worth mentioning. The park is left in its natural state, making it wilder than a planting garden. It has been open to the public only for a short time. Cypresses, cedars, bay trees, plane trees and hardwood oaks stand out in this area of the park. The garden park on the Isola del Garda is usually open from April to October. A visit includes the transfer from the towns of Sirmione, Gardone Rivera, Torri, Bardolino, Garda, Maderno, Salò, Manerba and San Felice del Benaco itself. For further information regarding prices and times, we recommend you visit the website of the Isola del Garda.
Park and Gardens of the Vittoriale degli Italiani
The citadel of the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio, located on the hills of Gardone Riviera, comprises of buildings of great interest as well as a park and unique gardens. Following Viale di Aligi, visitors reach the park, in which a mausoleum in Etruscan and Roman style was built in natural stone. There is also a garage which houses the MAS 96 museum ship once anchored in the dock of Torre San Marco and the naval Puglia vessel, the park’s landmark. The latter was a gift by the navy and bringing it to the Vittoriale certainly was not easy! On the other side of the Piazzetta Dalmata, there is the Cortiletto degli Schiavoni court leading to the gardens close by. Every garden has a different function and accordingly boasts of a certain vegetation and architecture. There is a medieval meeting place in the small magnolia forest, a lemon house below the terraces on Lake Garda and a viewpoint. Nearby are the tombs of D’Annunzio’s daughter Renata and his dog cemetery, which is surrounded by cypresses, traditionally linked to the cult of the dead. The fruit orchard is in close proximity. The reopening of the Vittoriale garden is worth mentioning in this context: after being closed for decades, the park is now again open to the public.
The Vittoriale is open year-round at the following times: during the summer season, from the last Sunday in March to the end of October from 8:30 am to 8 pm and in the winter months from 9 am to 5 pm. We recommend a visit to the park website* for further information on visiting arrangements and ticket prices.
Regional Alto Garda Park in the Province of Brescia
The Parco Alto Garda in the province of Brescia, inaugurated in 1989, is managed by a mountain community that administrates an area comprising the towns of Gardone Rivera, Gargnano, Limone sul Garda, Magasa, Salò, Tignale, Toscolano Maderno, Tremosine and Valvestino. The area has particular geological, climatic and ecological characteristics, and the lakescape and mountain scenery is unique among the alpine lakes. The landscape on the shore of Lake Garda has a Mediterranean feel to it and is nearly 2000 metres above sea level in the mountainous hinterland that is criss-crossed by many forest roads. Along the way there are various smaller and bigger alpine huts and other rather rural accommodation facilities, such as the Austro-Hungarian barns. However, it is the diversity of the flora and fauna that makes the regional Alto Garda park unique: apart from oak and beech forests, lilies of the valley grow outdoors and lemon trees are grown in greenhouses. The area is perfect for various sports activities, ranging from simple hikes to more extreme sports such as paragliding, canyoning and climbing. The park museum, located in Tignale’s borough Prabione, opened in 2002 and now organises tours and excursions for groups and schools. The museum is open from 15 May to 15 September at varying times in the mornings or afternoons. To learn more about the opening times and ticket prices, we recommend you consult the museum website*.
* website in Italian