What are those high pillars soaring skywards, all lined up, enclosed with white stone walls on three sides?
Lake Garda, especially along its west bank from Limone to Salò, still has some notable examples of structures not found anywhere else, to remind us of an epoch and civilisation now lost.
They are the remains of lemon groves which impressed Goethe two hundred years ago:
“We passed Limone, whose hillside gardens, terraced and planted with lemon trees, create a rich and beautiful picture..”
(from Italian journey, 1786)
Those lemon gardens were lemon houses, which date back to the 13th Century, when citrus cultivation was introduced around Lake Garda.
These characteristic buildings were constructed to protect the valuable plantations against the dangers of potential harsh winters. The inhabitants of the coastal area, until then struggling to survive as peasant farmers, boatmen or fishermen, became gardeners.
The whole economy benefited from this development as the production was plentiful, of high quality and almost exclusively intended for export to central European countries and Russia, with high profits guaranteed.
By the sweat of their brows and with perseverance they continually improved the cultivation and its structures, making it more functional and productive. Lake Garda became the most northerly area in the world to produce citrus fruits.
The unification of Italy and the resulting abolition of customs duties, the development of transport and the degeneration of plants due to gummosis disease, led to the gradual decline of this activity. Despite their decay, the walls of the lemon houses remain-witness of a flourishing period for the economy of Lake Garda.
There has recently been an attempt to save and protect these structures out of respect for their historical and cultural significance, for the local population.
The lemon house at “Pra de la Fam”, near the port of Tignale, has been restored by the Comunità Montana Alto Garda Bresciano (the organisation which manages the regional park) and can be visited by the public.
Gardesana occidentale 45 bis (The main road along the west coast of the Lake)
25080 Tignale (Bs)
The lemon garden opens from the 1st July to the 1st November 2017, each day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance € 1,00; entrance and tasting € 2,00 - Guided visits for groups (min. 10 people)
Free entrance for guests with Tignale Card and for children under 6 years old
Ufficio Unico del Turismo (Tourist Information Office, Tignale)
Via Europa, 5 - 25080 Tignale (Bs)
Tel. 0365 73354
Comunità Montana Parco Alto Garda
Via Oliva, 32 - 25088 Gargnano (Bs)
Tel. 0365 71449 (int. 225 o 227)