The Brescian Upper Garda Park ( Parco Alto Garda Bresciano) was founded in 1989 and extends over the territory of the following nine municipalities:
• Gardone Riviera
• Toscolano Maderno
• Limone Sul Garda
It was formed in order to safeguard the environment and landscape, and to outline a development of the communities within the Park compatible with the protection of nature.
The Park, with its 38 thousand hectares, offers an important and unusual combination of environments for such a restricted area that ranges from an altitude of almost 2000 metres above sea level in the mountains to the 65 metres above sea level near the lake. The alpine environment, with its dramatic scenery and fascinating flora and fauna in the inland mountains contrasts with the wonderful Mediterranean environment, climate and vegetation (due to the tempering influence of the Lake) to be found near the lake.
Salò is the town with the largest population in the Park. Located in a central position of the Upper Garda area, Valsabbia and Valtenesi, it has had an important part to play in the history of the area and even today is an important administrative centre for the services it offers.
Its attractive centre built around a beautiful bay and tastefully conserved, its wealth of great artistic buildings (especially the Duomo (cathedral), its lively shopping centre and mild climate make it an attractive place to visit.
Official site: www.comune.salo.bs.it
Gardone Riviera is one of the most beautiful and elegant areas of the lake. Tourism around the Lake began here at the end of the nineteenth century when, with its nucleus of large historical hotels, it became a famous international health resort. As a result of its popularity many grand villas were built and luxurious vegetation planted by Middle-European landscape artists, making it renowned as a famous “garden city”.
It is famous for the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the monumental citadel of the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, and the Hruska botanical garden of the Andrè Heller Foundation. There is also an important beauty farm here.
Official site: www.comune.gardoneriviera.bs.it
Toscolano Maderno, set in a beautiful sunny position, is of notable artistic and natural interest – for example the 12th century Church of S. Andrea in Maderno.
It is the second most populated town of the Park and has historically been of prime importance for the production of paper - there were once 40 paper - making factories here and even today it is an important part of the local economy.
There is an interesting Paper-making Museum, and there are also many plant nurseries in this area
Official site: www.comune.toscolanomaderno.bs.it
Gargnano is the most widespread of the Park municipalities and is set in the centre of the Park. Buildings of architectural and historical value are spread all over this territory and the countryside is exceptional: orchards, olive-groves, gardens and the ancient lemon-groves give Gargnano a Mediterranean atmosphere together with the Alpine scenery of the mountains inland.
Gargnano is the sailing capital of Lake Garda, with its “Centomiglia” race each September - the most famous regatta in the world on internal waters, and many others.
It has a small attractive unspoilt port, notable Gothic cloisters in the former convent of S. Francesco, (founded in 1221). Notable also Villa Feltrinelli, where Mussolini lived during the Republic of Salò, and in Bogliaco the 8th century Villa Bettoni, with its splendid internal gardens.
Officiale site: www.comune.gargnano.brescia.it
Limone sul Garda, the most northerly municipality with its thousand inhabitants, is the tourist capital of the Park. Its historical centre is very picturesque with its ancient houses and marinas, situated in a small and enchanting bay under the lee of the high rocky walls.
The particularly mild climate, the fascinating countryside and the beautiful natural environment with gardens, olive and lemon groves, and the hospitality offered in a wide variety of hotels, attract mainly foreign tourists (about one million a year).
Tennis, swimming, windsurfing and sailing are all popular sports here. Olive oil production is still important and there are numerous lemon gardens.
Official site: www.visitlimonesulgarda.com
The inland valley that is shared by the two municipalities of Magasa and Valvestino represent the green heart of the Park, its most internal and uncontaminated area.
Until recently there was a progressive depopulation and isolation (until 1918 the area was part of Austria), which has recently been mitigated thanks to the help given in favour of depressed areas.
The accessibility has been improved and there has been a re-launching of the economy based on tourism for those who love nature and the simplicity of an environment where life continues at a pace now forgotten; for example, excursions and the attractions of the fauna and flora, including rare endemic species.
The rural hamlet of Magasa, “Cima Rest”, is well worth a visit, with its magnificent views, its old barns renovated with thatched roofs (now used as accommodation for tourists), the astronomic observatory and the ethnographic museum.
Located almost entirely in hilly terrain, Tignale has an offshoot at the lake (Prà de la fam) where there is still a fine example of a lemon house (limonaia) in production.* Tignale’s economy relies mainly on tourism (the Sanctuary of Montecastello is always a popular place to visit), with a significant emphasis on ecological tourism and the extensive network of footpaths to explore the are walking, mountain biking or on horseback. Recently, a vigorous impulse has been given to agriculture, with particular attention to olive growing and other specific products.
A garden of Eden between lake and sky - Tremosine with its eighteen hamlets, its beautiful natural environment from the spectacular mountains down to the lakeside, is a favourite destination for those who practice tennis, mountain bike, trekking and canyoning. The plateau of Tremosine, deeply marked by the spectacular gorges of the Brasa and San Michele rivers, is especially interesting with many military roads and artefacts from the 1st World War.
Farming, cattle breeding and milk production (with the biggest dairy in the area) go hand-in-hand with the tourist industry economy. The site of Campione (the only hamlet on the lakeside), is the mecca of windsurf and kitesurf.
Official site: www.infotremosine.it