Desenzano del Garda
Considered as the capital of lake Garda, Desenzano was one of the biggest cereal trade markets of the province of Brescia in the XV century already.
Today it is an elegant and lively little town on the South-West coast of lake Garda.
Its economy mainly depends on tourism, agriculture, industrial and artisanal activities of the hinterland.
Its origins are very old and, according to the traditions, the name “Desenzano” may come from a Roman legionary called Decentium.
The territory is crossed by the railway line Milan-Venice and the train station of Desenzano lays on it. Everyday connections are provided by regional and national trains.
Height: 67m above sea level
Surface: 60,10 km2
The excavations done in the XIX century brought to light rests of pile-works of the Bronze Age. Numerous are also the Roman finds: among them, a worth visiting Villa built between the II and the III century a.C.. The residential area developed just around the Roman villa.
In the XII century the castle was built and Desenzano was submitted to Brescia. In 1426 the town passed under the domination of the Republic of Venice. It was a central point for the corn trade and became the point of reference for lake Garda’s commercial life.
During the XVI century Desenzano tried to obtain its own independence from the Republic of Venice, and as a consequence it had to cope with invasions, plunders, pestilences and fights. When Venice fell because of Napoleon, Desenzano was absorbed by the province of Brescia and became an independent town council at the beginning of the XIX century. It was bombed during the first and the second world wars.
What to see
- Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena. It was consecrated in 1661 and it’s considered as the best example of late Renaissance style in the province of Brescia. It contains important pictures, among them “The last supper” painted by Tiepolo, some works of Celesti, Palma the Young, Zenon Veronese, and also a rare portrait of St. Angela Merici painted by Alessandro Bonvicino, called Moretto. The portrait is hanging on the wall of the sagrestia.
- Church of San Biagio. It is located in Rivoltella
- Church of S. Maria di Senioribus
- Church of San Giovanni Decollato in Capolaterra. It contains pictures painted by Bertanza, Belanda, Campi and Jan de Herdt
It is next to Garibaldi Square, in a dominant position in the northern part of the town. It was enlarged in 1472 and used to host detachments passing through. It belonged to the Regio Demanio (= Crow property) till 1969, when it passed to the town council. In 2007 the reconstruction was completed, giving the castle back its original splendour and honour. Today the castle holds numerous theatre plays, performances and presentations.
It’s been the very centre of the economical and social life of the town for many centuries. It was built under the domination of the Republic of Venice and it currently hosts small yachts.
It was partially designed by the architect Giulio Todeschini. It’s characterized by buildings in a Sanmichelian style facing the harbour.
Matteotti Square is a big pedestrian space hosting the pier. Hotel Splendid Mayer faces the square and it’s probably the very first Garda hotel that has accommodated famous politicians and intellectuals since the XVII century.
It is located in the suburb of Capolaterra. It is surrounded by monuments dedicated to the armed forces and Baresani Palace, restored in the XIX century. The building, which is characterized by a beautiful front in a Liberty style, accommodated Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1862.
Todeschini Palace, facing one of the most peculiar harbours of lake Garda, it dates back to 1580. It’s characterized by 15 stone knobbed arches and it hosts important conferences.
In Desenzano there are many aristocratic palaces: palace Leoni-Andreis (XVI century); palace Bevilacqua (XVI and XVII century); palace Bagatta (XVII and XVIII century); palace Gialdi-Pozzi (XVI century); the 2 Andreis palaces (XVII and XVIII century); palace Locatelli-Isonni, (1786); palace Alberti-Parini; palace Manzini (XVIII-XIX century).
Monument of San Martino della Battaglia
The huge panoramic tower built in memory of the battle occurred on the 24th of June 1859 is open to tourists to be visited. It contains frescoes portraying Renaissance episodes.
The Roman villa is one of the residential buildings in northern Italy pointing to the late Roman Age. It contains wonderful mosaics.
Archaeological Civic Museum “Giovanni Rambotti”
The Archaeological Museum of Desenzano dedicated to Giovanni Rambotti, headmaster of the historic storico Liceo Bagatta.
The museum was inaugurated in 1990 and it shows a vast overview of the prehistoric cultures of the territory.
It’s hosted by the Monastery of S. Maria del Carmine inside the deconsecrated church dedicated to Santa Maria de Senioribus. The cloister dates back to the second half of the XVI century; it is characterized by a square plan and five arches and twenty columns for each side.
Every year at the old dock of Desenzano around mid-august, the enchanting night has been celebrated for 25 years: a costume parade where colourful and floating paper candles are put on the water’s surface creating suggestive atmospheres. The candles spectacle is followed by fireworks.
In Rivoltella the Guest feast has been organized by the Association Cuori Ben Nati for over 40 years. Numerous people attend the event to have fun and enjoy typical courses.
Every first Sunday of the month in Malvezzi Square it is possible to visit modern antique collections.
In front of Desenzano floats the rounding mark of the famous international regatta Centomiglia, an event not to be missed for every yachtsman! It is possible to watch the competition also from the lakeside.
Every year the capital of Garda is one of the stages of the Bisse Championship, the rowing competition for traditional rowing boats from Veneto. The winner is awarded the symbolic throphy “Flag of the lake”.
Household names connected to Desenzano del Garda
Sant’Angela Merici, founder of the institute “Orsoline” nel 1535
Angelo Anelli, the librettist who worked with Rossini, and who wrote the libretto of “L’Italiana in Algeri” for him
Bartolomeo Venturini, patriot and headmaster of College “Bagatta”
Cesare Dominiceti, composer
Giosuè Carducci, poet who was member of the examining board during the high school final exam at Liceo Bagatta
Giuseppe Garibaldi, captain and Italian patriot who lodged at Baresani Palace.
Achille Papa, the general who was awarded the gold medal for military value. He was buried in the military sacrarium of Oslavia, in the city of Gorizia.
Giuseppe Malvezzi, patriot
Marco Borciani, motorbiker
Guido Nicheli, actor
Mariastella Gelmini, Education Secretary
Thr Snobs, famous band of the ‘60’s.
Lake fish such as: carp, trout, whitefish, tench, pike, eel and perch are the most appreciated varieties of lake fish. Almost every restaurant of the lake area cooks it. Ancient receipts are reassessed in order to offer delicious dishes and gourmet food.
Fee paying park on the roof of the multi-storey car park in via Gramsci.
Fee paying rest area at Camping San Francesco
Strada vicinale San Franceso
25015 Desenzano (BS) Italy
Tourist Information Office A.P.T. DESENZANO
Via Porto Vecchio, 34
25015 Desenzano del Garda