Salò faces the gulf with the same name. The name may derive from “Salodia”, an Etrurian queen, or from the word “Salodium”, referring to the Roman villas’ rooms by lake Garda. But the most accredited theory considers the name deriving from the role of the town as economical centre of the area, where salt was stored.
Salò is at risk of earthquakes, since it stands on a seismotectonic area. Important earthquakes occurred in 1901, when numerous houses were razed, and on the 24th of November 2004. Their intensities were both classified in the VIII division of the Mercalli scale.
Height: 65m above sea level
Surface: 29 km2
The Roman village was built on previous settlements of the Neolithic. An accurate campaign of excavation of the ‘70’s revealed a necropolis and various grave-goods. At the beginning of the XIV century the coastal communities formed the Riperia Lacus Gardae Brixiensis, a federation with Maderno as main city.
In order to keep its independence, Salò accepted to be ruled by the Republic of Venice, since it was pretty far from the village. Salò was eventually taken by the Visconti family, but the Republic of Venice reconquered it in 1428 and gave Salò the title of “Magnifica Patria”.
In 1580 San Carlo Borromeo visited Salò. When Napoleon arrived in 1796 Salò was no longer “Magnifica Patria”, and after the Treaty of Campoformio passed under the Habsburg domination. After the Renaissance movements in 1848, Salò entered the Reign of Sardinia and eventually the Reign of Italy.
During the first years after the unification of Italy, Salò became the main city of the Riviera and of Valsabbia Valley, probably because of Giuseppe Zanardelli’s influence.
On the 30th of October 1901 a violent earthquake occurred in Salò and most buildings were destroyed. Churches, palaces, houses, squares and the lakeside had to be rebuilt.
During the year 1943 Salò hosted the Italian Social Republic. It was chosen for being close to Germany (which, at that time, included the region of Trentino and extended to Limone). In many buildings the ministerial and organizing activities of the ISR were carried on.
After the second world war Salò started being considered as a tourist resort.
What to see
Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata. It contains some works of Romanino, Moretto, Zenone Veronese and Paolo Veneziano.
Monumental Graveyard. It was designed by Rodolfo Vantini.
Church of San Bernardino (XV century). It contains pictures of Zenone Veronese and Andrea Celesti.
Church of Madonna del Rio. Also known as “Sancuary”, it stands at the bottom of a valley 3 Kms far from Salò and it’s reachable crossing a small bridge.
According to a local tradition, the Virgin appeared in that very place after being invoked by some shepherds who were worried about the swelling river.
As a symbol of her celestial presence, the Virgin left a footprint on a white stone in the cave washed by the “acque del Rio” (= water of the river). In order to consecrate this apparition, in XVIII the sanctuary was built.
Church of San Bartolomeo. It raises in the suburb of San Bartolomeo, North of Salò, on the mountain side with the same name.
It would hold the “Magnifica Patria” Council, while today it hosts the town council.
It hosts the Ateneo of Salò, the present version of the ancient Accademia degli Unanimi.
Martinengo Palace, in the suburb of Barbarano. It was built on behalf of the Captain of the Republic of Venice.
They both have remained intact. The one standing at the top of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II was transformed into a Clock Tower and it’s one of the town symbols.
Nastro Azzurro Museum
At Coen Palace, the exhibition gathers numerous relics and documents awarded for military valour from 1793 till today and without any ideological distinction.
Archaeological Museum A. M. Mucchi
It’s hosted in the XVI century Coen Palace and contains the finds of a Roman necropolis: funeral trappings, grave-goods, coins and ritual objects.
Celebrations and feasts
Feast of Sant’Antonio. It’s a traditional and popular feast organized in June near S. Antonio Square.
Feast of the tastes. It’s a food and wine event organized by Comunità Vecchi Scout di Salò. It’s held at Baden Powell gardens at the beginning of October.
Villa in Festa. It’s one of the best popular feasts in Salò. It’s organized in the suburb of Villa at the end of September.
Filmfestival del Garda. It’s organized by Cineforum Feliciano, Filmagazine.it, Cinema Teatro Cristal and by the councils of Salò and San Felice in association with the Province of Brescia and Region Lombardia.
During the Festival, people can enjoy artistic events, exhibitions and concerts inspired by the art of making movies.
Festival Violinistico Internazionale “Gasparo da Salò”. During the festival basically dedicated to the violin and the famous lutist Gasparo da Salò, people can also enjoy performances of the best European orchestras conducted by international Maestros.
Feralpi Salò football team plays in the second division championship and it trains at the town stadium.
The society “Canottieri Garda Salò” promotes several water activities, such as sailing, swimming and rowing. The society owns a dock for members only where about 120 boats moor.
Household name connected to Salò
Pietro da Salò, sculptor . Some of his works were used to decorate the balcony of Palazzo Ducale
Giovanni Andrea Bertanza, painter (XVI and XVII century)
San Carlo Borromeo, patron of Salò, arrived in Salò as an apostolic visitor in 1580.
Gasparo da Salò, lutist (1540-1609). According to intellectuals, he’s one of the possible inventors of the modern violin.
Giuseppe Zanardelli, Italian politician (1826-1903)
Angelo Landi, painter. Some of his works are shown at Vittoriale, at the Savoy Hotel in Gardone Riviera and at the Laurin Hotel in Salò.
Angelo Zanelli, sculptor
Luigi Comencini, Italian director. He was born in Salò in 1916.
In Salò tourists can find numerous good restaurants and holiday farms offering real gourmet food. Lake fish is mainly used to prepare typical courses, which are often renewed in order to taste better and better and to be appreciated also by international tourists.
Tourist information office A.P.T. Salò