From lake to land, discover Castelnuovo del Garda

Castelnuovo del Garda stretches along the delightful lakeside from Ronchi to Campanello, and attractions include a battlemented castle, the world-famous Gardaland, one of the Europe’s largest amusement parks, the Paradiso del Garda Golf Club, and ones of much older tradition, including the Ancient Fair on the hill of San Lorenzo, not to mention vineyards and olive farms. Among the more modern attractions are the year-long calendar of events staged at the Dim Civic Theatre and a nature park right by the lake. Our tour of Castelnuovo del Garda starts from the lakeside promenade with its hrightly coloured buildings.
The stretch of land leading down to Campanello harbour offers a unique blend of attractions – the Fenilazzo fort, a delightful promenade and a cane-brake where many species of water fowl nest. Here, herons, ducks, swans and cuckoos rub shoulders with the September swallows. In springtime, willows and cherry-trees blossom to the sound of tuneful birdsong.
Fishermen net fish by trade and for pleasure; tourists enjoy the lake’s specialities al fresco until November. All day long the sun plays water games, from the faint light of dawn to the glorious sunsets.
Main road no. 11 to Verona leads to Cavalcaselle, renowned since the olden days as a horse-changing post and the site of the Ancient Fair. This is where the flocks and herds stopped ofl during their migrations, where the shepherds and stock farmers hivouacked and hartered goods on their way hack from the summer pastures on Mt. Baldo. The memories of so many generations and novelties such as equestrian events, food and wine stands, stalls and exhibitions draw 20,000
visitors to the so-called Fair Hill overlooking Lake Garda and the Mincio valley. To mark the occasion the 15th century church of the Madonna of the Angels is opened up to enable visitors to admire the delightful contemporary fresco of
Mary surrounded by numerous votive Offerings. Slightly further down, on the silent hillside carpeted in vineyards, olive-groves and Cyprus trees, is the 15th century church of San Lorenzo with a Served Friars’ monastery. Further proof of the veneration of the Madonna of the Angels is Cavaggioni’s altarpiece in the 18th century parish church of San Filippo and San Giacomo. Another important work is Cignaroli’s Presentation of jesus at the Temple. Over the centuries the 17th century Palazzo has taken on the graceful appearance of a Venetian villa, the Arvedi d’Emilei.

As we proceed, harmonious architecture reaching for the sky heralds the town of Verona. High up: the Visconti tower of the “new” castle (Castrum novum, from which Castelnuooo takes its name, rebuilt after Barbarossa destroyed it in Roman times), with its inner kitchen garden, and the Romanesque bell tower of the parish church nearby. Further down: Villa Cossali Sella, a good example of a 16” century residence, with an elegant portico, loggia and dove tower. In the summer, public concerts are held here, as well as Villa Martinelli and Villa Rizzini-Saluelli in Castelnuovo, Villa Tantini in Oliosi, and at Corte Castelletti in Cavalcaselle, one of the oldest local residences, with a fireplace dating back to 1576. All the towns and villages in the area have their own sports facilities for training athletes for major events in Verona, which include junior international competitions for tennis, tamburello, athletics and football.

Moving on towards Mantua we come to Oliosi, with its lovely church at the top of a long flight of steps, at the end of an avenue lined with cypresses, protecting its mystic intimacy. As forty soldiers once protected the tricolour in 1866 by ripping it up into as many pieces prior to capture by the Austrians. The joy of the thirty -nine who survived imprisonment and succeeded in recomposing the flag is celebrated each year in the Flag Festival held on the third Sunday in june. The memory of these epic deeds of the Risorgimento, which involved many hamlets around Castelnuovo del Garda, also features in the commemoration of the French commander Villarey, at the obelisk in Mongabia.