Residence, since 1921, of poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, the Vittoriale is a citadel in the small village of Cargnacco. It occupies a large part of the Gardone territory, sloping down to the shore of the lake. Nowadays, it is a museum which welcomes 170 million visitors a year. Nothing has been changed in the Prioria, the poet’s extravagant home, filled with millions of objects and relics. The park offers stage productions, such as the large open-air theatre, exedra, pavilions and even the bow of a ship is anchored in the olive-trees.
The airplane, used by d’Annunzio to get to Vienna, hangs down from the ceiling of the Auditorium, which was turned into a War Museum in 2000 (www.vittoriale.it).
In the green hamlet of Fasano, on the river bank, you will find one of the most fascinating hotels of this area, the 5-starGrand Hotel Fasano (Via Zanardelli 190, (+39) 0365 290220).
Built at the beginning of the 19th-century, amongst its guests were members of the Habsburg family who visited the area to shoot pheasants. There is also a pier, a high tower, an outdoor swimming pool and a wonderful garden.
In 2007 the hotel will be open from April till November; double rooms are available from €200 including breakfast. The pride of the Mayrs, owners and managers of the hotel, is the recent Acqua Spa, a health centre based on natural therapies and products (open throughout the year, daily entrance €30).
Another magnificent villa, on the river bank, is the 4-star hotel/restaurant Villa Fiordaliso (Via Zanardelli 132, (+39) 0365 290014, open from March till October). Built in 1931, it is renown for having been the residence of Mussolini’s lover Claretta Petacci, during the years of the so-called ‘Repubblica di Salò’. Associated to the Relais et Chateaux hotel chain, Villa Fiordaliso has 7 stylishly furnished rooms, an indoor swimming pool and a garden on the river bank; double rooms are available from €240.
Young chef Riccardo Camanini heads the restaurant, one of the best in the area which distinguishes itself by the use of local products in mouth-watering recipes such as ravioli with bagoss (a local cheese), pork cooked in milk and various fishplates; prices from €75.
Tourism in Gardone was born however at the 4-star Grand Hotel Gardone (Via Zanardelli 84, (+39) 0365 20261, open from April till October): initially called Hotel Pizzoccolo, in the beginning it was nothing more than an inn on the river bank. It soon became the large palace which it nowadays is, with a fantastic view of the lake; double rooms with breakfast are available from €179.<>
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