The botanical garden of the André Heller Foundation is situated at 300 meters from the hotel.
It covers an area of approximately 10,000 square meters with a collection of over 2,000 different specimens of plants from different continents and climates.
Inside the park are exposed contemporary sculptures of artists like Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Mimmo Paladino. www.hellergarden.com
Built in 1910 by the German industrialist Richard Langensiepen, Villa Alba is, with its monumental staircase and ionic columns, one of the most spectacular villas in Gardone.
The villa has a tower, Ruhland, which is admired across the lake. On the right handside there is the elegant Villa Fiordaliso, now a well known restaurant.
Claretta Petacci, Mussolini's lover, lived here for one year during the Republic of Salò. In the adjacent Villa Itolanda the writer Paul Heyse spent the winters from 1899 until 1909, before receiving the Nobel Prize for literature.
The Italian Vittoriale monumental citadel was built by the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio together with architect Giancarlo Maroni from 1921 to 1938.
The Vittoriale is a complex of buildings, streets, squares, theaters, gardens and waterways. Built in memory of D'Annunzio's extraordinary life and heroic deeds of Italians during the Great War.
Among the Mediterranean olive trees and slender cypresses are placed the relics of the most daring feats: the boat MAS of the Buccari Escapade, the airplane SVA of the flight to Vienna and the bow of the cruiser Puglia reassembled on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the park.
In the highest and most panoramic point of the Vittoriale you find the Mausoleum, a monument to the war dead, where Gabriele D'Annunzio and some legionaries are buried.
In the gardens, hidden among the trunks of a magnolia grove, lie the column shafts and seats of the Arengo; down the terraces you will meet the lemon grove and orchard.
The outdoor theatre is looming with the beautiful blue lake background; inspired by ancient models, it can hold up to 1,500 people and still hosts, during the summer, theater and musical events.
The Foundation of Italian Vittoriale is open to the public all year round and is visited by about 180,000 people a year.
The island is situated near San Felice del Benaco and was for centuries the highest expression of mysticism (St. Francis founded a small community there).
Today it owes its charm to the beautiful villa in Venetian Gothic style, an imposing harmonious building, full of surprising architectural details.
Its terraces and gardens slope down to the lake.
Around the vegetation is lush and unspoiled, rich in native plants, exotic flowers and rare species followed by a harmonious forest of pines and cypresses, acacias and lemon trees, magnolias and agaves. The island of Garda is magic and mystery.
The town of Gardone Riviera with its 2700 inhabitants on the western side of the lake is mainly characterized by its luxuriant vegetation.
The hills that surround Gardone allow the area to enjoy a mild microclimate in every season. This unique climate has changed Gardone into a real botanic garden where the vegetation of Lake Garda mingles with the Middle-European, Mediterranean and subtropical ones: citrus trees, cypresses, and olive trees live in the same environment with the wonderful palm trees, camphors, cedras and agaves, protected in the several parks and gardens that trace back to the end of the 19th century.
The history of Gardone in medieval times is closely linked to the deeds of the villages on the hills. But there are three main events which have characterised its main features in recent history:
1) Gardone's history as a tourist resort dates back to the end of the 19th century, when German doctors praised the therapeutic qualities of this climate, ideal especially for long holidays . That was why Luigi Wimmer a well known personality of Austrian origins, after spending a long rest cure holiday in Gardone, fell in love with this place an decided to build the first important hotel of the Riviera here. In 1881 he became mayor of Gardone and started to advertise the town in central European newspapers: sovereigns, princes and important persons started to visit Gardone regularly, so that it changed into a well-known tourist resort.
2) From 1921 to 1938 Gardone was the last home of Gabriele D'Annunzio, one of the greatest Italian writers and poets of the 20th century, hero during World War I and a man who, with his "inimitable way of life " marked the taste of an era. His mansion, the Vittoriale, is a real fortress inside Gardone, and today a prestigious museum.
3) During the "Repubblica Sociale " (the Social Republic) from 1943 to 1945 the wonderful villas and hotels became the seat of embassies, homes to German commanding officers and hospitals.
Today Gardone is a happy island with big hotels, that are among the most refined of Lake Garda, selected restaurants by the lake and "Trattorie" restaurants specialized in cooking typical local dishes. Gardone is highly recommended for a special holiday, aimed at having fun and characterized by tranquillity and good taste.