Lake Garda

Lake Garda


Location: Verona, Brescia and Trento provinces

Info: Viale, Marcone 8, Sirmioni

Tel. 030 91 61 14 


Lake Garda or Benaco (Lach de Garda in Lombardy and Trentino; Łago de Garda in Veneto), is the largest Italian lake, with an area of about 370 km² (third in depth after Como and Maggiore). A hinge between three regions, Lombardy (province of Brescia), Veneto (province of Verona), Trentino-Alto Adige (province of Trento), it is placed in parallel to the Adige, from which it is divided by the Monte Baldo massif. To the north it is narrow and funnel-shaped while to the south it widens, surrounded by moraine hills that make the landscape more gentle. The lake is an important tourist destination and is visited by millions of people every year.

Lake Garda Map

Etymology and pronunciation

In Roman times the lake was known as Benacus and by some it was revered as god Benacus, personification of the lake itself, sometimes associated with the cult of the god Neptune. Today it is better known as Lake Garda, a toponym attested since the Middle Ages and of Germanic origin, deriving from that of the homonymous town on the Veronese shore of the lake, which, together with another famous locality of the lake, Gardone Riviera, and others less known, such as Gàrdola, Gardoncino, Gardoni, Guàrdola and Le Garde, testifies to the Germanic presence that goes from the sixth to the eighth century, in particular the Lombard one.

The toponym Garda, with which the lake is already called in some documents of the eighth century, is the evolution of the Germanic word warda, or "guard place" or "place of observation". The classic toponym of the lake, or Benācus lacus (Benaco), is almost certainly of Celtic origin, thus preceding the Roman dominion, and should derive from bennacus, comparable with the Irish bennach, and would mean "horned", or from the many promontories. The translation "horned" is also interpreted in reference to the Sirmione peninsula.

The Latin voice of Benaco is attested as Benācus, -i and therefore presupposes a flat accent (Benàco): the Italian version of the tonic accent remains faithful to the Latin accent, so it must be pronounced with the accent on "a". The inhabitants of the lake, especially those of the Veronese shore, pronounce the name Benaco with the accent on the "e", that is Bènaco. It remains unclear why natives of the lake areas tend to use the slippery accent version of the name.

According to the Venetian historian Danilo Lazzarini, the name derives from Venacus (Venetian lake). This reconstruction of the etymology is plausible according to Betacism.




The northern part of the lake is located in a depression that creeps in the NE-SW direction inside the Alps, while the southern part occupies an area of ​​the upper Po Valley: therefore there is a valley and a foothill stretch, the first narrow and elongated, the second broad and semicircular. A characteristic of Garda is the limited size of the hydrographic basin (2 290 km²) compared to the lake surface: the 95 km of the basin correspond to a length of 52 km of the lake, while the respective widths are 16 km and 42 km. The eastern watershed of the Benacense basin has a direction parallel to the axis of the lake, while the western one has a more sinuous course. Within the basin the major peaks are the Presanella peak (3 556 m) and the Adamello mountain (3 554 m), and the Monte Baldo (2 218 m), located east of Lake Garda even if most of the territory is between 65 and 1 500 m. Morphologically, the Garda catchment area can be divided into four areas: the plain of about 200 km², the lake surface of about 370 km², the western portion of about 500 km² and the eastern one of about 1 040 km².

The waters of the lake bathe numerous municipalities in the province of Brescia (Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, Lonato del Garda, Padenghe sul Garda, Moniga del Garda, Manerba del Garda, San Felice del Benaco, Salò, Gardone Riviera, Toscolano Maderno, Gargnano, Tignale , Tremosine sul Garda, Limone sul Garda), of Verona (Peschiera del Garda, Castelnuovo del Garda, Lazise, ​​Bardolino, Garda, Torri del Benaco, Brenzone, Malcesine) and of Trento (Riva del Garda, Nago-Torbole, Arco).


Morainic hills

To the south of Lake Garda, between Verona, Mantua and Brescia, a large morainic amphitheater develops, that is a succession of hilly circles with interposed small flat areas, in some cases marshy, originating thanks to the transport and storage action of the large Garda glacier. These morainic deposits were formed during the Günz, Mindel, Riss and Würm glaciations: the two oldest, the Günz and the Mindel, are attributed to very limited morainic deposits, while the outer morainic circles are attributed to the Riss glaciation and the Würm glaciation those internal. The morphology of the hills is gentle and with delicate lines; from the highest points it is possible to perceive the relationships that link the hills to the mountains as well as the circular amphitheater shape of the hills, which seem to embrace the southern part of the lake.


These areas, inhabited since prehistoric times, are environments of great naturalistic value, with vegetation typical of the Mediterranean climate such as olives, vines, agaves and other plants, which thrive thanks to the microclimate created by the Garda basin, which makes the particularly mild winter. During the spring wild flowers such as primroses, irises, violets and red lilies are born, while in the summer some varieties of wild orchids bloom. Thanks to the presence of protected areas, hares and small wild mammals, water birds and birds of prey survive, while ponds and ditches are populated by pike, carp and eels. The breeding of cattle, horses and other domestic animals give a bucolic aspect to the hilly landscape.

Particularly interesting is the avifauna, thanks to the presence of the gray and red heron, the night heron, the bittern, the little egret and many species of anatidae (for example the teal, the gargane and the mallard). The hills are an important migratory crossroads for numerous species of falconiformes and also see the presence of numerous insectivorous species that typically live in uncontaminated environments.

In the territory there are both protected areas, such as the Mincio Regional Park, the Castellaro Lagusello nature reserve and the biotype of the Frassino lake, as well as parks and gardens of great importance, such as the famous Sigurtà Garden Park.



There are five islands in the lake, all of which are quite small. The largest is the island of Garda, on which in 1220 St. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery, suppressed in the eighteenth century, and on which today stands a nineteenth-century palace in Venetian neo-Gothic style. A short distance away is the second largest island, the island of San Biagio, also known as "dei Conigli" as in the 16th century there were numerous rabbits that offered abundant hunts. The island, located at the south-eastern end of the Gulf of Manerba del Garda, is located a short distance from the coast and can be reached on foot during dry periods.

Along the eastern shore there are three other islands, all of modest size, located in the surroundings of Malcesine: the northernmost is the island of Olives, so there is the island of Sogno, also in dry periods reachable on foot from the coast, and finally the southernmost, the island of Trimelone (or Tremellone).



Water level and temperature
The average water level of Lake Garda, which is 65 meters above the sea level, undergoes rather limited seasonal variations, in particular when compared to the other large pre-alpine lakes: the maximum oscillations are 1 ÷ 1.5 meters. The limitedness of these variations is due to the considerable size of the reservoir compared to that of the catchment area that feeds it. The average temperature of its surface waters is 12 ° C, which drops to 8 ° C at a depth of 100 meters. The surface temperature of the water, however, is subject to considerable variations throughout the year: the minimum temperature in December is 6 ° C while the maximum in August is 27 ° C.

Underwater Orography
Lake Garda can ideally be divided into two parts: the north-western basin (about 93% with a maximum depth of 346 meters) and the eastern basin (with a much smaller maximum depth of about 79 meters, in correspondence with Bardolino). The subdivision is justified by the presence of a submerged fault between Sirmione and Punta San Vigilio which is almost a natural barrier, which actually hinders the homogenization between the waters of the two areas. This submerged relief has as its culmination the "Secca di Garda" (average depth 3 -5 meters) where an elastic floating beacon and a suitable signaling pole were placed: "the Pal del Vo". Instead, the maximum depth lies approximately in front of the coast between Castelletto and Brenzone.

One of the characteristic phenomena of the lake is that of the sexes, that is a sudden rise in the lake level, on average by 30 cm, connected to a sudden drop in atmospheric pressure. It is an event that occurs in calm lake conditions, which occurs without warning and whose duration can vary from a few minutes to a few hours, in exceptional cases even a whole day.


Another recurring phenomenon is that of currents, which consists in the movement of a mass of water in a different direction than the water that surrounds it. They are generally underwater currents, but they can become visible on the surface through a sort of river that flows on the surface of the lake with a lighter color than that of the surrounding waters. The currents have quite varied trends and speeds and occur in always different places and times, even if the places where they appear most frequently are in the waters in front of Garda, Bardolino, Lazise, ​​between Gargnano and the tip of San Vigilio, and to the north. in Malcesine and in Limone. The cause of this phenomenon are temperature imbalances.

Inmissaries and emissaries
The Sarca river, whose sources are fed by the Adamello and the Brenta dolomitic group, is the main tributary among the 25 tributaries. The river, which flows into the lake in the immediate vicinity of Torbole, has formed the alluvial plain of Arco. Other minor tributaries are those that descend from the mountains overlooking the lake: the Ponale, fed by Lake Ledro, the Varone or Magnone, which gives rise to the Varone waterfalls, the Campione, which formed the peninsula of the same name, the Toscolano , which formed the wide peninsula of Maderno, and the Aril or Ri, which with its 175 meters in length is considered the shortest river in Italy and one of the shortest in the world. Aril originates from a flourishing spring near Cassone, fed by the aquifers of Mount Baldo which, due to its karst nature, also gives rise to numerous underwater springs.

The feeding of the lake is almost completely controlled by man due to the construction of the Valvestino dam, the Ledro dam, the controlled payments from Lake Molveno in the Sarca and the construction of the Adige-Garda spillway channel, the Adige-Garda tunnel. , which is however used exclusively in the event of exceptional flooding of the river. The only emissary of the lake, the Mincio, is also controlled through the Salionze lock.

The modest flow of the single outlet (on average 58.4 m³ / s) compared to the large volume of water contained in the lake basin generates a condition of stasis, so much so that the waters remain in the lake for an average of 26.8 years. The slowness of the exchange is the cause of the clarity of the lake waters, even if today the thickening of the settlements, pollution and motor boats have considerably reduced the quality of the water.


Thermal sources

Among the underwater springs of Garda, the best known is the Boiola, whose peculiarity is given by the sodium-sulphurous thermal attributes that make this water of good therapeutic qualities. The source gushes about 300 meters away from the east shore of the Sirmione peninsula, at a depth of 17 meters. Until the nineteenth century the spring released bubbles in several points and without interruption that rose to the surface, where they gave off an intense smell of sulfur. The source was channeled for the first time in 1889 through a pipe that carried thermal water up to the surface of the lake, but only after numerous attempts was it possible to succeed. From this jet came out 245 liters of water per second at a temperature of 63 ° C, and thanks to this canalization, which would later bring the thermal water to the shore, the town became a popular spa in the twentieth century.

The water that flows from this source has its origin in the depths of Mount Baldo, where, at over 800 meters above sea level, meteoric water collects, and from here it makes a journey lasting about twenty years during which it descends up to over 2 100 meters below sea level, enriching itself with minerals and increasing the temperature up to 69 ° C. It is classified as bacteriologically pure mineral and hyperthermal water, and again as salsobromoiodic sulfur (as it contains a significant amount of sulfur in the form of hydrogen sulphide, sodium, bromine and iodine). It also has a large amount of trace elements, with a fixed residue of 2.476 g / l.



Lake Garda is part of that large climatic zone that includes the Po Valley and the first Alpine valleys and which denotes a temperate-continental climate, but which locally manifests conditions considerably mitigated by the mass of water: this climate can be defined as sub- Mediterranean. The place with the mildest temperatures is Malcesine, while the one with the lowest temperatures and a more continental climate is Peschiera del Garda. Rainfall is well distributed, with a relative minimum of rainfall in winter, while summer is interrupted by intense thunderstorms, especially in August. In winter, temperatures are less rigid than in the surrounding areas and rainfall is rather scarce, while the mists only manage to invade the lower lake on a few occasions. On the shores there are almost never freezing conditions of the water, which occur only exceptionally: the last notable occurred in 1709, when the entire lake froze, at the height of a period of global climatic cooling that historians call little ice age.

Garda is a lake oriented from north to south towards the Po Valley, therefore many winds typical of Garda are the result of a difference in atmospheric conditions between the lower and upper lakes, due to which winds are generated that descend from the mountains towards the plain. in the morning and ascending towards the mountains in the afternoon. The bottleneck formed by the lake basin conditions the blowing of the winds, many of which are periodic or even daily. These take dialect names, so a single wind can have different names.

The best known wind is the Pelèr (or Sover, or Sauar, or Soar, or Vént dé Sóra, from "above"), as it is often quite tense and therefore sought after by sailing enthusiasts. It is a descending wind that affects practically the whole lake, even if it is much more intense in the upper and middle Garda, as after Torri del Benaco the lake widens causing the wind to lose strength. It blows from the early hours of the night, but strengthens with the rising of the sun, due to the increase in temperature, and expires until about noon. Other mountain breezes are Montis (or Montes), which blows from Monte Baldo towards Bardolino and Peschiera, and Traersù, which instead descends from the Brescia pre-Alps towards Moniga and Manerba.

Other important winds, in this case ascending, are the Ora del Garda, a valley breeze that blows from the south shortly after the fall of the Sover until sunset. It particularly affects the middle and upper Garda, where it gains speed due to the Venturi effect, due to the funnel-shaped conformation of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and the Ander, which covers the entire lower part of the Garda.

A periodic cold wind that blows generally in spring or autumn, and with an average duration of three days, is the Balì: it is the most violent wind that hits the lake, originates in the Alps but is channeled southwards by the lake. Among the other periodical winds are the Vinessa (or Vinezza, or Vicentina) which blows moist and cool from the south-east. Other twenty periodicals but less frequent are the Toscano (or Toscà), the Pezzochero, the Gardesana, the Boaren and the Avreser.



The landscape is conditioned by the lithographic characteristics of the rocks, by the tectonic structures and in part also by the anthropic action. The importance of the tectonic structure in modeling the lake landscape is particularly evident on the Monte Baldo chain, whose ridge coincides with the culmination of an anticline. The depression of the lake, on the other hand, derives from a fold, more specifically from a faulted syncline then dug by running waters and modeled by glaciers.

Other forms have been defined by fluvial, glacial and karst erosion processes. In particular, fluvial erosion is evident in the northern area of ​​the basin, while glacial erosion is visible throughout the area: this process is made evident above all by the large morainic amphitheater created by hundreds of hills south of the lake, formed by giant boulders, pebbles, sand and silts. The advance and retreat action that the glacier has undergone over time is visible in the alternation of hilly circles. Karst processes are present above all on Mount Baldo, as demonstrated by the numerous sinkholes and basins, and these erosive processes are facilitated by the Triassic limestones of the mountain, which are easily fractured.



The most interesting questions regarding the geological data of Lake Garda are inherent to the formation of its basin, for which various hypotheses have been given: glacial excavation, central area of ​​a syncline, depression of a fault angle or river valley.

The rocks and the morainic and fluvioglacial deposits emerging in the lake area were formed over a period of about 200 million years. The most ancient formations are from the upper Triassic period and, for the most part, it is Dolomia Principale (often whitish or pink dolomites). The dolomites have a thickness of a few hundred meters and give life to a harsh morphology, which becomes evident along the summit line of Mount Baldo (here they form the nucleus of the anticline) and in a rather large area between Lake Garda and Lake Idro. The presence of dolomite identifies this as a vast marine platform: a shallow seabed, with mainly carbonate sediments, having characteristics that have varied over time from subcotidal, intertidal and supracotidal.

The rocks that go from the Jurassic to the Tertiary period, on the other hand, gave rise to very different sediments between the western and eastern sides of the lake: scholars speak in this case of Venetian facies and Lombard facies, the former a carbonate platform (i.e. a marine environment of shallow and subsident sedimentation, with sedimentation of carbonates), the second a basin (ie a deep submarine depression, with limestone and limestone-marl sedimentations rich in flint).

The clear differences between the Venetian and Lombard stratigraphic series have substantially raised three hypotheses: one explains the difference in facies as a consequence of a northward translation (of about 30 km) of the Veronese area, which would have brought distant and different environments into contact. Another hypothesis explains the differences in a different way: the Veronese and Venetian pre-Alpine area (a strip of about 80 km) would have been part of an elevated area (i.e. a platform) with respect to the two sides, the Lombard and Belluno ditches. In this case, however, the differences between the two would have been more gradual, without the abrupt passages that are evident, however, in the Lake Garda region. The third hypothesis probably cites the presence of synsedimentary fault lines that separated the platform from the pits: in this way the transition between the two facies would be more abrupt, just as is found in the surveys carried out.



Geological studies have led to the formulation of numerous hypotheses to explain the origin of the pits occupied by lakes south of the Alps, which have similar characteristics. Both Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, Como and Iseo, have an elongated shape from north to south, limited by slopes, and their bottom is in cryptodepression; everything suggests a common origin.

According to Heim's hypothesis these pits would be subsiding areas located along the Alpine margin, therefore filled with water. Measurements carried out along the N-S route through the Alpine chain have shown the occurrence of differential vertical movements, but there are not yet sufficient elements to establish when these types of movements would have started and, above all, if they are also present in the lake areas.

According to other hypotheses, these lakes occupy areas that have sunk due to the existence of two systems of subparallel faults (it would therefore be a graben); this hypothesis, however, has not been confirmed with regard to Lake Garda, whose eastern shore is a large monocline (which forms the western side of the anticline of Monte Baldo), while an important fault line.


The hypothesis of the excavation carried out by the force of the great Quaternary glaciers was proposed as early as the nineteenth century by Ramsey and is today also the best known, although the morphology of the rocky bottom of the basin (called bedrock) contrasts with this hypothesis. The bedrock of the Italian subalpine lakes lies several hundred meters below today's sea level. This suggests that the origin of the Benacense trench (and of the other subalpine lakes) derives from the massive erosive action of the watercourses during the strong lowering of the level of the Mediterranean Sea which occurred about 5.5 million years ago, when there was the closure of the connection with the Atlantic Ocean: it was at this time that all the rivers of the catchment area of ​​the sea operated a strong erosive action to connect to the sea level, thus digging very deep canyons, whose bottom is now hundreds of meters below sea level. During the Pliocene the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean was recreated, and the sea water literally invaded the deep valleys carved by these courses, depositing over time clay sediments, easily distinguishable (with seismic measurement systems) from the rocks that make up the bedrock of these valleys. Studies carried out on Lake Garda have shown that the bedrock is located about 500 m below sea level at Malcesine, and progressively lowers towards the south, reaching 1,259 m below sea level at Pacengo (south of Lazise). Only later, in the Quaternary, when the area of ​​the current lake basin appeared as a wide valley, this was occupied by glaciers that shaped the bottom and the slopes: then, however, the hydrographic basin was much wider than the current one, and it almost certainly included a large part of the Adige basin. This in fact would explain the size of the glacier (which at San Vigilio point was 1 100 m high) and the strength with which it managed to create such impressive morainic hills.


Structural geology

The Benacense region is located in the tectonic framework of the Alps, which is dominated by the movements of the Eurasian and African plates. Europe and Africa began to approach from the Upper Cretaceous, when their collision produced the raising of the Alpine chain, characterized by a structure with large blankets belonging to both the European and African crust; the latter surpassed the European one, partly covering it. This blanket structure is immediately interrupted south of the Insubric Line, which forms the border between the Alps and the Southern Alps, the latter including the Lake Garda region. The Southern Alps are the northernmost part of the African continental margin and consist of a succession of folds with a principal axis directed from east to west. The section of the Insubric Line that most affects the Garda area, as the formation of the most important structural elements is attributed to it, is the one called Linea delle Giudicarie, characterized by structures with NNE-SSW direction. The best known element having just this direction is the great fold of Monte Baldo, located along the east bank of the lake, consisting of an anticline and a syncline.

The Ballino-Garda Line cuts Lake Garda in half dividing the eastern part, which is part of the Venetian platform system, from the western one, structurally afferent to the eastern Lombard basin: the first is characterized by sub-vertical tectonic disturbances along the fault, even if there are large folds, such as that of the Baldo; the second is characterized by large overthrusts of rigid carbonate rocks on soft rocks in which lubricating surfaces were established which favored the translation movements. The bending and depressions have been attributed to a tectonic due to detachment along the detachment surfaces following the lifting of the Adamello area (however, it should be noted that a compressive component also exists along the Adamello margin). The placement of the Adamello pluto during the Paleogene led to important deformations and fractures of the sedimentary cover, even if the greatest deformations occurred when the Adamello was placed in place, that is between the Miocene and the Pliocene. Some fracturing lines are still active and it is these that cause the seismic events documented by man in this area.


Historical seismology

The oldest known earthquake that struck the Garda region seems to have occurred in 243 (or perhaps 245): it was so disastrous that the city of Benaco, located where Toscolano stands today, suddenly disappeared. The disappearance of the city of Benaco is probably due to the crack of the mountain above Toscolano, which opened up due to the earthquake and which caused the flooding of a small lake enclosed in the mountains, which submerged the populous town.

Other earthquakes in which the Garda area is directly mentioned and of particular importance were those of 793, which according to chroniclers caused great calamities especially in the Baldo area, of 1457, during which, it is said, a mountain above Salò lowered, of 1703, which on the lake caused the fall of numerous houses and caused many victims, of 1810, which particularly affected Malcesine, where it caused a clouding of the waters and the formation of a crack 200 meters long and 18 cm wide in the town square , in 1836, in which the tremors caused some landslides in Mount Tomè, in the northernmost part of Mount Baldo, which in turn caused a strong eruption of water.

In 1866 a rather long period of seismic agitation began in the Baldo, with more or less strong earthquakes, tremors, shaking and other phenomena of lesser importance, which saw as the most important event the earthquake of 5 January 1892, which at 17 the whole Garda region with extraordinary violence, causing the fall of chimneys and walls.

Other earthquakes more recently hit Salò and its surroundings, in particular the earthquake of 31 October 1901 caused widespread damage to buildings, some collapses and cracks in the ground, while the 2004 Salò earthquake caused damage to some buildings.


Flora and fauna

The succession of glaciations and thaws initially contributed to the formation of a vegetation similar to the continental European one; following a flood in the seventh century, the edge of the forest rose and the lake vegetation began to be characterized in a different way: the cultivated species increased, still typical of Lake Garda today (in particular the chestnut, the walnut, the olive tree, vines and cereals), but also the variety of wild species increased, making the lake exceptional from the botanical point of view, thanks to the climate that ranges from sub-Mediterranean on the coast to alpine in the surrounding mountains.

Going up Mount Baldo, celebrated since ancient times and known as hortus Europae, or "garden of Europe", due to the vast floristic heritage and endemisms, there is a succession of plant bands: at lower altitudes there are a large number of thermophilic species typical of humid steppe and warm climates, such as Artemisia, astragali, laurel, holm oak, badger and terebinth; going up the slope, between 400 and 800 meters, you will find the typical mid-range wood, composed of black hornbeams, ornielli ash, downy oaks, and to a lesser extent hackberry, hazelnut and pear trees; followed by a strip of broad-leaved trees made up of maple, hornbeam, ash, hazel and rowan; between 1 000 and 1 200 meters the vegetation is mainly composed of beech trees, and at slightly higher heights there are spruces and, rarer, silver firs; from 1 700 meters the alpine climate begins, with pines, low coniferous trees, rhododendrons and mountain flowers. Also on the Brescia side there is a similar succession of vegetation, even if conditioned by the significant presence of cliffs and by the lower height, which sees its maximum point in the 1 975 meters of Mount Tremalzo, against the 2 218 meters of the Valdritta peak of the chain of Bold.

The Veronese shore of Garda, supported by a favorable climate with modest temperature variations, is also called Riviera degli Olivi, present here to a significant extent, likewise, the Brescia side is also known also as Riviera dei Limoni, here cultivated in characteristic pillared gardens and pebble walls, distributed in tiers.

The fish species present in the lake are over twenty-five. Endemic species of Garda is the carpione, a salmonid that prefers the high Garda and feeds on plankton. Its meat has been appreciated since ancient times, but this has caused overfishing which has brought the species at risk of extinction. Other causes that have led the species to be endangered include the deterioration of water quality and competition from other species of alien fish. The native species of the lake are: bleak, agone, eel, common barbel, burbot, carp, chub, pike, rudd, stickleback, tench, roach, vairone and lake trout which also reaches considerable size (specimens of 15 kg were caught. ). While among the non-native ones there are: pollen, carp, bluegill, largemouth bass and perch.


Water birds are quite numerous, although some species that once stopped along the banks today no longer appear, such as flamingos and pelicans. The most common species are ducks (such as mallards, gadflies, teals and garganeys), gooseberries, herons, coots and swans. The most common palmiped, however, is the seagull, thanks to the variety of its diet.



Until the nineteenth century, the inhabitants of the lake preserved many peculiarities resulting from a centuries-old history and profound adaptations to the environment in which they lived. These peculiarities were particularly evident among the people of the upper Garda due to the less contact with the outside world, caused by the impervious territory in which they lived, which made communication difficult. This has led to the origin of a population with very specific typological and morphological features, but also to a lifestyle typical of lake people. These peculiarities have slowly been lost since the twentieth century, when contacts with the outside world became more frequent.

In the Garda area, traces of human presence have been found, related to the Middle Palaeolithic, in particular tools in flint, but only above certain altitudes, as at lower altitudes the actions of the glaciers have canceled all the clues that could have proved the presence of man . Some signs of encampments remain from the upper Paleolithic, in particular on the slopes of the Baldo and Stivo mountains, while in the Mesolithic it seems that the most frequented area was that of the Baldo due to the presence of large quantities of flint, although evidence of this period is were also found near Nago, Arco, and Manerba. In the Neolithic period the populations who inhabited the lake came into contact with the culture of square-mouthed vases, as evidenced by the objects accompanying some tombs from this period found near Arco.

The greatest evidence of human presence in prehistoric times, however, dates back to the Bronze Age, when numerous aggregates of houses on stilts arose in the lower lake, but also in the hinterland of Benaco, whose traces are rather abundant and precise, but which were nevertheless abandoned during the Iron Age in favor of more strategic points. Lake Garda was a meeting point between the populations of the Reti and those of the Venetians, whose presence is evidenced in particular by the Venetian necropolis of Garda, as well as the Etruscans who came to traffic in these areas. An invasive presence was instead that of the Cenomani, who went to settle in the area between Brescia and the lake around the sixth century BC, leaving them traces mostly in the Lombard toponymy.

Ancient history
The integration between Romans and Cenomani, who controlled the Garda area, probably began in 225 BC, when there was an alliance treaty between Cenomani, Veneti and Romans, even if the actual Romanization of the territory took place between II and I century BC, so much so that in 89 BC the rights of the Latin cities were already granted by the will of the Roman consul Gneo Pompeo Strabone and about forty years later Roman citizenship was granted in Brescia (which included the western and northern banks of the Benaco) and in Verona (which included the eastern shore instead) . A strategic century was the first century A.D. as roads of considerable importance were built, such as the via Gallica, which connected Verona with Milan passing through Peschiera (the ancient Arilica), and the via Claudia Augusta, which connected the plain with the Resia pass and therefore the more northern territories , in addition to some minor roads that connected the Adige valley with the Garda, the via Benacensis (near Torri del Benaco) and the Campiona. Two pagi were also established, that is to say rural territorial districts: that of the Benacenses on the Brescia area and the pagus of the Claudienses on the Veronese area.

In 268 the battle of Lake Benaco was fought between the army of the Roman Empire, commanded by the future emperor Claudius the Gothic, and the German federation of the Alemanni. The crushing victory obtained by the Romans allowed the final expulsion of the Alemanni from northern Italy, due to the very serious losses they suffered during the battle.

The Roman presence is amply testified by settlements, villas (in particular the well-known Grotte di Catullo), by the remains of centuriation still visible today in the plain north of Riva, by the remains of a sanctuary not far from Riva, by a necropolis located in a locality of Cavaion Veronese where numerous funeral objects were found, from some tombstones, epigraphic testimonies and from the Lazise altar.

Medieval history

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Garda region witnessed the passage of numerous barbarian populations, but the first Germanic population that settled there, after a long migration, was that of the Lombards. Their testimonies are mostly present along the southern and eastern shores, preferred to other areas due to their strategic importance: from here it was possible to control both the waterways of Garda and Mincio, and the Adige valley. . During the Lombard hegemony there was a first reorganization, as well as the definitive Christianization of the area, begun in previous centuries by San Vigilio and San Zeno. The lake remained on the border between three powerful Lombard duchies, those of Verona, Trento and Brescia, and was the center of an important communications network, both commercial and military.

Autonomous but dependent on the abbot of the Abbey of San Colombano di Bobbio (PC) since the Lombard period there was the vast and rich Priory of Bardolino, the territory was included in the Bobbiesi possessions through the control of the monastery of San Colombano di Bardolino and which therefore ultimately depended on the Holy See, with the territory of Lake Garda and eastern Garda, with the Veronese properties in Verona and between the Mincio and Adige rivers, in the Valpolicella and Veronese area and along the Via Postumia, today under three regions (Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino); together with the many possessions, the territory was included in the great monastic royal and imperial fiefdom. Still in the mid-twelfth century the document "Brief recordationis de Terris Ecclesiae Sancti Columbani" documents the Garda properties of the abbey of Bobbio.

The first documents that testify to the presence of a Fines Gardenses, an entity with its own officials for the administration of justice, even if not autonomous with respect to the Count of Verona, date back to 825, while after the year 1000 it was established by the emperor Henry II the county of Garda, also known as Judicaria gardensis, to which the entire eastern shore belonged.

Starting from the 11th century, the Garda towns began to develop a differentiated policy with respect to that of the major centers of influence - Verona, Brescia and Trento - and this greater autonomy meant that, starting from the following century, many centers became free communities. These possessed comfortable economic conditions compared to the inland countries and a strong social awareness and sense of community.

In the thirteenth century, however, the Scaligera Lordship established itself, which soon subjected the eastern shore of the lake, which was administratively included in the Gardesana and Baldo districts. The Veronese Lords built numerous defensive constructions, in particular they built the castles of Sirmione, Malcesine and Riva del Garda, strengthened the port structures of Lazise and Torri del Benaco, and built, in the hinterland, the great defensive system of the Serraglio, unique in the its kind in Italy. This fortified system, completed by Cangrande II in 1355, provided for isolated castles in Ponti and Monzambano, therefore a continuous and uninterrupted series of castles and towers connected by defensive walls that started from Valeggio sul Mincio, which were welded to the castle of Villafranca, and which then continued up to Nogarole Rocca. The Seraglio remained practically intact until the mid-nineteenth century, after which it was partially dismantled.

Modern history
In 1387 the whole Garda territory was subjected to the Visconti, following the defeat of Antonio della Scala, but in 1405 the eastern bank passed into the hands of the Republic of Venice thanks to the dedication of Verona to Venice, while the western bank was still afflicted by fights between Ghibellines and Guelphs. In 1426 the Viscontis lost Brescia (and therefore also the western shore of the lake) which passed into the hands of Venice, also in this case through dedication: the 34 Benacense municipalities obtained from the Serenissima great autonomy and in Salò the administrator of the Riviera was established. The war returned to blood in the waters of the Gardens in 1438, due to the war between Venice and Milan: an exceptional event, also remembered as Galeas per montes was the passage of a fleet, consisting of six galleys and twenty-five ships, on the slopes of Mount Baldo , pulled by 2 000 oxen. This fleet sailed on the Adige and almost reached Rovereto, from where it was transported to Lake Garda by land through the valley of Lake Loppio (the journey lasted 15 days). The fleet was used in the lake to counter the Milanese one and had its greatest success in an important battle near Riva del Garda, when the city capitulated.


In 1508 the league of Cambrai was formed (which also had aims on the Garda region) against the Republic of Venice: Venice strengthened the castles of its mainland domains, including those of Salò and Padenghe, and sent galleys to the lake, as well as having new ones built directly on Lake Garda, at the Lazise arsenal. During the war the Venetians lost part of their domains which were however recovered in 1512, when the administrator was able to return to Salò. In 1516, Emperor Maximilian I came to Italy and the Riviera returned to German hands again, but his sudden return to Germany allowed the Serenissima to recover the lost territories.

For a long time the territory was not directly affected by wars: only in 1701 it was involved in the war of the Spanish succession, when the Spanish and French positioned themselves in the Brescia valleys and on Monte Baldo, in order to stop the descent of the imperial troops. Years later some areas were occupied by the imperial troops, but the sending of ambassadors by the Serenissima, which had remained neutral, was of no avail. Indeed, during the stay of French and German troops there were numerous clashes and the inhabited centers were bombed several times by ships. Only in June did the war move from the lake to other territories.


Contemporary history

Napoleonic period
In 1786 the famous German scholar Wolfgang Goethe stayed in Torbole and Malcesine, while exactly ten years later the lake was involved in the Napoleonic wars: at the end of May the French advanced to the lake and on the 30th they defeated the Austrians in Borghetto sul Mincio and conquered Peschiera. . At the end of July the French were defeated and had to retreat beyond Salò, which was occupied by the Austrians. Numerous clashes took place between the opponents on the battlefield of Lake Garda. The following year the French also occupied Mantua, while the Brescia valleys and the Riviera rose up, even if the Republic of Venice maintained its status of neutrality and did not send aid to rescue. The Veronese, on the other hand, autonomously organized expeditions against the centers occupied by the French, but were defeated and were forced to retreat to Verona, where the anti-French insurrections called "Pasque Veronesi" began on 17 April. On October 17, however, the Treaty of Campoformio was signed: the south-western shores went to the French, while the north-eastern shores to the Austrians. In 1799 the war continued along the lake, even with raids from the water, and the following year the Riviera returned to French hands: the lake became part of the Cisalpine Republic (later transformed into the Italian Republic and then again into the Kingdom of Italy , always under French control), being divided between the Mella department (the western shore) and the Mincio department (the eastern shore).

Following the definitive defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1815, a process of re-establishing the power of the absolute rulers of the Ancien Régime began, a process that took the name of Restoration. During the congress of Vienna it was decided, contrary to the guiding principles of the congress itself, not to reconstitute the Republic of Venice, from whose ashes the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom was born: in this way the whole Garda region returned to Austrian hands. The two Napoleonic departments were replaced by the province of Verona and the province of Brescia, while the Trentino area with Riva del Garda was joined to the county of Tyrol.

Wars of Independence
The first war of independence saw an initial, slow advance of the Piedmontese army: at the news of its approach, Salò rebelled against the Austrian yoke, several soldiers were taken prisoner and the Austrian insignia demolished. During the events also Riva del Garda and several towns on the Veronese side rose up. The Austrian army was forced to withdraw on the Mincio line due to the advance of the Piedmontese troops and on 4 April the Austrians were driven out of Lonato and Desenzano, while the Piedmontese attempt to conquer Peschiera was unsuccessful. After the Piedmontese defeat of Custoza, an armistice was signed and the pre-war status quo was restored.


In 1859 the second war of independence began; on 18 June the hunters from the Alps managed to enter Salò, from where Giuseppe Garibaldi wanted to leave to continue his advance towards Veneto by crossing the lake with some boats, but new orders forced him to move the troops to the Brescia valleys. The Italian troops, however, managed to sink an Austrian steamship before leaving Salò. Shortly after the battle of Solferino and San Martino was fought, won by the Franco-Savoyards, and Peschiera was besieged, but with the armistice of Villafranca the war ended: Garda returned to become a borderland, on this occasion between Italians and Austrians.

During the third war of independence Garibaldi returned to Salò again, from where the preliminary advance to the invasion of Trentino began. Meanwhile, the Austrian gunboats that plowed the lake repeatedly bombed Gargnano and tried to impose their dominance by hindering the operations of Giuseppe Garibaldi's Italian Volunteer Corps. Despite the humiliating Italian defeat by sea and land, the Veneto was handed over to the Kingdom of Italy, except for the northern part of the lake, which still remained under Austrian control.

World Wars
During the First World War they fought on the upper Garda, in particular north of the Monte Baldo massif. On 23 July 1915 the first aerial bombardment took place in the area, when Riva del Garda was hit, while on 10 August Malcesine was bombed and on 25 October Riva again. The steamers of the lake were requisitioned by the Italian army and were re-equipped as warships. The following year some guns and artillery batteries were installed, but on February 20 Riva was hit again. The following day three Austrian planes bombed Desenzano, while on February 27 bombs fell in Nago and Torbole. In 1918, while fighting raged on the Baldo, Riva was bombed again. Subsequently, Limone and, once again, Riva were targeted, but with the end of the war the Trentino side also passed into Italian hands.

In the period between the two wars, the poet poet Gabriele D'Annunzio settled in Gardone Riviera, where the Vittoriale degli Italiani, his residence and now a museum, would later rise. In 1922 there were some squad episodes: the most important were against the socialist circle of Desenzano and the municipal administration of Toscolano.

Until 1943, the events of the Second World War did not particularly affect the lake region, but following the birth of the Italian Social Republic, the German command settled in Limone and, on 10 October, that of Benito Mussolini in Gargnano, the town where they are based. 530 SS patrol; the Ministry of Defense was based in Desenzano; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Popular Culture and the press agencies (the latter two centered on Villa Amadei) settled in Salò; Fasano was the seat of the German embassy and Gardone of the Japanese one, while the Ministry of the Interior and the Fascist Republican Party found accommodation in Maderno. Clara Petacci, the lover of the Duce, settled in the Vittoriale guesthouse. The thirty part of the lake was also occupied militarily by the Wehrmacht. Soon the XV Leonessa Armored Group was formed in Brescia, while in Verona the "Mussolini", "Folgore" and "Abbi fede" battalions came to life. Mussolini left Gargnano to move to Milan in a procession of six cars on April 18, 1945.

A first heavy bombardment hit the railway viaduct of Desenzano del Garda on 22 July 1944, while the post office of Torri del Benaco and the anti-aircraft positions of Malcesine were machine-gunned by planes. Subsequently repeated bombings were carried out on some inhabited centers of the Veronese shore. In 1945 the skies above Lake Garda were the scene of the last battles between Anglo-American and Italian-German fighters.


Populated centers

In the fifteenth century, Marin Sanudo made a review of the major inhabited centers of the lake: Peschiera, Lazise, ​​Cisano, Bardolino, Garda, San Vigilio, Torri, Pai, Brenzone, Malcesine, Torbole, Riva, Limone, Gargnano, Bogliaco, Toscolano, Maderno, Salò, Manerba, Desenzano, Rivoltella and Sirmione. This list of centers, which at the time must have had an important military, commercial or residential role, can still be considered quite valid today, a sign that the anthropic geography of the lake was now well established.

All these centers are located along the shores of the lake, testifying to the importance of the relationship with water for the Benacense people: before the arrival of tourism they were centers mainly dedicated to fishing, commerce and navigation, while in the hinterland ( in the hills or mountains) the small villages were dedicated to pastoralism and agriculture. The urban centers were in fact bourgeois cities in miniature, complete with churches, public buildings, squares, the castle and the walls that separated them from the bucolic outside world. Today these small towns also extend outside the ancient walls, and the dividing function between the urban world and the more natural one is now carried out by the rapid slopes of the mountains and the hills that surround the coast. Between the centers, since ancient times, there has always been a road that surrounded the lake, where all those arriving from the cities and towns of the hinterland converged. The major centers, Desenzano, Peschiera, Lazise, ​​Garda, Malcesine, Riva, Salò, still give the idea of ​​being reference points for large surrounding areas.

In such inaccessible places and with little space available, villages often arose, and do arise, perched along the coast, with houses leaning against each other and with streets, consequently, narrow and irregular, all without a rational vision of together.

Only the Scaligeri were able to rearrange the urban layout of some centers. The Scaligera domination was in fact the domination that most of all left traces on the territory, through the construction of castles and walls around the towns, creating a well-integrated defensive system: the major transformations concerned Sirmione, Peschiera, Lazise, ​​Bardolino, Garda, Malcesine and Riva . Sirmione, built on the peninsula south of the lake, saw the construction of an imposing castle with a military port, and defensive walls with towers around the village. Peschiera del Garda also had an important function, as a barrier of the Mincio river, so its walls were enlarged by the Scaligeri, then demolished and rebuilt by the Serenissima, with a more modern type of fortification. Lazise underwent an even more drastic rationalization, coming to resemble a Roman city: the city, surrounded by walls, assumed a quadrangular plan and inside the streets were traced according to an orthogonal urban layout. The walls of Bardolino were completely demolished in the 19th century, and even those of Garda and Malcesine (where the perched castle remains, however) have largely disappeared today. Riva del Garda, strategically important for communications with the Sarca river valley, was equipped with walls and a castle.

The Brescia side also featured equipped villages, such as Desenzano, Maderno, Manerba, and in particular Salò. If during the Scaliger dominion the villages were characterized by the walls and castles, during the Venetian one in the various villages a new layout was given to the squares, and at the same time palaces and churches were built, even outside the medieval walls: on both sides of the lake - western and eastern - the peace under the Serenissima gave impetus to construction, so much so that in Garda and Salò the walls were demolished to make room for the new buildings. Peschiera del Garda was the only city that saw its military function strengthened: in the 16th century, the Venetians demolished the Scaligera fortress and built the new mighty walls to be artillery-proof; subsequently the Austrians expanded the military structures and built an external entrenched camp. This function became oppressive for the city economy which recovered only thanks to the spread of mass tourism. The Austrian domination also left evident signs in Riva del Garda, which was literally surrounded by a series of forts.



Already in Roman times, particularly from the early imperial age, magnificent villas were present on the shores of the lake conceived as places dedicated to otium, an activity in fact reserved for the ruling classes, and for leisure, due to the naturalness of the site. In particular, Sirmione was a privileged place for the presence of sulphurous springs that allowed a thermal use, in fact here are the archaeological remains of a Roman villa known with the name of Grotte di Catullo, one of the most important Roman remains on the lake. Starting from the Renaissance, the shores returned to be populated with noble villas, conceived as urban facts to contrast with the countryside, making the lake, and especially the north-western area, a destination for elite tourism, but tourism in the modern conception of term developed from the end of the nineteenth century, even if, obviously, it was still an elite tourism that concerned almost exclusively the north-western area of ​​the lake, "for the goodness of the climate, for the abundance of waters, for the variety of products , for grandeur and playfulness of the landscape, courtesy of the inhabitants ". One of the first tourist resorts was Gardone Riviera, where Luigi Wimmer, in love with the place, decided to build a small hotel, which was completed after his death by his wife: expanded over time, it became one of the buildings that made up the luxurious Grand Hotel Gardone Riviera. In its vicinity other small hotels and villas slowly rose and, after the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio had the Vittoriale degli Italiani built here, the fame of the place increased further.

On the Veronese shore, however, tourism arrived much later, around the 1930s, when the current eastern Garda road along the shores of the lake was built (previously in many points the road did not proceed along the shore, but further upstream). And with the arrival of tourists, "lakeside promenades" were planned, that is, pedestrian walkways along the shores of the lake in inhabited centers: to build them, however, numerous houses that faced directly along (in some cases above) the Garda were partially demolished.

Since the Second World War, tourism has undergone a sort of transformation: tourism with a long stay has been accompanied by "hit and run" tourism, with a short stop, just for the weekend or even for a few hours. The first is fed by tourists who want to spend their holidays on the lake, coming from a large area (in addition to Italians, numerous Germans, French, Swiss, Dutch and other foreigners), while the second is fed by those who live a short distance from the lake, and who want to spend a few hours of leisure there. Both types of tourism have caused notable changes in the organization of the territory and inhabited centers. In recent years, two other types of tourism have developed, the excursion one, for which adequate infrastructures have been created, and the "second home" one, for which new regulations have been introduced.

Furthermore, in the second half of the twentieth century, a real entertainment industry was formed along Lake Garda and in its immediate vicinity, in fact a series of parks were born, now known collectively as the Garda Parks. The most important of these are Gardaland, a theme park with numerous tourist attractions, an accommodation facility and a spectacular aquarium, Canevaworld, which presents the guest with two different parks, one themed on the world of cinema and a water park, Parco Natura Viva , a wildlife park where you can see endangered species that the park treats and then reinserts freely, and Parco Giardino Sigurtà, a 60-hectare green oasis along the Mincio river.

During the high season and the holidays the traffic is very intense, and the banks have now reached complete saturation, which have almost become a single urban agglomeration, with villas, hotels, campsites and many other tourist buildings, all distributed along the only axis of flow, so much so that today the construction of receptive structures has begun in the innermost prestigious areas (Monte Baldo, Lessinia, Valpolicella, morainic hills and Brescia valleys).




In the Garda region only the cultivation of the olive tree can compete for the supremacy of the vine, here there are in fact the climatic conditions and the soil suitable for the growth of the vine, which is present in particular in the southern and central areas of both banks. We do not know who introduced this plant in this environment or when, but some testimonies report that already in the first century Garda wine was well known and could easily be found in the banquets of the ancient Romans with the name of Rhaetian Wine. Rhaetian was one of the favorite wines of Emperor Augustus, at least according to what Suetonius tells us, and Pliny also praises the vines and Rhaetian grapes, stating that it was quite in vogue in Rome.

The wines of Garda, in particular from the Veronese side, are still precious and rather sought after today, particularly the Bardolino produced between Peschiera and Malcesine and of which Goethe speaks in his Journey to Italy. Red in color, it has a delicate scent and a pleasant flavor.


Olive growing

On the lower slopes of the mountains, on the hills and in the plains along the lake, the olive tree finds favorable conditions to thrive: the mountains protect it from cold boreal winds while the lake is a vital source of heat, moreover particularly suitable for the cultivation of he olive tree is the earth, usually gravelly, especially when covered with a layer of clay mixed with sand. On both the western and eastern banks, the plant dominates unchallenged. Of the olive tree, formerly cultivated in Asia Minor and Egypt, from where it seems to have spread to Greece and then to Italy during the Roman dominion, the times of introduction and diffusion in the Benacense basin are not known with certainty as, despite the first documents that speak of this culture near Garda date back to the eighth century, this culture was almost certainly already present in the area for some centuries.

The most common varieties of olive trees on the western shore of Garda are Gargnà, Casaliva and Miol, while on the eastern shore the presence of Raza is preeminent, even if Favarol, Gargnà and Casaliva, Trep and Miol. Along the shores of Lake Garda is produced the Olio del Garda, an extra virgin DOP oil of high quality, such as to compete with the olive oils of other Italian regions, even if quantitatively the production is rather low.


Citrus growing

In the Garda region, especially on the Brescia side, various species of citrus fruits are grown, probably introduced by the maritime republic of Genoa after being imported from the East: lemon, cedar, orange, mandarin and bergamot.

Local popular tradition attributes the introduction of the lemon to the friars of the Franciscan order who in the thirteenth century resided in a monastery still present today (even if with a different intended use) in Gargnano, in whose internal courtyard there is a portico on the whose columns are carved oranges and lemons. In Maderno, on the other hand, there is a former convent in which tradition has it that the friars planted the lemon for the first time, a hundred years after its introduction to Gargnano. However, it is not possible to know with certainty who and when introduced citrus fruits to the lake, it can still be said, thanks to some documents, that already in the fifteenth century their cultivation was widespread and flourishing.

The way in which citrus fruits are repaired through large greenhouses made of local stone and wood is very particular: along an esplanade, generally facing south, citrus fruits are cultivated, north of this esplanade runs a long wall generally more than ten meters high closed on the sides by two walls of smaller dimensions but the same height. On the south front, on the other hand, there are pillars about ten meters high and placed four meters apart, above which the beams that form the skeleton of the ceiling rest, and above these are the secondary beams that complete the roof. The spaces between one pillar and another can be closed by windows designed to be easily removed when there is no need to use them. Very often others are made above the first shelf, thus forming a sort of staircase or amphitheater. This method of building greenhouses began in the first half of the seventeenth century, although in the previous century there were more archaic forms of these greenhouses, which later evolved.


Infrastructure and transport

The lake is located at the center of a crucial node, between Verona, Trento and Brescia, and is therefore easily reachable via the transversal infrastructures of the Po Valley and those of the Brenner-Rome axis:

A4 motorway
Desenzano exit
Sirmione exit
Peschiera del Garda exit

A22 Motorway
Verona Nord exit
Affi - Lago di Garda Sud exit
Rovereto Sud - Lago di Garda Nord exit


Lake Garda is served by a road network that runs along the entire lake and is made up of the following infrastructures:

State road 11 Padana Superiore: from Desenzano del Garda to Peschiera del Garda
State road 45 bis Gardesana Occidentale: from Salò to Riva del Garda
State road 249 Gardesana Orientale: from Peschiera del Garda to Riva del Garda
State road 572 of Salò: from Salò to Desenzano del Garda


Public transport is guaranteed by regular bus rides from the ATV (Azienda Trasporti Verona), Brescia Trasporti and Trentino Trasporti companies.

The Garda region can be reached directly by the Milan-Venice railway, with the railway station of Desenzano-Sirmione and the station of Peschiera. In the past, however, Garda could make use of a denser rail transport network, as some railway and tram lines have been decommissioned over the years: the Rovereto-Arco-Riva railway (closed for operation in 1936), the Brescia-Salò tramway (1954), the Verona-Caprino-Garda railway (1959), the Mantua-Peschiera railway (1967) and the Desenzano-Desenzano Porto railway (1969).

The lake area is mainly served by the nearby Verona-Villafranca airport. It is an airport used during the Second World War by the Regia Aeronautica and which became a civil airport in the early sixties, when it was connected by some charter flights with Northern Europe and by means of daily connections with Rome. In 1978 the company was founded which then transformed the airport into a real airport, then redeveloping it entirely at the beginning of the nineties, also expanding the aircraft and car parking areas, and creating the connection with the new Verona ring roads. , thus leading to a significant improvement in its accessibility, so much so that in 1995 the airport exceeded one million passengers in one year, in 2001 it reached two million, and in 2006 it exceeded three million passengers.

Not far from the lake there is also the Brescia-Montichiari airport which welcomes national and international scheduled flights for passengers, although it is mainly used for cargo and postal services.

The history of public navigation on the waters of Lake Garda began in 1827, when the first steamboat on Lake Garda was launched, the Archduke Ranieri: a wooden boat used to transport both goods and passengers. About ten years later it was replaced by a steamer with similar characteristics, which connected Riva del Garda to Peschiera and Desenzano. Furthermore, between 1830 and 1839, a rather curious boat was in operation, L'amico a proora, better known as Manubrio, which sailed offshore thanks to the sailing apparatus, but moved close to the coast thanks to the action of eight horses that turned the paddle wheel of the boat by a series of gears. In 1885 two boats of 300 people each were launched, the Angelo Emo and the Lazzaro Mocenigo, while in 1903 the Zanardelli was launched, with a capacity of 800 passengers, flagship of the lake fleet still in service today. Six years later, the steamship Italia entered service, which is still in use today.

During the First World War the navigation service was militarized, a squadron of MAS was also made operational, a small and fast boat used as an assault vehicle by the Royal Navy on which a dozen men generally operated. During the Second World War the fleet on Lake Garda suffered considerable damage following Allied and German bombings.

In 1958 the first hydrofoil in service on the lake was launched, the Freccia del Garda, and again, a few years later, the hydrofoil Freccia degli ulivi was launched. In 1959 the Ticino ferry entered service, which operated between Maderno and Torri del Benaco, followed a few years later by the Regina del Garda, and in 1980 by the Brennero ferry-boat, capable of carrying 800 passengers and 50 cars. From 1967 onwards, the management of Navigarda passed to the Ministry of Transport, which located the administrative headquarters in Desenzano and the shipyard in Peschiera.

Private motorized navigation on the lake is only permitted over 300 meters away from the shore, with the exception of the promontory of Sirmione, the gulfs of Salò and Manerba and Isola del Garda, where it is allowed over 150 meters. The Trentino part of the lake is completely forbidden to motor navigation. The maximum speed is 20 knots during the day and 5 knots during the night. It is possible to practice the sport of water skiing in favorable weather conditions between 8 and 20, while surfing can be done from one hour after sunrise to one hour before sunset, both at a safe distance from the areas bathing.