Travel Guide of Lazise, Veneto, Italy

Lazise is an Italian town in the province of Verona in Veneto, located along the eastern shore of Lake Garda. This geographical location gives it a position of great landscape value, but there are also elements of great architectural value and of considerable historical importance. As well as these peculiarities, Lazise can rely on the presence of many attractions: a thermal spring situated in Colà, two amusement parks and an extensive hilly agricultural landscape.

The area boasts a splendid climate, thanks to the presence of Lake Garda: temperate but almost Mediterranean, with a dry summer with occasional thunderstorms and rather mild winters. There is many beach life and water sports. Have fun in the water parks and theme parks, the Zoo Safari Natura Viva Bussolengo, while wellness lovers in Thermal Park Villa of the Cedars.

The territory of Lazise comprises a coastal strip on the lake and a vast inland area made up of the moraine hills that gently fall on the lake, among the olive groves and vineyards that stand out with rows of cypress trees. The village is entirely surrounded by a medieval wall with six towers, dominated by the great Rocca Scaligera, on the shores of the lake. The buildings and houses are made of stone, often very old, and most retain the original architectural structures.

As the first destination of Italian lake tourism, Lazise offers one of the most beautiful walks in the whole of Lake Garda. Along the arcades of Lazise there are houses, bars, restaurants and shops that also continue inside the characteristic alleys, some of which retain the name of “calle”. The marina is the starting point for numerous excursions and an excellent base for pleasure boating to discover the shores of Lake Garda. In Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and at the marina, still animated by the fishing boats. Those who love the beach life can choose from some beautiful beaches.

Lazise has always boasted a great tourist vocation for the amenity of the climate and the beauty of these places, and already in ancient times illustrious men and great artists chose it to relax. Among the people linked to Lazise were the Veronese Catullo, Goethe and Klimt.

The area offers classic river sports, quiet walks on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, along rural roads with modest slopes. In the surrounding area, the economy is also based on agriculture, in particular with the production of olives for the renowned Garda extra virgin olive oil; other products are wine grapes, vegetables, fruit and fodder. Cattle breeding is also practiced.

Its name derives from the Latin “lacus” which means lacustrine village. Lazise in fact was originally a group of stilt houses beyond that Roman village and market. Between 888 and 961, during the reign of Berengar II of Italy and his son, the town was subject only to the monarch, that is, it was a “free villa” not subject to some feudatory. In 961, Italy was invaded by German troops, who descended the valley of the Adige to camp on the shores of Garda.

In 983, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I granted Lazise the right to fortify itself and establish trading rights. It is considered as the first and oldest comune in Italy, and perhaps all of Europe. The medieval Church of Saint Nicolò has frescoes dating from the 12th century, by the school of Giotto.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Lazise was occupied by the Scaligeri of Verona who built the castle and encircled the town with walls. The defenses yielded, after a siege lasting ten consecutive days, on 13 October 1387, effectively handing over the city first to the Visconti and in a second moment to the Paduan aristocratic family of the Carraresi.

In 1405, it came under Venetian Republic rule until Napoleon conquered northern Italy in 1796. The 14th century La Pergolana villa, a kilometre north of Lazise, hosts a honey festival during the first weekend of October. The customs house from the 16th century was constructed to control trade on the lake. After the Congress of Vienna (1815) it entered a period of Austrian rule, until in 1866, it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.

Over the centuries, famous people visited the lake, including Catullus, Goethe and Gustav Klimt, but the mass tourism phenomenon in Lazise began after World War II, Lazise began to invest in tourism, building accommodation facilities, such as hotels and campsites. Thus the municipality of Lazise, with three and a half million visitors in 2017, is the country with the largest tourist influx of the Garda Riviera and one of the largest in Italy.

Main Attractions
The city is a holiday destination, and attracts tourists from the immediate area owing to its views of the Alps from the southern shore of Lake Garda. At the center of the city is a series of interconnected piazze that house numerous open-air cafés, various shops, gelaterie (ice-cream parlours), and bars.

The city of Lazise is a unique atmosphere is due to a mixture of wonders. The charming alleys of the historic center, with their medieval imprint, overlooked by the historic buildings, as well as the beautiful lakefront.

Admire the Ancient Walls of Cinta with its three gates. The Scaligero Castle, by far one of the best preserved among those overlooking Lake Garda. This was built around the year 1000, probably on Roman foundations, as a fortification in defense against the Hungarians.

The Venetian customs house overlooking the waters of the lake, this historic building from the fourteenth century is impressive yet elegant at the same time. Over the centuries its intended use has changed several times. Today it is a splendid location for ceremonies, but also meetings and events.

The Piazza Vittorio Emanuele with its checkerboard floor, and especially at sunset, with the first lights that come on, it gives breathtaking colors. From this enchanting one you can see the small and pretty harbor, with its boats cradled by the waters of the Garda. Looking at the lake, on the left stands the bell tower of the Church of San Nicolò. This Romanesque church built in the twelfth century is dedicated to San Nicolò from Bari, protector of sailors.

The Renaissance Villa de Beni or the romantic Villa Buri is not to be missed, where numerous events are held including guided tours and workshops. The association that manages the latter, in fact, carries out interesting projects, and it is worth inquiring in time to find out which initiative will be carried out on the day of your arrival.

The two hamlets of the municipality of Lazise di Pacengo and Colà, here you can admire the cultivation of olive trees and vines from which two excellences are produced: the extra virgin olive oil of Garda and the wines produced on site, in this territory that remains firmly anchored to the traditions of the past.

There are numerous hotels on the shores of Lake Garda with SPA and wellness services. The enchanting Garda Thermal Park of Villa dei Cedri certainly stands out, where a thermal spring gushes out that will allow you to regenerate between hours immersed in the beneficial waters, walks among the centuries-old beech trees and the elegant architecture of Villa Moscardo.

Relax in the sun on one of the beaches of Lazise, sandy beaches such as Fossalta beach or pebble beaches such as Lido Olivi where you can also rent sun beds and umbrellas, surfboards and canoes. There are numerous points where to practice water sports on Lake Garda, the hinterland offers various possibilities for cycling and mountain biking enthusiasts, enjoy the beauty of the landscapes by pedaling. into the green.

Canevaworld Resort is a large entertainment hub comprising several distinct areas. The entire complex consists of 5 different parks, each dedicated to a different theme including: swimming pools and slides, restaurants, theme parks, discos and shows. The very famous Gardaland, is located in part right on the territory of Lazise.

Scaliger Castle
The most imposing building in Lazise is the Scaligero castle and the walls surrounding the historic center. Walls and towers are in a fairly good state of conservation and represent a perfect example of a typical Scaliger fortification.

The castle was built during the domination of the lords of Verona Bartolomeo II and Antonio della Scala, or perhaps shortly before by the father Cansignorio della Scala (since the Porta Nuova bears the date 21 May 1376). The town has always had three entrance gates equipped with portcullis and drawbridges: Porta Superiore, now commonly called Porta San Zeno, for access from the east; porta Lion (so called because it bore the coat of arms of the Serenissima), for access from the south; Porta Nuova (so called because it was last built), today commonly called Porta Cansignorio, due to its access from the north. The castle suffered the injury during the siege of the Venetians in July 1438, and again in May 1528 by the army of Charles V.

Coming from the southern part of the lake and along the main road known as the Gardesana, the image that will make you understand that you have arrived in Lazise is the magnificent Scaligero Castle. Built between 1375 and 1381 and belongs to the complex of defensive works of the Verona area. You can arrive in one of the main streets that flank the Rocca Scaligera and lead into the town center, via Rosenheim. The name chosen for this street derives from the German city twinned with Lazise.

In the 16th century, with the advancement of new technologies and war tactics, the castle lost its importance and was bought first by the Lacisiense community and later by private families. In the mid-1800s the castle was bought by Count Buri, who began an important restoration, continued with his successors, the Bernini counts. The fortress of Lazise, the actual castle with its keep, parade ground, two walled enclosures and six towers, is still private property.

Gate of the Lion
Porta Lion is one of the 3 entrances to the fortified town of Lazise. It takes its name because inside the door there is the lion of San Marco, symbol of the Serenissima Republic of Venice.

Gate of Lazise
For those arriving from other directions, there will be two further doors to welcome them. Porta Superiore, commonly called Porta San Zeno, which was once the only functioning doorway. In fact, to control the entrances there was a guard where today we see the capital with the Madonna. Arriving at this gate, we recommend that you pause outside of it, as it is clearly visible that the gate tower is lower than the rest of the walls. The Viscontis together with the Gonzagas, after finally winning in 1400, the battle against the Venetians, to humiliate them, wanted to demonstrate their superiority by lowering the main door of Lazise.

Porta Cansignorio Lazise
The third and last gate was built with the last stretch of the wall, immediately after the death of Cansignorio, in fact its name is Porta Cansignorio or Porta Nuova. As the artillery shells during the war between Venice and the Visconti are still visible. Inside you can see a mosaic of one of the two patron saints of Lazise, San Martino. On the other side, still internally, there is a bas-relief representing the Madonna rising from the waters of the stormy lake, commissioned by the mayor Macola in ’55. From the analysis of the masonry construction techniques, the fortification of Lazise dates back to a single historical period, the late Scaligera one. It includes 3 gates and 12 shielded towers, completed by the fortress and the military port. Furthermore, it has been found that the towers were built before the walls, since these are not interlocked with them.

Historic Center
After the medieval walls the tour of Lazise continues with the tour of the ancient village. In the center is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, with the town hall and, nearby, the parish church of Saints Zenone and Martino. The origins of the church probably date back to the 12th century, but the current building was completely rebuilt in the neoclassical style between the end of the 1700s and the mid-1800s. The project is by the Veronese architect Luigi Trezza. The checkerboard pavement with black and white tiles of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele continues directly to the dock, always crowded with fishing boats and motorboats of vacationers.

Venetian customs house
Close to the Old Port, stands the Venetian Customs House, a famous building that became particularly important in the Venetian era and directly overlooks the shores of Lake Garda. Villa Bernini characterized by its intense orange color and the battlements present and on the other side, the prestigious Dogana Veneta. What certainly catches the eye are its elegant arches, designed by Cangrande della Scala with a precise motif, to let their canals in.

In the time of Serenissima Republic of Venice, it became the arsenal of an important armed fleet, always ready for garrison and fighting functions against the Visconti of Milan and against the alliance of the League of Cambray. Its function during the Venetian era was not only an arsenal but also had the purpose of exchanging goods between Lombardy and the Republic of Venice.

After that, the Municipality of Lazise bought the building using it fully as a commercial customs office. In the first half of the 1500s, this function ceased. The place were kept in the structure and for this reason it was transformed into a factory for the production of saltpeter. A substance that was created with sheep droppings and needed to make gunpowder. Later, it became the first plant for the spinning of cotton. It returned to being part of the municipal heritage in 1961, using it as a warehouse and other social activities.

Following the restoration in 2003, it has become a location destined to host prestigious private, corporate and cultural events such as weddings, congresses, gala dinners, fashion shows and art exhibitions. Nowadays, for one of the most requested locations and a historic building among the most important in the Municipality of Lazise.

The Old Port
The picturesque Porto Vecchio of Lazise is located at the foot of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, right at the end of its checkered pavement. This port already existed in the 10th century, but that it acquired a role of great importance only during the Venetian domination, together with the Venetian Customs. In fact, during this period, it not only had the function of hosting fishermen’s boats but also that of stopover for goods that passed between Venice, Trentino and Lombardy.

At the ends of Porto Vecchio, which was initially smaller than the current one, there were two towers, with an entrance to the marina near the largest tower. From these two towers began the walls that went to connect to the rest of the medieval fortification. The Cadenon tower and the Cason were demolished in 1924 to build the war memorial. In addition to these two towers there were arcades directly on the water on the north side of Portovecchio, which were used for the temporary unloading of goods (wood and coal in particular). These arcades had the same fate as the towers as they were eliminated in 1939 to allow cars to pass directly along the lakefront.

Marconi lakefront
The suggestive walk of Marconi lakefront connects to the north with the municipalities of Cisano, Bardolino and Garda, while to the south, first with the beaches and then with Peschiera del Garda. The lakefront is characterized by an undulating pavement that recalls the waves of the lake, since once the water flowed close to the current promenade, reaching the porticoes of the restaurants. For this reason Lazise was defined as a little Venice, built entirely on the water, whose streets were passable only with one’s own boats. These calli had also been designed with a defense system consisting of palisades that prevented enemies from entering the town.

At the beginning of the Marconi lakefront, coming from the north, you will find on the wall on your left a marble epigraph reminding that Lazise is the oldest town in Italy: in fact on 7 May 983 the emperor Otto II granted to the natives of Lazise the privilege of fortifying the village with turreted walls and of enjoying ample administrative autonomy, in particular in trade and fishing. Enjoy a romantic walk, enjoy an aperitif, an ice cream at sunset or just sit on a bench and admire the clear waters of the lake, this is the right place. Near the New Port it is worth noting the presence of a bronze statue representing the Little Mermaid of the lake, a female figure who jumps on a rock coming out of the water and which, reflecting in the lake, gives an image of brightness.

Church of San Nicolò
The church of San Nicolò is located near the old port of Lazise. With its tall white bell tower, the Romanesque church of San Nicolò, which, together with the Venetian Customs, frame the town’s Portovecchio, represents one of the must-see attractions of Lazise. The parish church, dedicated to San Nicolò, protector of sailors and fishermen, is in Romanesque style and dates back to the end of the 12th century. Over the centuries the church has undergone several important changes: with the earthquake of 1117 and following a fire in 1595, some parts were destroyed, in particular the apse and the bell tower, which were subsequently rebuilt. In 1879 the church was closed by order of Cardinal Luigi di Canossa who was visiting the town as it was in a state of neglect, so, in the following years, it was used for theatrical performances.

During the restoration work various parts of frescoes dating back to different Renaissance periods came to light. For example, the oil painting on canvas placed behind the altar and the Byzantine-style Madonna placed in the external tabernacle, a gift from the Tabasini family to the brotherhood of San Nicolò. In May 2017, further restoration works were commissioned, completed in August 2020. The aim of these works was to restore the church to its former glory.

Church of Saints Zenone and Martino
The majestic church of Saints Zenone and Martino near Porta San Zeno, with its white facade together with the decorated columns, recalls a temple of ancient Rome. Another peculiarity of this church is its tall white square bell tower with the clock underneath. The first documents mentioning the existence of the current church of San Zenone date back to the 12th century.

The church is in perfect neoclassical style, as evidenced by the columns supporting the entablature ended with the Corinthian-style capitals. To unite the old and the new, inside there are two side altars that date back to the previous church. In addition, you will find some works such as: the altarpiece of San Martino which is found in the choir, the Via Crucis, the altarpiece of the Sacred Heart and the Christ. The staircase still present on the outside was built at the end of the nineteenth century to level the floor of the church and the three statues on the pediment of the facade depict San Martino, Fermo and Rustico.

Celebrations that regularly take place in the village are numerous, in particular fairs and festivals: the Festa dell’Ospite, that is held at the end of July in Pacengo (a neighbouring town) and at the end of August in Lazise, when there are various stands that sell typical local products, concerts and a final show with fireworks; the Antica sagra della Madonna della Neve that takes place in the municipality of Colà at the beginning of August, during which the traditional plate of anara col pien (stuffed and roast duck) is served; la Sagra del Marciapié, an old feast that is celebrated on the last day of Carnival and the first of Lent in Via Arco, during which citizens are invited to choose the representatives of the street named Via Capo Valàr, in addition to the carnival masks; lastly the national fair I giorni del miele, a trade fair completely dedicated to honey and its derivatives held at the beginning of October.

Visiti the two large nearby tourist centers, Bardolino and Peschiera del Garda, take a stroll in the hamlets of Lazise: Pacengo and Colà which continue the traditional economic life based almost exclusively on fishing and agriculture, in particular on the cultivation of vines and olive trees that produce excellent l ‘ extra virgin olive oil and wines, which make Lazise one of the favorite destinations of the “Riviera of olives”.

From the fortunate position of Lazise you can go on interesting trips to Monte Baldo, to the Vittoriale, to the towns of the Brescia coast of Lake Garda, Salò, Gardone, Toscolano Maderno and Limone del Garda. The area is famous for its theme parks, such as Gardaland at 6 km, CanevaWorld at 3 km, the Natura Viva zoo-safari park at 5 km, the Thermal Park at 3 km., Moviland and other great attractions.

Colà, which became part of the municipality of Lazise in the 19th century. In the inhabited area, a parish since 1526, there is the church of San Giorgio Martire, built between 1757 and 1762 on the emulation of the previous chapel dedicated to Santa Maria, which was built in the 12th century. Inside there are five marble altars and two valuable paintings by Agostino Ugolini, while in the rectory there is the Virgin and Saints Rocco and Sebastiano by Paolo Farinati.

Pacengo is a hamlet located on the shore of the lake south of the capital, which became part of the municipality of Lazise during the Venetian domination. The town must have been both an important prehistoric center, given the discovery of various ancient objects, and Roman, considered the meeting place for foundations of Roman buildings. In the village, seat of the parish since 1526, there is a church built between 1787 and 1792 on a project by Leonardo Rossi. The interiors were decorated by Pio Piatti while the marble high altar was most likely made by the sculptors Zoppi and Spiazzi.

Villa dei Cedri Thermal Park
Large wooded park with two ponds with thermal water. The temperature of the main lake is 33-34 ° C which rises up to 37 and 39 in special tanks inside the lake. In the secondary lake the temperature is 29-30 ° C. In both lakes there are whirlpools and cold and hot showers. In the center it is also possible to take baths in thermal pools, do thermal treatments and saunas. In the park there are tables and chairs, deckchairs are available for hire.

Desenzano del Garda
Desenzano del Garda is part of the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori del Garda, a route of food and wine tourism promotion, about 200 kilometers long and recognized by the Lombardy Region, which winds through the province of Brescia on a territory of 25 municipalities, touching among these: Pozzolengo, Sirmione, Lonato del Garda, Padenghe sul Garda, Moniga del Garda, Soiano del Lago, Muscoline, Polpenazze del Garda, Manerba del Garda, Puegnago del Garda, Salò, Gardone Riviera,Toscolano-Maderno, Limone sul Garda and Tremosine. The route is intertwined with another itinerary of tourist value in the area: Strada dei Vini e Sapori Mantovani.

In the lands of the Gonzaga
An itinerary through the towns, large and small, which were the capitals of the Gonzaga cadet branches: principalities, marquisates, duchies which, within the Mantuan state structure, enjoyed a real independence, often minted coins and they held refined courtyards that rivaled that of Mantua, they embellished their urban centers by equipping them with elegant architecture – churches, squares, palaces, walls, towers – and characteristic urban views such as the typical Gonzaga arcades.

Morainic hills of Lake Garda
On the first corrugations of the Po plain that becomes a hill, where the large lake basin of Lake Garda begins, the route touches towns and cities that were the domain of Gonzaga, Venice, Scaligeri, and later became theater of the bloody battles of the Risorgimento that were the prelude to the unification of Italy. To the tourist, historical and naturalistic importance the area combines an oenological interest as an area of production of the wines of the hills, tokai, merlot and chiaretto.