Travel Guide of Torri del Benaco, Veneto, Italy

Torri del Benàco is an Italian town on the east coast of Lake Garda, in the province of Verona in Veneto. Torri del Benaco preserves the fascination of the medieval town gathered by the walls and towers. Today Torri del Benaco offers all the attractions related to water sports, such as sailing, rowing, trips to the islands, water skiing and cultural opportunities.

This town’s name means “fortress of the towers” and in addition to maintaining its nature as a defensive position in later times, it also preserves the typical echelon formation of an Imperial city’s road network. The castle itself, which dominates the countryside with its three crenellated towers was erected in the 14th century by the Scaglieri family on the fortalice of Berengario I (of which a 10th century tower still survives).

The Scaligero Castle, which also houses the Ethnographic Museum, with the first freshwater fishing room built in Italy and the Serra dei Limoni, maintained as when it was built in the 14th century by the Franciscans. Inside the Museo Civico is located, with displays of historical remains from all epochs, geographical maps, and fishing tackle and tools for olive cultivation: riches of all times from the area.

Worth visiting is the port area, the Roman Port recalls the tradition of the fishermen of Lake Garda. Starting with the medieval marina encircled by Venetian palazzi and the church of St. Trinità, continuing with the parish church of St Pietro e Paolo and the church of San Giovanni, which houses 14th-15th century frescoes. Or proceeding to the outlying districts of Brancolino and Crero, where several various carvings have been left by prehistoric man. Pai and Albisano also deserve a visit.

To the north of the town stands the Torre dell’Orologio, a municipal tower in which the population was summoned with the sound of the bell. A ferry service (traghetti) connects Torri with the western shore of the lake, allowing you to easily visit the villages on the opposite shore.

Torri del Benaco offer holidays in contact with nature Pai, with two areas on the lake shore and on the hill, and Albisano, a green balcony over the lake. Crer is an old farm among olive trees. The tourist offer is based, among others, on the enjoyment of windsurfing, sailing, the crystalline waters of the waters, or walks, also on mountain bike.

The first signs of man’s presence in Torri del Benaco can be traced back to about 2000 BC. Torri became part of the Roman Empire towards the end of the 1st century. BC: this is confirmed by the discovery of coins from the imperial age and many still existing toponyms such as Le Sorti and Il Salto. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the territory was occupied by the Goths, subsequently it was a possession of the Lombards and the Franks.

Since the Lombard period the area was part of the court of the Monastery of San Colombano del Priorato di Bardolino dependent on the Abbey of San Colombano di Bobbio (PC) and of the great monastic fief of Bobbio. The monks evangelized the territory by favoring the expansion of trade, agriculture (especially the vine and the olive tree), the fishing system, and culture, introducing important innovations and opening commercial routes.

At the beginning of the 10th century. the Hungarians penetrated, therefore the then king of Italy Berengario I, who arrived and stopped in Torri in 905, had the city walls built – of which large remains still remain – and the Torre di Berengario, now in Piazza della Chiesa. A Torri gave 6 diplomas with which he wanted to reward with donations those who had helped him against Louis III of Burgundy.

The Lombards, who built the walls of which large remains remain and the Torre di Berengario, now in piazza della Chiesa, to counter the Huns. Subsequently the importance of Torri del Benaco increased and with the advent of the Scaligeriin Verona, the defenses of the port were strengthened, creating a fortified dock and the castle built by Antonio Della Scala, on the ruins of a pre-existing structure. The defenses did not prevent the war between the Visconti and the Da Carrara, who alternated in the dominion of the shore of the lake, until the dominion of the Republic of Venice (1405).

In the 14-15th century there were devastating plagues which halved the population of Torri; to counter the scourge, the plague victims were collected near the church of San Giovanni and in the monastery annexed to the Church of San Faustino. An interesting depiction of Torri del Benaco from this period is found in a fresco in the Church of Sant’Antonio, on the road leading to the district of Coi: the town, surrounded by medieval walls, is represented with the Scaliger castle to the south and the parish church to the north, before the eighteenth-century expansion, with a small bell tower leaning against it.

In 1797 Napoleon’s soldiers landed in Torri and there was no lack of clashes between the Austrians and the Napoleonic ones. In 1866 Torri also became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

At that time, the main activity was fishing and the cultivation of olive trees but they also worked in citrus greenhouses and marble quarries. Today, the local economy is mainly based on tourism, even if the cultivation of the olive tree remains important.

Main Attractions
Torri del Benaco, a small and pleasant village on the lake, characterized by the great Scaligero castle. It is one of the most well-known ports of Garda, as the ferry from Toscolano Maderno, on the other shore, makes the crossing of the lake by embarking the car. Torri del Benaco is an enchanting place surrounded by the blue of the lake and the green hills behind it.

In addition to the castle, it is possible to see externally the seat of the Council of the Gardesana. The beautiful fifteenth-century building has now been restored and transformed into a hotel. Then there are the Church of St. Trinità, from the 15th century, decorated with frescoes, some of which are in Giotto style. The parish church, on the other hand, is Renaissance, with paintings by Brusasorci, Pietro Rotari and Cignaroli, all important Veronese painters from various eras.

The Castle of Torri
The castle, like all the other towns on the east shore of Lake Garda, dates back to the Scala era. The 10th century of which a tower is still visible. The crenellated curtain extended to defend the dock. In 1760 part of the walls was demolished to build the lemon house which still characterizes the overall view of the Castle. Since then the structure underwent a progressive decline, until 1980 when a radical restoration was carried out under the direction of Arrigo Rudi, collaborator of Carlo Scarpa for the restoration of Castelvecchio in Verona.

The structure could date back to the 10th century, or to the time of Berengario del Friuli, king of Italy who would have had a pre-existing manor restored to prepare an effective defense to protect Mount Baldo and above all in function of the Hungarian attacks that raged in the Po valley.. Contiguous to the Berengario castle he built curtain walls whose remains are still visible between the historic center of Torri and the Gardesana. Berengario is also credited with building the tower that bears his name located in the church square. In the 14th century, and precisely in 1383, Antonio della Scala, the last lord of the Della Scala family, entrusted Bonaventura Prendilacqua with the renovation of the castle, as a plaque on the west side of the western tower recalls. In later times, a few days of assaults on the Visconti lords of Milan were enough to conquer the fortress.

At the beginning of the 15th century it fell to the Venetians of the Venetian Republic (1405) to take over the possession of the castle, which was by now on its decline which culminated three hundred years later in the demolition of the outer walls in which a more peaceful citrus grove with lots of limonara was inserted instead (1760). Theethnographic museum on Garda culture illustrates and testifies to the historical aspects of Torri and Alto Garda, with specific sections ranging across various themes: olive growing, fishing, rock engravings.

The Ethnographic Museum
The Castle of Torri today houses an ethnographic museum with nine exhibition rooms, dedicated to the history, culture, ancient economy and professions of the lake with numerous historical geographical maps, models, relics and old work tools. which include: The construction of fishing boats and the profession of caulkers; The cultivation of the olive tree and the production of oil (with an ancient Roman oil mill); Fishing, with boats and equipment used in the past; The prehistoric rock carvings found in the hinterland of Torri and whose casts are exhibited here; The patrol walkways are passable and allow you to enjoy a splendid view of the lake and the town.

Church of Saints Peter and Paul
The parish church of Saints Peter and Paul was built in the 18th century in place of the previous Romanesque chapel. Valuable works preserved inside are the altarpiece with the subject of the Madonna and Child between Saints Peter and Paul, executed in the sixteenth century by the Brescia-born Sebastiano Aragonese, the only painting certainly assigned to the artist, and the paintings of the vault of the nave depicting the Rescue of St. Peter and the Angel who knocks down the idols, made by Felice Cappelletti from Verona, and that of the ceiling of the presbytery, portraying Triumph of Faith and painted by Gualfardo Lipella.

Villa Melisa
Villa Melisa, built in 1950 and purchased by the municipality of Torri del Benaco in 1988, is located in a privileged position, overlooking Lake Garda on two sides. It houses the elderly club and an AIPO headquarters, which offers advice to olive growers. A large area of its garden is used as a playground.

Rock engravings
In the area between Garda and Malcesine there are numerous sites where, on the stone slabs smoothed by the retreat of the glaciers, there are graffiti, the oldest of which date back to the Bronze Age. The area of Torri del Benaco is the one that hosts the greatest quantity.

Nature areas
Thanks to its occupying an almost perfect position, having mountains, hills, plains and the coast all nearby, Torri del Benaco is one of the most deserving reasons for the the lake’s title as ‘Garden of Europe’ owing to its flora. A holiday in Torri del Benaco will always mesmerize you.

In fact the three distinct sets of climactic conditions (Mediterranean, prealpine and alpine) lying in such close proximity in this zone have given nature artistic license, becoming varied and luxuriant in every angle of the terrain, a variety and abundance that also when viewed from the coast strikes one with wonder.

Grotta La Tanella, in the woods just outside the town of Pai di Sopra. The entrance is safe through an artificially dug tunnel and has some lateral compartments in addition to the main artificial compartment that connects with a natural branch. It is rich in stalactites and stalagmites and hosts a perennial spring.

Torri, like the neighboring villages, is famous for its wines and its extra virgin olive oil. Cellars and oil mills are open for tastings and to buy typical food and wine products.