Malcesine is on the east coast of Lake Garda, at the feet of Monte Baldo.
The town is nestled on the shores of one of the narrowest parts of the Lake where is similar to a Fjord and with the mountain slopes rising steeply behind it.
Malcesine spreads over 68 km² and includes the hamlets of Cassone and Navene.
Malcesine, like many other Lake Garda towns, is very old and has its origins in prehistory: archaelogical digs have discovered many pile-built lake dwellings. Over the course of centuries, this area has been subject to many invasions and migrations of people from northern Europe.
The first thing you will notice wandering around Malcesine is the Scaligero Castle with its high towers rising from the rocky cliffs below. The view of the town from the top of the tower is spectacular. In the historic centre of town you will also find: the Captain’s Palace in gothic-venetian style with its murals and small garden overhanging the lake; the port and the beautiful lake-side walk.
Malcesine, with its historic and romantic twists and turns is, and has been, a place of interest and refuge for artists. In 1786 the poet Wolfgang Goethe stayed here and left several drawings of the area which are preserved in the Scaligero Museum. Gustav Klimt, the Viennese exponent of Art Nouveau, also spent some time in Malcesine and did some beautiful paintings of the Hamlet of Navene and Malcesine. This small town, clustered around its castle, still has strong links to its medieval origins. The historic centre is a labyrinth of small streets reflecting the local businesses of the town: shops, boutiques, artisan, painter and sculptor workshops and showrooms, bars, restaurants and ice-cream parlours. This is a place that has, for many years, dedicated itself to the needs of tourists.
We don’t need to state the obvious: you’ll find excellent, well equipped campsites, hotels to every taste and some with fitness centres, private beaches and gardens shaded by ancient olive trees. In the evenings you can try some wine in one of the central wine bars, eat some good local food in the Malcesine restaurants and trattorias and finish the evening in a bar or pub in the historic town centre. On a summer’s evening there are also organized and improvised evening parties and concerts both in the town and also on the beaches nearby helping guests to wholly integrate in local culture.
The closeness of Malcesine to such towns as Verona, Mantova, Venezia and Vicenza makes it quick for visitors to get there and, for an even easier and more enjoyable trip, the local tour agencies offer organized tours using expert guides in efficient and comfortable buses, running to a punctual daily timetable and at very reasonable cost.
Another great event to take part in is the famous and spectacular opera season at the Arena di Verona where some of the greatest operas are performed each year to thousands of fans. A few kilometers from Malcesine there is also the MART (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) in Rovereto, the Palazzo Forti (modern art gallery) in Verona, and the Vittoriale at Gardone (the house of Gabriele D’Annunzio).
Close by too are some well-known amusements parks and gardens such as Gardaland, Caneva and the Giardino Sigurta Gardens the latter being rich in flora but also a beautiful corner of Italy with lovely views.
The town Council of Malcesine offers a ‘Tourist Bus’ service which covers most of the area between Cassone and Navene (including Malcesine) every hour until the early hours of the morning. The service operates from 1st May to 4th October 2009.Timetables are available eat each stop and also from the APT bus station in Malcesine.
The intense light, the sun dancing on the crests of the lake and the radiant sunsets arouse unique and unrepeatable sensations.
Lights and shadows define the imposing masses of the steep slopes that rise almost menacingly above the deep, inaccessible gorges of Mount Baldo, the ancient testimony of chaotic and devastating cataclysms that shaped a rough and difficult environment, in stark contrast with the small inhabited area, the fruit of landslides that the Mediterranean climate and the slow work of nature and man have softened, with hillsides rich with olives, cypress trees and oleanders.
Many gardens still host lemon trees laden with fragrant flowers and golden fruits, which stand out among the intensely green fronds, the remains of more ancient and vaster lemon-houses, which time and urban expansion have irretrievably cancelled.
The first historical information recorded dates from 500 B.C. and refers to fixed and organised settlements of populations of Etruscan origin and other more or less permanent populations, which came under the dominion of Rome after 15 B.C., following Tiberius' the defeat of the Rhaetians. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Ostrogoths, Alemannians and in 568 the Lombards, followed by the Franks and Hungarians, succeeded each other in dominating vast territories in northern Italy, culminating the phase of barbarian invasions. An initial primitive edification of the fortress by the Lombards seems to date from around halfway through the first millennium. It was later destroyed (590 A.D.) and rebuilt by the Franks; there is documented testimony of the presence in the castle of king Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, in 806. From 1277 until 1387 the territory was ruled by the 'Della Scala' family, who modernised and reinforced the fortress, which was then defined as the 'Scaliger Castle' and was later passed on to the Visconti of Milan (1387-1403). The Republic of Venice then governed Malcesine wisely from 1405 until 1797, with the exclusion of several brief periods - the Imperials from 1506 to 1516 and the French, from 1797 to 1798. The Venetians instituted an autonomous authority for territorial control known as the 'Gardesana dell'Acqua', headed by a Captain appointed in Venice who resided in the Palace of Captains. From 1798 until 1866, when the Veneto Region became part of the Reign of Italy, the Austrians, in addition to reordering many sectors of social and administrative life in the territories governed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, carried out important works to consolidate, modify and enlarge the interior of the Castle, transforming it into a military garrison.
The are many colourful events, shows and exhibits that make Malcesine's cultural life interesting: internationally famous artists, painters and sculptors have found in the halls and gardens of the Palace of Captains and the Scaliger Castle in ideal setting for their compositions. Many famous artists have lived in Malcesine in more recent periods, gaining inspiration for their paintings. In particular, we recall Baroni, Belluzzi della Mainolda, the belgian artist Minders da Genk and the unforgettable Ottavio Giacomazzi of Malcesine, who is widely known and highly appraised in many countries, especially in Germany. His works, exhibited in the most important cultural centres of Europe, are the fruit of an intense artistic evolution, tied to his solid roots in the area of Lake Garda.
The spacious and carefully managed library situated in the restored halls on the first floor of the Palace of Captains gives students, citizens and tourists the possibility of perusing through a noteworthy repertory of volumes and magazines, of consulting its multimedia sites for pourposes of teaching and research and its always possible to listen to some good music at special listening points. A small section of the library is reserved for books in English and German. The collection of approximately 500 volumes donated to the city of Malcesine by Gen. Alberto Pariani, gold medal in the First World War and Chief of Staff of the Italian Army from 1936-39, is particulary prestigious. As mayor of Malcesine he provided stimulus and impulse for many cultural activities, such as the recovery of the Scaliger Castle and the institution of the Mount Baldo and Lake Garda Museum of Natural History, which were later resumed and completed by other personalities.
Built by the Lombards towards the middle of the fi rst millennium, the Castle was destroyed by the Franks in 590, who rebuilt it to host king Pippin in 806. Following the invasions of the Hungarians, it became part of the Veronese Bishop’s fi efs. In 1277 it fell under the rule of Alberto Della Scala and remained the property of the Della Scala family until 1387. Works performed during this period gave the Castle its current name: the “Scaliger Castle”. Over the centuries, it has been occupied by the Visconti of Milan, by the Republic of Venice, by the French and Austrian Empires; the latter performed fi rm works to consolidate the interior of the Castle and inhabited it until 1866.
On August 22nd, 1902 it was declared a National Monument.
Today the Castle halls host the interesting Museum of Natural History of Mount Baldo and Lake Garda, which exhibits numerous findings and illustrative tables of the native species of flora and fauna in the Garda territory.
Renovated in May 2008, the Museum of Natural History of Monte Baldo and Lake Garda offers an original multimedia approach, making visits complete sensorial experiences: visitors can look, touch, smell, listen or use touch screens to obtain any information desired.
The new design considers the exhibits as works of art, showing and interpreting themes and adopting splendid apt solutions that consider even the landscape that can be viewed from the window an integral part of the itinerary.
One of the halls, the ex-gunpowder magazine built by the Austrians, is dedicated to Goethe and exhibits several sketches that depict views of the lake and Malcesine Castle realised by the poet on occasion of his 'travels in Italy'. Besides offering a relaxing cultural parentheses, visiting the Castle permits observation from the artillery platform, known as the 'revelino' and especially from the top of the tower, where there is a complete and fascinating panoramic view of the entire territory, a grandiose spectacle that will definitely be impressed upon your memory.
Schedules Opening Castle:
April / October - Daily, from 9.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
- Adults: 6,00 euro
- Reduced tickets: 4,00 euro. Adults over 65, youths (14-18 yeras), students with cards (max 24 years), groups.
- Children (6-13 years): 2,00 euro
- Free entrance: children (0-5 years), guide, resident.
THE LAKE MUSEUM
The Lake Museum opens onto the Harbor of Cassone, a secluded place from another time. It offers visitors showcases richly replete with fishing memorabilia: hooks, nets, photographs of old sailboats - all displayed in an informal manner, which has great impact, however. Two large vats outside the museum collect the fl ow of water from the Aril River. They contain eels, chubs and trout, which give visitors an idea of the original aspect of the building, which was an incubator.
Schedules Opening Museum:
From Tuesday to Saturday, from 10.00/12-00 a.m. - 15.00/18.00 p.m.
Free Entrance. More Infos: www.malcesinepiu.it
- Download: Map
You might also like: