A huge variety of exotic vegetation: cedars, magnolias, camphor trees, palm trees, etc. makes Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda an internationally famous “garden city”. Villas and hotels surrounded by large parks on the shore have preserved their original 19th century Liberty style.
The Vittoriale degli Italiani is a former residence of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. He donated it to the Italian State before his death. It is now a national monument and houses a MAS fast military ship and the plane on which D’Annunzio raided Vienna. The most important points of attraction on this vast estate are the Prioria (the house of the poet) and the Auditorium or rather War Museum, where the legendary airplane SVA 10 can be admired, in which d’Annunzio undertook his famous and daring flight above Vienna. Also housed in the Vittoriale are the new shipping museum Museo di Bordo, the cruiser Puglia, the anti submarine motorboat MAS 96, the Mausoleum, the veteran cars Isotta Fraschini and Fiat Type 4. These and further curiosities are exhibited in a 9 hectare large green oasis with Mediterranean vegetation– even the Vittoriale park and the private gardens have a historical context. The building Prioria, which was restructured and furnished according to plans by d’Annunzio, gives an insight into the poet’s life and into a whole epoch – the original furnishing and the collections of valuable objects reflect the poet’s personality and his “inimitable life”.
The Villa Alba in Gardone Riviera was designed by German architect Schaefer at the beginning of the 20th century to resemble the monuments of the Acropolis in Athens. The neoclassical villa owned by the Langensiepen family has a grand façade with columns, a loggia supported by caryatids, a pediment decorated with bas-relief, and an ornate stairway. In the sixties the Villa and park were bought by the town, which subsequently turned it into a Convention Center, the first in the Lake Garda area.
Botanical Garden André Heller – In 1901 Professor Arturo Hruska, a dentist and well-known naturalist, arrived in Gardone on Lake Garda and immediately noticed the special climate of the area. Between 1910 and 1971 he planted a botanical garden that extended for a little more than 1.5 hectares. In it he had more than 500 species of plants from every continent and different climates: magnolias, Tibetan primroses, reeds of every size, iris and ferns, including the ‘”osmunda regalis”. There is a huge variety of succulent and subtropical plants. Many aquatic plants float in small ponds with fountains and waterfalls typical of Japanese landscaping. There is also a lush forest of bamboo trees. Alpine flowers grow amidst the rocks, crevasses and small ravines. The botanical garden, which has been owned since 1988 by the Andrè Heller Foundation (the famous Austrian multimedia artist), is open from March to October, from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.