Located close to the mouth of the River Sarca, Torbole stands at the foot of Monte Baldo, at the north eastern shore of Lake Garda. Torbole has been a tourist resort since the 15th century when it became a favourite holiday venue for the travellers transiting along the Atesina road joining Germany with Italy; among these, celebrities such as Montaigne e Goethe. The houses are laid out as in an amphitheatre along the contour of the gulf opposite the large ramparts of Monte Rocchetta and of the Ledro Alps. The municipality Nago-Torbole consists of two villages: Torbole, situated at the shore of the Lake and Nago, above of Torbole at an altitude of 200 m. Torbole and Nago have succeeded in preserving their typical traits and the ancient magnificence of their buildings and the amphitheater on north side of Lake Garda. Nago is a charming small village with a Mediterranean vegetation which offers a breathtaking view over Lake Garda, situated on a spur of rock north of Torbole and on the way to the higher Adige valley.
The area was first inhabited in prehistoric times then colonized by the Romans and subsequently annexed to Nago, the castellan seat of the Counts of Arco, to form a community. In 1439, Torbole was witness to an extraordinary event that occurred during the Third Lombard War (1438) between Milan and the Republic of Venice that wished to consolidate its hold on mainland: the Venetians transported an entire fleet, consisting of 25 barges and 6 galleys through the Valle del Càmeras all the way to Lake Garda in order to gain naval control of the lake. In April 1440, the small Venetian fleet on the lake thrashed that of the Visconti and stormed Riva. Tourism in Torbole has been a vocation since the 15th century when it became a favourite among the travellers who transited along the Atesina road between Germany and Italy. Montaigne visited Torbole in 1580, but it was Goethe who launched it in the eyes of the travellers of German Romanticism. He described its winds as one of the wonders of nature and a breathtaking sight. The enthusiastic descriptions of Goethe prompted many young painters and poets to visit Torbole on Lake Garda as part of their Grand Tours.Cesare Arici, a delicate idyllic and rural poet from Brescia, sings of “Torbole abounding in fish”. The town’s extraordinary picturesque appearance attracted many German painters of the Romantic and late-Romantic period. Up until the 20‘s, its economy was based on fishing and the cultivation of fruit and olive trees that flourished in its mild climate, but after the end of WWII this type of economy was abandoned in favour of the tourist industry which ended up involving almost its entire population.
Torbole (the name is derived from turbines) is a well known centre of sailing and windsurfing due to the constant winds and the prohibition of motor boats. Therefore Torbole is one of the European capitals of water sports and a very popular tourist destination. The wind and nature are the real protagonists of this corner of the Trentino side of Lake Garda, and there are schools and courses teaching different sports on every level. The shores of the Conca d’oro (the golden basin), of the Parco della colonia pavese (Park of the Pavian colony) and of Villa Cian are vast and clean. The inland area also has several rocky formations, and free climbing has become a popular sport in Torbole sul Garda. Torbole on Lake Garda is also a starting point for mountain bike excursions, easy walks and treks.
Torbole used to be a little fishing and boating village. The tiny harbour is the most picturesque corner of Torbole, with its Old Customs House and House Beust. The Penede castle and the Austro-Hungarian fort of Nago were strategic surveillance points on the main route that led from the Adige valley to Lake Garda. The castle and the forts have been restored and are open to the public.A pleasant walk from Nago to Torbole will lead you past the Marmitte dei Giganti, glacial excavation wells dating back from the Quaternary era.