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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. 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.
Its most prominent landmark is the Castello Scaligero, which has 13th-century fortifications and an older medieval tower. Remnants of an Etruscan tomb have been found within the castle walls. The castle was fortified by the della Scala family who ruled the region throughout the 13th century. Other sights include the Pieve of St. Stephen (8th century), the church of Santa Maria di Navene (11th century). In 1786, Goethe was questioned by the local magistrate on suspicion of being a spy while drawing sketches of the castle. The German writer recalled the incident in his report about the Italian Journey. Behind Malcesine rises the 2218 meters high Monte Baldo. A cable car with rotating cabins takes passengers to 1750 meters above the sea level. From there the highest point can be accessed by walking few kilometers to the south along the ridge. The Museum Del Lago. It has opened its doors lately (2008), is situated at the small haven of Cassone, and you will have the experience of one trickle of Malcesine never seen before, far away from time or location. It shows its visitors a lot of carbinets with old tools of the past fishing or also objects of the dayly life of our ancestor. It recalls the past which seems to be very near in this moment. The old photos of the antique sailing vessels recalls the time when transport was made economically friendliy by seaway. At the outside section of the museum you find two big basins in which streams the clear water of the Aril river, the shortest river all over the world. Into this basins you will see common eels, luce and with a little bit of luck also trouts. A visit will show you another wonderful part of of this lovely village, which makes very proud its habitants.