On the borderline of two regions, Lombardia and Veneto, south of Garda lake, Valeggio sul Mincio is situated in the natural amphitheater of the morainal hills that overlook the Po plain, near two splendid cities of art, Verona and Mantova. The Mincio river valley, which runs from north to south, reveals a great natural landscape, a ribbon of green among the most beautiful of the lower Lake, a winding road of water that lingers amid the bends and groves of reeds, habitat and shelter to numerous bird species. The economy of Valeggio, greatly attached to the land, is based upon a flourishing agriculture, an entrenched artisan tradition and a growing industry which hasn’t, in any case, been an obstacle to consolidate, in the last decades, the valuable touristic potential. Classified as a “City of Art” for the artistic legacy, Valeggio sul Mincio can offer much to all those who wish to spend time dedicated to culture, nature and the most genuine gastronomy.
Archaeological excavations in the Mincio valley include a Bronze Age settlements, some tombs dating to the Iron Age and some findings associated with the Etruscan civilization. A large Celtic necropolis, found in 1984 still partly buried under the current town, would prove the presence of that people from the 4th century AC and the 1st century DC. The creation of the villages of Valeggio and Borghetto dates to the Lombard rule in northern Italy. The monastery of Santa Maria was founded here, on the Mincio shore, was founded here in the 12th century; later it was a priory of the Knights Templar. The large medieval fortifications which characterize Valeggio (Scaliger castle, the Visconti Bridge and the Serraglio difensive line) were built between the 13th and the 14th centuries. In 1405 Valeggio became part of the Republic of Venice, and subsequently lost its strategic role, becoming an agricultural center and a silkworms trading market. After the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797, Valeggio was included in the Cisalpine Republic. Later it was part of the Italian Republic (1802-1805) and, after some decades under the Austrian rule, of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy.
The Scaligero castle towers overlooks the Mincio valley from the summit of the hill, maintaining the majestic effect of the medieval fortifications. From its oldest part, which was almost entirely destroyed in the earthquake of 1117, only the Tonda Tower remains, a horseshoe bat shape construction from the 10th century. The rest of the complex dates back to the 14th century. Three rising bridges where added, of which only one remains. In July and August the internal courtyard becomes a stage for the summer culture and cinema shows.
In Borghetto the Visconteo bridge dominates the scenery, an extraordinary dam built in 1393 at the will of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, in order to guarantee the impenetrability of the eastern borders of the Duke’s land. At 650m long and around 25m wide, with a road 9m above the water level below, it is often referred to as the ‘Long Bridge’. Finished in 1395, after only two years of intense work, it connects to the towering castle through two tall crenelated sheets and is integrated into a fortified complex called the ‘Serraglio’, which extends for roughly 16km, up to Nogarole Rocca. Also in Borghetto the small Church of San Marco the Evangelist can be visited. Dedicated to Saint Maria and built in the 11th century, it sits on the remains of a Roman parish church.In the vicinity of the little San Macro Bridge, in front of the church, a statue of S. Giovanni Nepumoceno is cast in the walls of an old house. The tradition suggests that this statue protects those who fall in the river from drowning. The church of Saint Peter’s Chair, in the centre of Valeggio, was erected in 1753, on the remains of a church from around 16th century, but there are documents that prove the existence of a roman church from 1145. Inside the church, whose façade is incomplete, a large neoclassic nave brings one’s attention to the huge alter from the 19th century; whilst above the entrance doorway, one can admire a large fresco from the 18th century, displaying the hunt of the merchants from the temple. On the lest, a magnificent cane organ from G. B. Sona from the Venitian-Gardesana school of the 18th century is completely restored and functioning. In the historic centre, on via Murari, the 18th century Palazzo Guarienti can be found: in rigorous neoclassical style, more severe than elegant. On the façade a plaque remembers the evening of 30th May 1796, during the campaign of Italy, when Napoleon Bonaparte, who was staying in the Pallace, risked being captured by the Austrians, who appeared unannounced in the town. On the right hand side is another plaque, dedicated to don Giovanni Beltrame, a missionary, an academic and an explorer from Valeggio in the centenarian of this death (1906). The Villa Maffei Sigurtà, the luxurious summer home of the Counts of Maffei, gentlemen of Valeggio and Monzambano from 1649, was designed and built by the architect Vincenzo Pellesina (1637-1700) who was inspired by the more famous projects of the Paladium. His style is testament to the transition from Baroque to the more clean neoclassical. In the gable, above the loggia fresco, a plaque remembers the old investment of the Maffei. At the back of the Villa, in the old ‘brolo’, the Sigurtà Park extends: it was acquires in the 40s by the Count Dr Carlo Sigurtà, and he transformed it, after years of passionate work, into one of the most beautiful botanical sites in Europe. The park is open to the public from March to November.
Borghetto. Borghetto ows its charm to the harmonious relationship that both history and nature have been keeping, almost intact, throughout the centuries. The medieval atmosphere of the town is underlined by the Ghibelline blackbirds, by the bell tower of the little church of San Marco, by the wheels of the antique mills and by the rocks of the Visconteo bridge. Along the Mincio’s banks one can spend pleasant days immersed in the tranquility and colors of one of the most amazing environments.
Valeggio’s cuisine is highly bound to tradition. Each new generation seeks to improve it through new trends in cookery, whilst still maintaining the quality and authenticity of the ingredients. Our restaurateurs provide you with a relaxing environment, offering you a large and very rich selection of specialities, to please all. Our pasta is home made with fresh ingredients. We serve fresh lasagne seasoned with cepes or game meat?. You also find filled pasta such as ‘stracchino tortellini’ (stracchino is a fresh soft cheese), celery, pumpkin, spinach or mushroom tortellini, or even duck, hen, or beef tortellini. Among this large variety of pasta specialities, the Tortellino of Valeggio, also called “Nodo d’amore” (Knot of Love) remains our most celebrated dish. Typical main courses include: trout, lavaret, pike with polenta, boiled meat with pearà (very fine and tasty bread cream) and grilled meat (pork, beef, lamb, chicken). In all of our restaurants you can choose home made cakes, tarts, fruit pies and tiramisù. While our confectioners will offer you their typical Rose Cake. Other desserts include fruits in syrup like pears, peaches, apricots, or grapes. To accompany our dishes we suggest local wines: Bianco di Custoza, Bardolino, Bardolino chiaretto, Lugana, and to conclude our food and wine tour we propose our local grappas (local liquor).
Since 1994 the Antique Market Fair has taken place in Carlo Alberto on the 4th Sunday of every month in the old town’s streets. Each hamlet around Valeggio has its own festival, usually commemorating a patron saint. The dates are as follows:
– The weekend of the 19th March: Old Saint Joseph festival in Vanoni Remelli.
– 25th March: Antique festival in Borghetto
– First weekend of May: Saint Eurosia festival in Santa Lucia ai Monti
– Second weekend of July: Festival of Pope Saint Leon and his meeting with Attila
– On the third Tuesday of June, the restaurateurs’ association of Valeggio organise a very big food and wine festival on the medieval Visconti bridge in Borghetto called “Festa del Nodo d’Amore” (Festival of the Knot of Love). During this giant feast 4.000 people sit at the same table and taste Valeggio’s famous tortellini, ‘The Knot of Love’.
– On the first weekend of July the annual Valeggio Fair takes place, with fair trade, an exhibition of agricultural and commercial products, model making, art, gastronomical specialities, games and entertainment.
– In July and August, in the courtyard of Della Scala Castle, the annual cinema review occurs: Cinema Among the Towers.
– On 12th December, in Piazza Carlo Alberto, ‘Saint Lucy arrives’, giving sweets and cakes to the children.