Stretching out along the Salò Gulf and sheltered from the wind, the town of Salò is the renowned port of entrance to the Riviera dei Limoni e dei Castelli. Salò has the longest promenade on Lake Garda and possibly in the whole of Italy. Salò is at about 7pm on the lake (viewing the lake as a clock) and is consequently on the West Bank of the lake. Salò itself is flat, but is actually at the base of Monte San Bartolomeo. Getting there is pretty straight forward by road and involves a very picturesque descent, similar to driving into Monte Carlo in places with some lovely views of the town. A lot of people choose to arrive at a more leisurely pace by ferry or there is a regular bus service. Salò has pretty much everything you would want for a lakeside holiday starting with a very nice mild climate….and a lake! Its long wide, pedestrian promenade has some lovely views of the lake, punctuated by bobbing yachts and motor boats which just add to the character and colour of the scenery. All along the leafy promenade are cafes, restaurants, hotels and occasional shops, interspersed with some unexpectedly attractive piazzas. It still has an air of Italian elegance about it, with Italians always managing to add to the elegance by managing to look cool even in the height of summer! A piece of historical information is that Mussolini made Salò the capital of the Fascist Social Republic which for a time was effectively the nominal capital of Italy. It is also claimed that Gasparo da Salò, the inventor of the violin was born here in 1540.
Cathedral – The Cathedral sits at the centre of the town in the same spot where a pagan temple and, later, Santa Maria Parish Church once stood. The first stone of the church, dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata and designed by Filippo delle Vacche, was laid on October 7, 1453. The facade and portal are quite beautiful. Inside is the chapel of the Holy Sacrament, with decorations by Giovan Battista Trotti, better known as Malosso. There are many paintings and frescos by Palma il Giovane and Antonio Vassilacchi, and an antique Wooden Crucifix by Giovanni Teutonico. The Polyptych by Paolo Veneziano (1300-1362), two paintings by Romanini (1484-1566), and works by Zenon Veronese (1484-1553), Moretto (1498-1564), Andrea Celesti (1637-1712), G. Andrea Bertanza, and Angelo Landi (1879-1944) are noteworthy.
Palazzo of Magnifica Patria and Palazzo of the Podestà – Both buildings, which sit on the lake front between via Conforti and Piazza della Vittoria, are municipal offices today. The first dates back to 1524; the second was reconstructed in 1905 after the 1901 earthquake which caused considerable damage. The council room contains the bust of Gasparo da Salò by sculptor Angelo Zanelli. On the ceiling is a fresco entitled “The Triumph of the Cross” by G. Andrea Bertanza. Frescos by Angelo Landi can be seen in the entrance. There are coats of arms and memorial stones beneath the portico joining the two buildings.
Library of the Academy of Salò – The poet Filippo Meio Voltolina of Salò founded the “Accademia degli Unanimi” in 1564 to encourage cultural activities. That led to the creation of a library which now contains 25,000 volumes. There are also 13th century manuscripts, incunabula, codes and documents of the Magnifica Patria from the early 16th century.
Italian Social Republic Documentation Center – The Italian Social Republic Documentation Center (“Marzio Tremaglia” Library) was founded in 2003 thanks to the municipality of Salò, the province of Brescia and the Lombardy region. The Centre is headed by prof. Roberto Chiarini who is an historian and professor of Contemporary history in the University of Milan. The Centre is aimed to make studies, to deepen scientific research and to collect documentation on the Social Republic, with particular regards to what happened in Northern Italy and especially on Lake Garda. The Centre provides a rich library consisting of more than 6.000 volumes and an archive made up of documents and videos. The whole documentation is available to both experts and enthusiasts. Lessons and guided tours to the most significant places of the Social Republic are also held.
Church of San Bernardino – The church dates back to 1476 and contains a triptych portraying the “Nativity with San Francesco d’Assisi and San Giuseppe” by Zenon Veronese, who also painted the altar-piece (1532) on the high altar.
Tourists in this lively town have many other opportunities. Sports buffs and outdoor enthusiasts have numerous activities to choose from, including the many hiking and biking itineraries found along the hill behind the town or on the lakefront promenade that circles the entire gulf.