Isola del Garda (lit.: Garda Island) is the biggest island in North Italian Lake Garda. It is located between lakeside towns Salò and San Felice del Benaco, just off Cap San Fermo. On the island you can find a park and several gardens as well as a neo-Gothic Venetian villa, still inhabited today by its owners, the count's family Cavazza.
Nowadays, the island is mainly known for its variety of plants. Numerous fruit trees bearing lemons, pears, or pomegranates; eleborately formed hedges; prickly pears; Canarian palmtrees; olive groves; Chinese roses; and a number of other rare flowers are found along the lakefront and in the gardens.
You can visit the island between March and October, in the course of a guided tour. Tours often include an ambient classical concert. Boats set off at various ports on the west bank of the lake.
The Romans were the first to settle on Isola del Garda, where they built country houses and temples.
It was owned by the county of Garda, and was transferred to the monks of San Zeno of Verona. In 1221, Francis of Assissi purchased parts of the island and established a hermitage. The monks brought a number of plants to Lake Garda, including the lemons that are used to make the famous Limoncello nowadays.
In 1442, Bernardino of Siena transformed the hermitage into a convent which was shut in 1798, when the property was requisitioned. Count Luigi Lechi bought it in 1817 and converted it into a villa. The newly unified Italian state expropriated the island in 1860, and eventually sold it to Baron Scotti. After a number of changes of owner, the noble family of Borghese came into property of Isola del Garda. Their Prince Scipio converted the villa into a Venetian palace.
The island is currently owned by the count's family Cavazza, who lives there as well.
How to get there
Isola del Garda is located just off Lake Garda's west bank. It can be accessed from the following ports around the lake: Sirmione, Barbarano, Gardone Riviera, Portese, Torri del Benaco, Gargnano, Lazise, Bardolino, Garda, Maderno, Salò, Manerba, and San Felice del Benaco.