The visit to Vittoriale degli Italiani is the traditional school trip that, as for students living in the north of Italy, is very common and utterly enjoyable. As we grow up, however, we tend to forget this place full of history and poetry. The Italian Eye Magazine let you (re)discover it with a complete guide.
With the help of architect Giancarlo Maroni, Gabriele D’Annunzio designed and built the most majestic piece of art of his entire life, a real monument in his honor, celebrating the unique and inimitable life of the poet. The complex of Vittoriale was erected between 1921 and 1938 on the edge of Lake Garda, precisely in Gardone Riviera; with a surface over 9 hectares, the Vittoriale hosts a huge park, the gardens, an open theatre and, of course, the Prioria, house of D’Annunzio himself.
The Vittoriale, a place full of contradictions, offers a one-of-a-kind natural habitat: wandering in the gardens, bumping into streams of water and a special cemetery for dogs, provided with a funeral effigy, results in a relaxing and unusual experience. From the bottom of the gardens up to the sky, the Vittoriale will continuously surprise you. Standing on the bow of the military ship Puglia, demolished and reconstructed on the hill, you’ll get a breathtaking panorama; then the climb to the sky continues, until you reach the mausoleum, in which the grave of the poet stands and look upon everything (echoing the way D’Annunzio used to promote himself). Here you can take the chance to admire the most beautiful view of the entire Vittoriale.
It is possible to visit the Prioria with a guided tour: it lasts about 40 minutes and in the end there is the possibility to freely visit the museum “D’Annunzio Eroe”. The house is such a narrow space that the guided tours, available every 7 minutes, are composed of a maximum of 10 people. This is the most surprising place of the whole Vittoriale: it reflects the soul and the personality of the celebrated owner, a controversial man that for his political inclination and, let’s say it, his complete luck of modesty and moderation, could seem obnoxious to many. Nevertheless, D’Annunzio remains a thorough artist and a refined lover of the aesthetic research.
“I’ve made of all of me my home; and I love her in every part. If I question her in my language, in my language she replies”
The light hardly comes in the rooms of the Prioria, emphasizing the mystic and sacral atmosphere that D’Annunzio sought for in every detail. The guided tour goes on and it is really enjoyable, wandering through the corridors, to proceed from eccentricity to eccentricity. A particular mention goes to the Room of Memorabilia, completely voted to religious sentiments and to the idea of religion itself, which in the case of D’Annunzio was everything except for mainstream. Inside the room, there is a huge number of statuettes representing divinities from different cultures, where the oriental gods compose a pyramid and on the top of it there is the Christian Madonna. In the centre of the room, on the fireplace, the poet arranged the steering wheel of an American friend who tragically died young trying to win a speed record. This is the most important cult in D’Annunzio’s mind set, the philosophy he followed to make his life a unique piece of art: always remember to hazard.
Because the groups of every guided tour inside the Prioria are composed by few people, we recommend to make a reservation and to buy the tickets in advanced, which is possible directly online, on the website of the Vittoriale.
Where to sleep near the Vittoriale
Hotel Lido International
(Viale Tommaso dal Molin, 6325015 Desenzano del Garda (BS). +39 030.9141027)
A great solution if you are looking for relax and you wish to fully benefit of the extraordinary beauty of the Lake Garda. It is very near to the centre of Desenzano and it also offers the opportunity to use a wide swimming pool on the edge of the lake.
Hotel Villa Florida
(Via Zanardelli 113, 25083 Gardone Riviera (BS). +39 0365 21836)
Find the accommodation that better suits your needs: you can choose between romantic suites, self catering apartments and the historical house Suite Rosenhof. A plus are private cooking classes and a biodynamic olive tree grove.
Where to eat near the Vittoriale
Osteria Antico Brolo
(Via Carere, 10, 25083 Gardone Riviera (BS). +39 0365 21421)
Choreographic presentation comes together with refined taste in this restaurant’s dishes. Located in a XVIII century mansion, the Antico Brolo will offer you traditional Italian dishes with a twist of creativity: just think of a tartare with foamed potatoes on top.
Il Fiore di Zucca
(Via Trieste16, 25083 Gardone Riviera (BS). +39 0365 20458)
Roman cuisine meets the traditional flavors of Brescia: spaghetti cacio e pepe and risotto with courgette flowers, abbacchio meat and seabass fillet, sacher torte and tiramisù.
How to get to the Vittoriale
By train. The nearest train station to the Vittoriale is in Desenzano del Garda, with daily connections to Venice and Milan.
By plane. Fly to Milan or Venice and reach the Vittoriale by train or by bus.