Vittoriale degli Italiani (Gardone Riviera – BS)
The first step of our big summer trip 2017 in Slovenia and Croazia was a stop of a few nights on the Lago di Garda: we took advantage of this step for visiting the Vittoriale degli Italiani, in Gardone Riviera, on the Brescia side of the lake.
The Vittoriale degli Italiani is often described as the last “home” of Gabriele D’Annunzio; the truth is that the Vittoriale is a group of buildings, squares, gardens, fountains, roads and creeks where D’Annunzio had a house: in this house he spent the last 17 years of his life and it is the place his body is still preserved, inside a mausoleum dedicated to him.
You can choose between different kinds of ticket (you can find out more info here) for the visit of the Vittoriale. We chose the light ticket, which included a free visit of the Parco Monumentale and the Museo del D’Annunzio segreto.
I must admit that it was not one of my priority places to see, but we trusted the suggestion of a colleague and it did not disappoint us. D’Annunzio was, in my opinion, a controversial character: writer, war hero, politician closely related to the dawn of fascism, his hedonism and theatricality are totally reflected in the entire complex of buildings. The park is monumental, in every sense of the word, enriched with art works, also by contemporary artists, with massive buildings, like the mausoleum, and delightful garden corners with a fairy atmosphere.
We didn’t know at all this park, so we were shocked by the presence, in a land-based area, of a military ship, the Ariete Torpediniere Puglia, given to D’Annunzio by Mussolini at his request. The ship is not intact, due also to the dismantling for the transport on land, but all the prow and a large part of its structure have been rebuilt (the deck, the artillery, the castle etc.).
I must say that seeing a giant ship under a hill, especially for people who didn’t know it like us, is a mind-blowing experience. I felt myself like a 6 years old little girl!
Inside a hangar of the Vittoriale you can also find a motorboat, the MAS 96, used by D’Annunzio during a popular incursion (the Beffa di Buccari) and for his personal movements through the Lago di Garda. Outside the hangar, you can read D’Annunzio’s Latin motto:
Memento Audere Semper
In addition, different kinds of artillery are scattered all over the park, including the cannon used as a hearse for the Poet’s funeral.
I don’t like so much the Museo di D’Annunzio segreto: it hosts personal stuff like clothes, shoes, jewellery (owned by the poet and his lovers). However, the visit to the Parco Monumentale del Vittoriale was really great. I really appreciated the gardens (they reminded me Villa Lante’s gardens) and the ship. Many visitors use to stay more on the top of buildings ignoring the part of the Parco Monumentale that includes the mausoleum: it’s a shame, because it worth it.