Gardone Riviera, a picturesque village on the side of Brescia, is famous because after the First World War the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio took up his residence here, giving birth to what he called the “Vittoriale degli Italiani”.
But the history of this village goes back much further, to the Medieval time of the Longobards, as the name recalling “Garda” suggests, from the germanic “warda”, fortress. During the Medieval time, Gardone was feud of the Earls of Desenzano and later it belonged to the Bishops of Brescia, with whom he threw in his lot, supporting alternatively the Visconti of Milan and Venice.
In 1509, during the war between the Lega of Cambrai, supported by the Pope Giulio II, and Venice, it was plundered, while in 1521 it was part of the Magnifica Patria, the union of the cities on the west coast. In 1797 it was destroyed by Brescia, because it supported the Serenissima.
At the end of the XIX century, a prosperous period began, and the town became one of the most important resorts of the Lake, thanks to Ludwig Wimmer, an engineer from Vienna, which promoted Gardone as winter resort for his fellow countrymen.
After Wimmer, d’Annunzio in 1921 helped to make of Gardone a famous place thanks to his project of the Vittoriale.