The Garda Island is at present owned by the Cavazza family. 130 Gallic-Roman tombstones found on the island prove the inhabitance of it during Roman times. Abandoned to its own ends during the centuries of the decline of the Roman Empire, it became a game reserve at the end of 879. he first historical mention can be found in a decree by Carloman in 879 which documented the donation of the island to the monks of San Zeno of Verona. Around 1220 St. Francis of Assisi visited many areas of northern Italy including Lake Garda, which in ancient times was called Benàco, on his return from the Orient through Albania and Dalmatia.

St.Francis believed it to be an ideal place for his monks as it was so far from the world and made a simple hermitage in the rocky part to the north. The island became an important ecclesiastic centre for meditation which hosted illustrious religious personalities, such as father Francesco Licheto from the noble Lechi family from Brescia, who in 1470 instituted a theology and philosophy school on the island.

The death of Father Francesco Licheto marked the beginning of a period of decadence for the religious community of the island. From 1685 to 1697 it was a convent for novices where the monks went into retreat.

In 1797 the the monastery was suppressed definitively by Napoleon and it later became the property of the state and in the following years had various owners including Count Luigi Lechi from Brescia (1817). Luigi Lechi ordered important restoration and construction work to then pass it on twenty years later to his brother Teodoro, ex general of the Napoleonic army, who made further alterations with the added to the terraces on the front of the villa. In 1860 it was dispossessed by the State and given to the army. The idea to build a fortress was though abandoned and was sold at auction; the property was awarded to Baron Scotti who sold it to Duke Gaetano de Ferrari of Genoa and his wife, the Russian Archduchess, Maria Annenkoff. Between 1880 and 1900 the new owners dedicated their time to planning and realizing the park, building containment walls towards the lake and importing fertile earth and exotic plants. The palace was enriched by Italian garden terraces with elaborately designed hedges and flowering bushes. Before the Duke’s death in 1893, the two of them together conceived the project of a palace to be built on the site of the old Lechi villa. The villa in Neogothic-Venetian was built between 1890 and 1903, on the project by architect Luigi Rovelli.​

The extremely complex building has its own stylistic unity and a rare stateliness. The façades are decorated by acutely arched windows and in the south-west corner stands a tower crowned with crenellation in stone with flowered neo-gothic style decorations. After the death of the Archduchess, the island passed in inheritance to her daughter Anna Maria, wife of Prince Scipione Borghese of Rome. Anna Maria loved the island very much and made it her home until the end of her life, taking care of the park and the family memories.​

In 1927, on the death of the Prince, the Island passed down to her daughter Livia, married to Count Alessandro Cavazza of Bologna who kept it in an excellent state to leave it to his son Camillo who in turn left it to his wife Charlotte and their seven children. Today they continue to passionately look after the park and the palace where they live.​

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User Reviews

Paul Janssen (14 months ago)
One of the most beautiful tours I’ve ever experienced. The guides are part of the family that owns, maintains, and renovates the island including the beautiful gardens and villa. Our guide was very passionate about her heritage and was happy to share her experiences of growing up on the island.
Prime Vision (19 months ago)
Beautiful wedding venue in Garda!
Gabriele Guidoni (2 years ago)
Isola del Garda, hosting Villa Borghese Cavazza, is a fairytale island with a breathtaking Venetian neogothic Villa; Privately owned by the Cavazza family the Villa is open to visits and hosts many events/weddings; The 1894 luxurious palace, the Italian symmetric gardens, quay and park come from the mind of the duke Gaetano De Ferrari and his noble Russian wife Maria Sergeevna Annenkova; ~2hrs Tourist visit comes in a bundle with the boat transfer from the main Garda lake cities (e.g. From Sirmione return ticket 38€ Adults, 22€ Kids) and a welcome drink in the main terrace overlooking the majestic green/blue waters of the lake; Furthermore the tour guide will be a member of the Cavazza family, in my case was the extremely kind, educated and professional Alberta Cavazza; The island is so beautiful you cannot believe that it is true; I left my heart there as one of the most beautiful places ever seen and I dream to marry in this wonderful location; Tip: Check the video "Lake Garda Wedding Videography | Lorna & Trevor" on VIMEO to experience how a wedding would be there;
Paolo Berzacola (3 years ago)
stupenda location, per eventi e matrimoni. Vengo chiamato qui per raccontare con le mie foto i momenti più emozionanti di giornate intense, vissute dall'alba al tramonto.
Adinda Nurhidayati (3 years ago)
Really well kept island, humble owner, and great family and building history to listen to from its own family member! The tour includes light refreshments too. Wear sandals so you can feel the fresh and clean lake water. And hey visitors please do not litter! The place is too gorgeous to be ruined with piles of garbage
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