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.​

References:

Comments

Your name



Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paul Janssen (9 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 (14 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
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.