Home Culture Distinguished Guests: when the (real) “celebrities” strolled around Garda Trentino

Distinguished Guests: when the (real) “celebrities” strolled around Garda Trentino

by Isabelle Yrma Pace
Reading time 4 minutes
D'Annunzio, Goethe and Kafka...just to mention a few! How many distinguished visitors Garda Trentino had the honor to host! Do you know them? No clue who they are? Don't worry! We're going to reveal you the secret!

Lake Garda Trentino has been the center of social life for many centuries. A real meeting point for painters, writers, poets, bright and brilliant minds who loved to meet between Arco, Riva and Torbole to enjoy the amazing natural landscapes, the mild climate and the fervent cultural exchange in this strip of Mediterranean at the foot of the Alps.

From the seventeenth century Lake Garda became a destination for the Central European nobility. Towards the end of the following century, after Goethe visited the area, the shores of Garda Trentino became “inspiring muses” for painters, writers and poets who, admiring the authentic beauty of nature, felt their creative flair growing.

In 1786, during his Italian journey, Goethe arrived in Torbole. He was so impressed by the Mediterranean and Italian flair in Garda that he wrote:

“What an ardent desire I feel right now, admiring the enchanting view in front of me! How joyful I would feel to share this moment with you” .

Goethe wrote this to his fellow countrymen, Thomas and Heinrich Mann. The former started writing his work Tonio Kröger, one of his masterpieces, right in Riva del Garda. Then, during his stay in Riva, he literally fell in love with the Varone waterfall – it impressed and inspired him so much that it became part of one of his most important novels: The Magic Mountain.

The latter liked this area very much, too. As a matter of fact he spent two and a half years here – he was a regular guest of the “Sanatorium von Hartungen”. Some of his works “Young girls”, “Heroine” and “Small city”” take place right on Garda’s lake shores.

But the list of famous visitors in Garda Trentino doesn’t stop here. The poet Rilke stayed in Arco from 1897 to 1901. Here he composed twenty-five lyrics describing castles and white villages, which immediately bring to mind the towns of Tenno, Riva and Arco.

If you’re curious to know how Arco used to be in the past, you just need to take a look at Dürer‘s marvellous painting, View of the Arco Valley.. Dürer, one of the greatest Renaissance exponents, stopped in Arco for some time. Here he splendidly portrayed the castle and the town of Arco – the watercolor is now displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Garda Trentino was also well known to the writer and philosopher Franz Kafka who, recalling his stays in Riva in 1917, set right here one of his most beautiful short stories: The Hunter Gracchus.

The great philosopher Nietzsche, who stayed in Riva del Garda in 1880, wrote one of his most significant works: “The Dawn of Day”.

How could we ever forget the writer who made his dream come true right on the shores of Lake Garda. We’re obviously referring to one of the greatest Italian intellectual, Gabriele D’Annunzio. His connection to Lake Garda began in 1917 and became stronger since then. D’Annunzio entrusted his friend Giancarlo Maroni, a well renowned architect born in Arco, with the project of “Vittoriale degli Italiani”. This hillside estate was built on the shores of the town Gardone. In Riva there already were many works by Maroni. Among them the marvellous Hydroelectric Power Plant. D’Annunzio took another important role in Garda Trentino. In 1937 he became President ab aeterno of the Sailing Club Fraglia Vela di Riva (the Italian word “fraglia” was invented by the poet, apparently combining the words “brotherhood – fratellanza – and “family”). Not only did the Italian poet want this Club to be a sailing and racing association, but also a school of life and culture.

Another important representative of Garda Trentino’s culture was the poet and translator from Ledro, Andrea Maffei. He was a kind of “landlord” of the area, because he had important connections with renowned personalities of that time, among them the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the painter Francesco Hayez and the sculptors Vela and Dupré. In his home in Milan he hosted Listz, Stendhal and other famous protagonists of the Central European culture.

Distinguished Guests: when the (real) "celebrities" strolled around Garda Trentino Culture Garda Stories

Another renowned personality, born right in Arco in 1886, was the genius Gianni Caproni, who later became a pioneer in aeronautical engineering. The Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki dedicated him his animated film “The Wind Rises”. It talks about the history of mankind and of men having a Nietzschean ethical vision, in particular Caproni as undiscussed genius of aeronautical engineering.

Last but not least: Vasco Pratolini, one of the most famous representatives of the Neorealism movement after World War II.

Between 1935 and 1936 Pratolini stayed in Arco, in the sanatorium Villa delle Rose and Villa Bellaria. In his work Diario Sentimentale, in particular in the chapters Gli uomini che si voltano, il Diario di Villarosa and il Taccuino del convalescente, he writes about his illness during his stay in Garda Trentino.

Distinguished Guests: when the (real) "celebrities" strolled around Garda Trentino Culture Garda Stories

You can say it now – you can’t wait anymore to come here and walk along the narrow streets in Torbole as Goethe used to do! Or, as the poet D’Annunzio, you’d like to admire the Lake while standing on the imposant Hydroelectric power plant in Riva. Or you’d more for sunbathing in Arco as people used to do when Lake Garda was a heal resort ?

As it used to be in the past for distinguished guests, Garda Trentino is still here to welcome you and let you enjoy unforgettable moments. Now as then.

Distinguished guests, “trails of celebrities” in Garda Trentino.

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