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Hidden Treasures - Itinerary With Goethe in Torbole

"The delicious spectacle of Lake Garda, I did not want to miss, and I am delightfully rewarded for my detour"


Easy route from Nago to Torbole, covering the brief visit of the poet Goethe in 1786, at the outset of his long trip in Italy.

Start: Piazza Gazzoletti, Nago
End: Via Matteotti, Torbole
Length: 1.5 km
Duration: 1h 30'
Elevation difference: 150 m.
Difficulty: easy (downhill)
Notes: Suitable for families and children, it is only suitable for stroller or wheelchairs in the latter half located in Torbole. 

1 Nago

Heute abend hätte ich können in Verona sein, aber es lag mir noch eine herrliche Naturwirkung an der Seite, ein köstliches Schauspiel, der Gardasee, den wollte ich nicht versäumen, und bin herrlich für meinen Umweg belohnt
J. W. Goethe, Italienische Reise, Kap. 4 “Vom Brenner bis Verona” (Torbole, den 12. September, nach Tische)

Between 1786 and 1787 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, already well-known author of "The Sorrows of Young Werther" and minister in Weimar, visited Italy, looking for new inspiration in the country of high culture and classical authors. On the way Verona as passenger on a stagecoach, goethe settled on a detour to Lake Garda, which had already been the visited by important personalities of European culture such as the French philosopher Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1780) or even before Albrecht Dürer (1495).
Goethe already knew the beauty of Lake Garda from the stories of his predecessors, and did not intend to miss this "magnificent product of nature." His brief visit, described in the "Italian Journey" firmly placed Lake Garda on the maps as door to Mediterranean Italy for all that would follow.
2 Santa Lucia Road

“Die Feigenbäume hatten mich schon den Weg herauf häufig begleitet, und indem ich in das Felsamphitheater hinabstieg, fand ich die ersten Ölbäume voller Oliven. Hier traf ich auch zum erstenmal die weißen kleinen Feigen als gemeine Frucht, welche mir die Gräfin Lanthieri verheißen hatte”
J. W. Goethe, Italienische Reise, Kap. 4 “Vom Brenner bis Verona” (Torbole, den 12. September, nach Tische)

The old road of Santa Lucia, a trail of Roman origin decending at the foot of the cliff of Castel Penede, was for centuries the only road between Nago and Torbole. Here, Goethe makes his first encounter with the Mediterranean environment, taking note of the olive trees and figs that grow plentiful in the valley.  Olive trees are an indigenous plant: the Garda Trentino is one of the northernmost areas in which these plants grow naturally.

"Galeas for Montes": The road of Saint Lucia was already known in Europe for the enterprise of the Venetians in 1439: in an attempt to wrestle domination of Lake Garda from the Visconti of Milan, they sailed a fleet of warships from the Adriatic along the river Adige in order to reach Lake Garda through the northeastern land passage (rolling on planks). In the final part of their journey, the ships were lowered with ropes along Via Saint Lucia, with open sails so the strong southern wind would brake them. A bronze plaque at the end of the road recalls the undertaking today. 
3 Castel

“Zugleich lehrt mich Volkmann, daß dieser See ehemals Benacus geheißen, und bringt einen Vers des Virgil, worin dessen gedacht wird:
Fluctibus et fremitu resonans Benace marino.

Der erste lateinische Vers, dessen Inhalt lebendig vor mir steht, und der in dem Augenblicke, da der Wind immer stärker wächst und der See höhere Wellen gegen die Anfahrt wirft, noch heute so wahr ist als vor vielen Jahrhunderten.”
J. W. Goethe, Italienische Reise, Kap. 4 “Vom Brenner bis Verona” (Torbole, den 12. September, nach Tische)

The so-called "Castello" of Torbole, nowadays Belvedere, is all that remains of an ancient medieval tower, and provides an excellent panoramic vantage point. The ubiquitous olive, agave and the palm trees on Matteotti street bring an early hint of Mediterranean to the area.
The strong afternoon wind (“Ora”) he met during his descent, and the wide expanse of Lake Garda remind Goethe of Virgil: "Fluctibus et fremitu Resonans (correctly: adsurgens) Benace marino": "Benaco* swelling with the waves and might of the sea". For Goethe Lake Garda is the first verse of the Latin classics which finally becomes reality before his eyes. 

(*Benaco is the old name of Lake Garda)
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Official Garda Trentino S.p.A. - Azienda per il Turismo's site:

Riva del Garda (TN) Largo Medaglie d'oro, 5

Tel: +39 (0464) 554444 - Fax: +39 (0464) 025442

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PEC: gardatrentino@pec.gardatrentino.it

Torbole sul Garda - Nago (TN) Lungolago Conca d'oro, 25

Arco (TN) Viale delle Palme, 1

Registro Imprese Trento, C.F. e P. IVA 01855030225

Cap. Soc. € 499.000,00 I.V. - REA N. 182762

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