History of Lake Garda

History of

See guide for highlights and historic monuments

The western Lake Garda has been inhabited since prehistoric times, a fact proven by a bilingual inscription found near Tremosine that testifies that both the Ligurians and then the Etruscans lived here

Next the Lake was conquered by the Cenomani Gauls, and later again by the Romans. The first Latin group of which we know something is the so-called "Benacenses", that probably took the name from the Garda Lake, at that time known as Benacus.

In the Medieval Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was conquered by Odoacer and Theodoric, and they also established various monasteries (San Salvatore, Leno and the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria of Maguzzano").

Around the XII-XIII centuries, the western Lake Garda was governed by some powerful feudal families from Brescia - the construction of the castle of Salò dates from this period.

The area was then controlled by the Scaligeri, Lords from Verona, with Mastino della Scala (1308-1351) constructing the magnificent fortress in Sirmione in the 13th century.

From 1400 to 1700 the western Lake Garda was governed by the Venetians, who had to fight hard to retain keep the region, disputed by Visconti and Sforza from Milan, and by the French Charles VIII at the beginning of the 16th century.

Falling to Napoleon the region became known as the Cantone of the Benaco. Later the region became part of the struggles of the Risorgimento and secret associations such as the Carbonari emerged from the area.

The country became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860, and from that time on the focus has been rather on tourism, with a significant expansion in the road network and hotels.