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Gardens, vegetable gardens and centuries-old parks

Discover Brescia from a new perspective: its splendid gardens, botanical gardens, and centuries-old parks. From Franciacorta to Lake Garda, from Camonica Valley to Brescia’s plain, our province is rich in nature paradises, each with their unique personalities. They are ideal spots for nature enthusiasts and people who want to enjoy an afternoon out.

Get ready for an exclusive selfie: let the journey begin!

Lake Garda and its gardens full of flowers, vegetables, and lemons

THE FOUR GREAT ITALIAN GARDENS ON BRESCIA’S COAST OF LAKE GARDA

The western coast of Lake Garda is in the province of Brescia. It boasts no less than four sites listed in the circuit of the Great Italian Gardens.

giardino-botanico-andre-heller-gardone-riviera ©Heller Garden

The spotlight is Gardene Riviera where you find André Heller Botanic Garden, 10,000 square metres displaying plants from all over the world in a unique setting featuring streams, lily pads, grottoes, Japanese gardens, heavenly flowers, and contemporary art sculptures.  Another garden listed in this prestigious club is the exterior of Vittoriale degli Italiani, a monumental complex with view of the lake which reflects the eclectic identity of its founder, poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. One of its most surprising attractions is the big military vessel called Puglia, nestled into the hill where the park is. 

A little further south, in the waters of San Felice del Benaco, we see Isola del Garda with its imposing Venetian Gothic Revival villa and luxurious gardens. Of particular interest is the stunning Italian garden, with symmetrical bushes and patterns of timeless elegance. The orchard is also worth mentioning. There are orange, lemon, pomegranate, grapefruit, prickly pear, and olive trees growing on the lower terrace, by the lake. Other noteworthy features are the beautiful flowers and Canary Island palm trees. You can visit the island by joining a guided tour.

Another garden in the list of Great Italian Gardens is Rocca di Lonato and Casa del Podestà. The site is composed of a medieval fortress, today the venue of numerous cultural events, and the house-museum of Ugo da Como, with its grandiose library containing over 50,000 pieces. The park of the fortress is a beautiful example of coppiced wood with olive trees, vines, and native plants. The grassy slopes overlooking the village of Lonato are very scenic.

Villa Bettoni di Gargnano
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©Villa Bettoni

You can’t miss a visit to Villa Bettoni di Gargnano, part of the prestigious Italian Register of Historic Mansions of Excellence and recently reopened to guided tours. The tour touches the aristocratic rooms which hosted illustrious people including Giacomo Puccini, Victor Hugo, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Napoleon Bonaparte. The villa’s Italian garden is of extraordinary beauty. Surrounded by large olive and citrus gardens, it contains the remains of an old lemon garden. To book your tour, visit the official site of Villa Bettoni.

Lake Garda lemon gardens
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©Visit Limone sul Garda

Present for over five centuries, the lemon gardens have been a characterising trait of the landscape of upper Lake Garda. Archives reveal that there were over one hundred active lemon gardens on Lake Garda up to the Italian Unification, when lemon trade became less profitable and the majestic terraced structures were left neglected and unused.

In recent years, some historic lemon gardens were the object of extensive restoration. Some of the sites that are still in operation and open to the public are Limonaia del Castel and Limonaia di Villa Boghi, both in Limone sul Garda, and the lemon gardens in Toscolano Maderno visible from the pier and the garden by the lake. A popular tourist site is Malora in Gargnano, where you can experience “The art of growing lemons on Lake Garda” using old methods – a true journey back in time, as far as 1500.

The pride of this immense heritage is Pra dela fam, the largest lemon garden on Lake Garda. Located by the beach of Tignale, this lemon garden features 88 citrus trees producing lemons, bitter and sweet oranges, cedars, grapefruits, mandarins, and bergamots. It can be opened and closed using well-established traditional techniques. Restored starting from 1985, it became part of the national eco-museum system in 2011. Since 2017, it has offered guided tours and tastings.

BETWEEN THE LAKE AND THE CITY: VILLA MAZZUCCHELLI

As you move towards Brescia, we recommend a visit to Villa Mazzucchelli in Mazzano. With its two museums – The Fashion Museum and the Museum of Wine and Corkscrew -, the richly frescoed rooms, and the enchanting centuries-old park, it has become part of the tourist itineraries touching Brescia’s surrounding area and lower Lake Garda.

Opened to the public in 2013, the park was completed in 1755 with a typical Italian design. It has a total surface of 60,000 and contains old agricultural tools and equipment. There is also a 260 and plus year old Lebanon cedar. For information and reservations: www.villamazzucchelli.it.

Great Italian Gardens in Franciacorta

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©Fondazione Zani

The network of the Great Italian Gardens could not remain indifferent to the charm of Franciacorta. Among the listed gardens are Fondazione Zani House-Museum in Cellatica, whose Italian garden’s design includes sculptures, fountains, paths, lily pads, and artistically pruned plants. It’s a truly fascinating visit. The Oriental influence is strong: macro-Bonsais, a Chinese juniper, and Japanese carps between the aquatic plants. The park is the perfect complement to the house-museum with its 850 masterpieces including artistic objects, furniture, and paintings by famous artists such as Canaletto, Tiepolo, and Boucher.

Wine lovers – and not only them – cannot miss visiting Bellavista vineyards. They represent the productive heart of one of the best known brands of Franciacorta DOCG. From the vineyard with its 206 hectares of biodiversity to the cellar, master enologists will explain the unique production method which only a handful of brands in the world still pursue.

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©Castello Quistini

Franciacorta has more surprises for you! Divided into several areas, the garden of Quistini Castle in Rovato is a surprise, in particular for its incredible rose labyrinth and the Bioenergetic garden opened in 2004, following the old concept that some plants have significant therapeutic properties. The “brolo” – orchard – boasts unique fruit varieties, some rare, while the vegetable garden contains about 50 officinal plants. The garden is used for events and craft workshops. It is open from spring to autumn.

Another prestigious location is Franciacorta Sculpture Park, 61,000 hectares of greenery and 13 contemporary art installations all made by artists under 30 of various nationalities. The park can be visited only by appointment by contacting the reception of Albereta: tel +39 030 7760550 – info@albereta.it

Gardens and nature in Brescia’s plain

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Less known but equally beautiful, Brescia’s plain is dotted with green areas ideal for a relaxing day. Among these are Angelo and Lina Nocivelli Park in Verolanuova, which obtained a spot in the Great Italian Gardens list thanks to its choreographic water games, trees encouraging bird nesting, and elegant tuff-bordered paths. Very popular among families with children, the park is completed by an amphitheatre with stage and terraces and a modern food stand with ample outdoor seating.

Immersed in a quiet atmosphere and graced by unforgettable sunsets Padernello Castle is no short of pleasant surprises. One of them is San Vigilio Brigde by Giuliano Mauri, which can be visited accompanied by local guides for a holistic experience in close contact with nature. For information, visit the “Events” section on the website www.castellodipadernello.it.

Finally, the green area surrounding Bonoris Castle in Montichiari is composed of several areas: a forest, a large park with centuries-old trees, and the suspended garden with an evocative view of the town.

The centuries-old parks of Brescia’s spas

CAMONICA VALLEY SPA PARKS

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A corner of ultimate peace with a three-century history. A true reference in the mineral water therapy world, Terme di Boario were completely renovated in 2008 to adjust to the modern needs of spa tourism. Terme di Boario Park is a fixture for anyone who wants to practice sports or simply leave stress behind and enjoy the cool air away from summer heat. The centuries-old park welcomes you with its 130,000 sqm of surface, a fitness trail, a botanic garden, and the new Adventure Park. Of course, you will also find the thermal springs with different types of waters. A food stand is present in the park. Paid entrance. For information, visit the official website of Terme di Boario.

Not far from Boario, the Park of Terme di Angolo was also recently renovated. Bordered by the river and immersed in silence, the park is open to the public and features small lakes, centuries-old trees, and flat trails. The thermal spa is not available at the moment.

TERME DI VALLIO AND NEW BOTANIC TRAIL

We also want to highlight the many opportunities offered by Terme di Vallio in Sabbia Valley. The Botanic Trail was recently opened. It is a continuation of the old pine forest on the side of the facility. It offers visitors the opportunity to walk, relax, and at the same time learn about a wide variety of native, officinal, and edible plants. The park is just a few km from the Mediterranean-style climate of Lake Garda.

Other parks, vegetable gardens, and gardens in the province of Brescia

Other parks which complete the province of Brescia’s green offering are:

“VIVIONE” ALPINE BOTANIC GARDEN IN PAISCO LOVENO (CAMONICA VALLEY)

This garden focuses on increasing the public understanding of science. It contains about 400 species found in the eastern Orobie (Bergamasque Alps). Organised in 16 sections, each dedicated to a specific habitat, the garden is enriched by a xylotheque (wood collection) and an educational room with unusual objects connected to the world of insects and minerals.

For information: www.foresteriagiardino.it

G.E. GHIRARDI BOTANIC GARDEN IN TOSCOLANO MADERNO (LAKE GARDA)

This botanic garden with a surface of over 10,000 m² is currently the property of the University of Milan and managed by the Biology Department. It contains several officinal plants from China, South America, and South Africa.

For information: www.prolocotoscolanomaderno.com

MONTAGNOLA BOTANIC GARDEN IN BRESCIA

A pleasant naturalistic experience on the northern side of Cidneo, the hill on which  Brescia’s Castle stands, it is composed of meadows, forests, wet areas, screes, water streams, ornamental gardens and even pine forests, in honour of the old park closed in the 90s. The cold microclimate favours the preservation of chestnut, oak, European hornbeam and European hop-hornbeam trees.

For information: www.comune.brescia.it

PARK OF THE DANCING GRASS IN PARATICO (LAKE ISEO)

Former docking area for barges and unused until a few years ago, this splendid area on the lake was completely redeveloped with the introduction of green areas of various dimensions, flower beds, and large vintage basins. The old train tracks used for freight transportation were preserved. This restoration made the area accessible again; it is particularly appreciated by tourists for the marvellous view and lakefront walk.

For information: www.comune.paratico.bs.it

TAXODI PARK IN PARATICO (LAKE ISEO)

A walk in the forest using suspended boardwalks among over 200 aquatic plants to discover an incredibly biodiverse environment which gives shelter to splendid grey herons. The park belongs to the Municipality of Paratico and is bordered by Oglio River right at the start of Lake Iseo. It was recently restored. At the moment, it can only be visited on weekends in the summer, at specific times.

For information: www.comune.paratico.bs.it

CONIFER BOTANIC GARDEN IN OME (FRANCIACORTA)

With no less than 7 different conifer families and 82 species, Ome Botanic Garden is a corner of paradise far from car traffic. It can only be reached on foot from the hamlet of Valle and is a very popular school field trip destination.

For information: www.comune.ome.bs.it

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