The Museums of Garda Veneto and its Hinterland

The Museums of Garda Veneto and its hinterland are varied in kind and apt to satisfy the most diverse tastes

The Museums of Garda Veneto and its hinterland are varied in kind and apt to satisfy the most diverse tastes: all are certainly worth a visit. They are a viable alternative to the many attractions the lake offers during the fine season, but they are also an interesting experience per se, when the weather is playing up.

They range from food and wine (like the ones dedicated to Wine and Oil in Bardolino and Cisano respectively) to the properly historical or anthropological ones. There are some dedicated to the traditions of the lake (like the Museo del Lago or Lake Museum, in Cassone, a fraction of Malcesine) and there are some that are truly unique, like the Nicolis Museum in Villafranca di Verona.
Let us review some for you.

Il Museo dell’Olio – the Oil Museum (Cisano di Bardolino)
Owners Flavio Turri and wife Liliana have a passion for oil and personally run this little gem of a museum. It walks you through the various techniques of olive processing with the various machineries that were used throughout the centuries, and has become famous in the whole of Europe (it attracts 50 thousand visitors every year). It boasts rare pieces (like the impressive oak wood lever press) coming from all over Europe. Don’t miss the tastings at the shop next to the Museum!

Il Museo del Vino – the Wine Museum (Bardolino)
This museum is the by-product of the wine-growing traditions of one of the most important and oldest wineries of the area: Cantina Zeni. It shows the tools and machinery used in the various ages to collect grapes and produce wine. Besides the shop and the tasting corner, be sure you don’t miss the Bottaia, or barrel cellar. There, barrels of all sizes – the biggest containing over 15 thousand litres! – rest in the cool, unstirred air, and contain wines that need ageing, like the famous Amarone (at least two years in a barrel).

Il Museo del Lago di Garda - The Garda Lake Museum (at the Palazzetto delle Esposizioni in Garda)
Findings and materials that testify to the traditions and customs of the lake area are the highlight of this museum that takes two floors. The first floor displays testaments linked to farming, craft, breeding, mining and domestic activities. The second floor exhibits fishing tools, including nets, spears and harpoons.

Il Museo del Lago – the Lake Museum (Cassone harbour, Malcesine area)
This is a true gem that is worth a visit, especially for the kids. Besides a huge aquarium holding alborella (a typical Garda fish, that is the main ingredient of many traditional recipes but which is very hard to come by today), there are also many kinds of hooks, nets, and embalmed fish. The period photographs on show tell of how the landscape has changed over time, and serve to remember the fishermen’s traditions. Outside there are two tanks with freshwater fish, since the building was first used as an incubator for fish breeding.

Il Museo Etnografico - Ethnographic Museum (Castelletto di Brenzone)
It is a very useful treat to understand what life was like in this area between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The museum is in the town’s old centre, and is a replica of a typical household of the time, showing original tools for fishing, sericulture and other activities that went on in the area.

Il Museo Sisàn delle tradizioni ornitologiche ittiche e venatorie del comprensorio gardesano - Sisàn Museum of ornithological, fishing and hunting traditions of the Garda district (Cisano di Bardolino)
The museum is run by the Associazione sagra degli Osei, which also presides over the organization of the typical fair (among the oldest in Italy, and certainly the oldest in Veneto) for call birds used in hunting, that has taken place in Cisano every 8 September since 1840. The museum’s aim is to preserve knowledge of ornithology and historical-artisanal traditions of the Basso Garda linked to fishing and agriculture.

Il Museo della pesca e della tradizione - Fishing and traditions Museum (Peschiera del Garda)
To re-live the life of fisherman, the history and traditions linked to their activities, it is worth visiting this museum set up in Radetzky Hall of the Porta Verona Caserma d’Artiglieria (Artillery Barracks). Some very interesting pieces stand out, like some old two-paddle vessels to be rowed standing up, typical of Peschiera. There is also a gondolin (for fishing with nets and spears) and an anguilara (for fishing eels, but not only), its flat bottom making it able to navigate rushes and canals.

Il Museo del Castello di Torri del Benaco - Torri del Benaco’s Castle Museum
This museum is inside the Scaliger Castle on the lakefront at Torri del Benaco and winds along many halls, one of them the Sala dei Calafati, dedicated to the activities of artisans who built and repaired fishing boats, waterproofing them with tar. The area of Torri, for its rocks smoothed by glaciers, is famous for its rock engravings that hunters and shepherds made in the dawn of time, and that is why these engravings have a dedicated hall in the museum. There is also a very evocative lemon orchard, the Limonaia, where the plants are sheltered by boards and windows at the end of November and exposed again at the beginning of spring.

Il Museo di Storia Naturale del Baldo e del Garda - Mount Baldo and Garda’s Natural History Museum (inside the Barracks of Malcesine’s Scaliger Castle)
It has been completely renovated and is structured along nine halls and two floors. The lower floor gives all the elements a visitor needs to imagine being on lake Garda’s bed, exploring its geological formation, its fauna, and so on. The first floor of the museum is dedicated to Mount Baldo, with its unique flora and wildlife that change according to the altitude. Many species are embalmed.

Il Museo Napoleonico – the Napoleonic Museum (Rivoli Veronese)
In the museum - dedicated to Napoleon’s influence in the history of Italy – a section is dedicated to Napoleon’s famous victory over the Austrians while engaged in conquering northern Italy: the battle of Rivoli, in January 1797. Prints, arms, authentic documents, paintings, mementos and many objects owned by Francesco Galanti, commander of the ship that took Napoleon to his exile on Isle of Elba, are enriched by copies of documents granted by the War Museums of Vienna and Paris.

Il Museo Paleontologico Fedrigo – the Fedrigo Paleontological Museum (Sona)
All exhibits in the museum are in the township library, and were donated to the Town of Sona by Attilio Fedrigo, a collector of natural sciences. The collection includes trilobites, ammonites, remains of elephants and other prehistoric mammals, coming both from Italy and abroad, dating back to the remotest of eras, from the Paleozoic to thousands of years ago.

Il Museo Nicolis dell’Auto, della Tecnica e della Meccanica – the Nicolis Museum of Cars, Technology and Mechanics (Villafranca di Verona)
Guided visits and educational tours to learn about the evolution of technology are just some of the things that are possible in a museum that boasts true rarities ranging from cars, bicycles, motorcycles, planes, musical instruments, cameras, typewriters and engines. Among the many treats are 200 vintage cars and 100 Formula 1 steering wheels.