Castles of Alto Garda: a novel route between the lake and the Dolomites

Castel Toblino

The Castles of the Alto Garda, standing out among the clearest views of Trentino, hide legends of all kinds. They contain stories that will absorb people of all ages. Toblino Castle is perhaps the best known of the Castles in Trentino. Unique in its kind, it is immersed in the lake in the middle of the valley between Padergnone and Sarche, in the Calavino area. Castel Toblino was born from a rocky outcrop detached from the mountain above and ended up in the lake. It has a square base shape, and it is a natural spectacle that blends in well with the robust crenellated walls and the magnificent park surrounding it. Two thousand years ago, it was conceived as a small temple dedicated to the worship of the fairies living on the island: that’s vouched for by a plaque located in the luxurious porch. Today all that’s left of the castle is the result of the rebuilding commissioned by Bernardo Clesio in the sixteenth century. Since then, the lacustrine character of the fortress distinguishes it in the whole Trentino. Within its walls mysteries and legends of the past are tangled – such as that of  Prince-Bishop Madruzzo and his beautiful lovers – which, today, are echoed in the flavors and aromas of the restaurant, genuine refuge for refined palates.

Castello di Arco di Trento

The Arco Castle is another example of perched fortress. Featuring a rich trail of olive trees that leads us to the entrance, and fields that are found once you cross the threshold, the Castle of Arco is a 1000 year old jewel, of which only the ancient wall and the two towers remain. Its charm has been immortalized in beautiful painting by Albrecht Durer, 1495, entitled “Fenedier Klawsen”. This imposing building, the work of “free nobles” who wanted to defend themselves from attacks, has endured through the centuries in spite of the vicissitudes that have affected it in the course of history. First bombarded by the French in the war of secession to the throne of Spain, then the object of contention between the owners of Arco, the castle was finally bought by the town of Arco in 1982. Its interiors, the third room in particular, are decorated with frescoes of the ‘300 – ‘400.

Castel Stenico

And what about Castel Stenico? Its history is linked to the Prince-Bishops of Trento, who also administered justice, but it was born as a refuge for the Stoni, an alpine population after which the town is named, then exterminated by the Romans. Early medieval complex of palaces and courtyards, the Stenico Castle dominates the valley of the outer Giudicarie. Imposing and severe on the outside, with its tower of hunger – so called because here prisoners were made die of starvation, and their restless souls would appear in full moon nights – it turns out to be elegant and precious in the inner rooms. Sculptures, frescoes, exquisite furnishings, collections from the Museum of the Castle of Buon Consiglio give it an extraordinary magnificence. The St. Martin chapel and its cycle of frescoes (early XIII) on the birth and life of Jesus, that came to light during the restoration of the eighties, are yet another hidden treasure.

If we want to finish our trip in style, going to see Castel Drena is worth for its evocative location. Its crenellated tower (27 m) stands, in fact , solitary in the beautiful desert of Marocche, an expanse of boulders of glacial origin: 187 million cubic meters.

And then Castel di Tenno (XII), precious fortress in the unique landscape that divides the Alpine routes to the Giudicarie, although it is not open to visitors, being a private residence.

Castello di Drena

Castello di Tenno

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