Lake Garda offers various options for those who would like to further get to know the historical and artistic culture, food and wine and the traditions of the region.
Following you will find our ideas for a museum visit.
MAG Museo Alto Garda
The acronym MAG stands for Museo Alto Garda, which comprises two museum buildings, among the most important in the Lake Garda area: the museum in the Rocca of Riva del Garda and the Galleria Civica G. Segantini inside Arco’s Palazzo dei Panni. The museum houses three permanent exhibitions alongside temporary exhibitions.
The Pinacoteca art gallery displays regional works of the fine arts from the Late Middle Ages to the 19th century, while the archaeology section lets visitors explore the area’s findings that range from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Late Middle Ages. The third permanent exhibition depicts historical events around the area of Riva del Garda and the Sarca, the main river flowing into Lake Garda, in chronological order - from Prehistory to the Second World War.
The Galleria Civica G. Segantini is situated in the 17th century Palazzo dei Panni and houses a permanent exhibition of the Pointillist painter Giovanni Segantini from Arco. The museum is open daily, apart from Monday, from 10 am to 6 pm and in July and August from 3:30 to 10 pm. Entrance is free; guided tours are offered on request.
Close by there are carparks. Further information on entrance tickets is available on the MAG website.
Olive Oil Museum
On the shore of Lake Garda, in Bardolino’s Cisano district, is the Cisano oil factory (Oleificio Cisano), where an olive oil museum is based. The museum, inaugurated at the end of the 80s, registers 50.000 visitors per year. It takes visitors on an exploration of oleiculture in the Mediterranean from antiquity to this day and age, as well as the machines for olive harvest and olive oil production from the 18th century. A perfectly functioning oil mill with a water wheel and an oak wood lever press are also among the tools on display.
The museum includes a small shop where visitors can acquire products from the Cisano oil factory and Lake Garda: olive oil, vinegar, grappas and spirits, wine and cosmetics from natural extracts.
The museum, which can be visited individually without charge, is open from 9 am to 12 pm and from 2:30 pm to 7 pm on weekdays, and in the morning on Sundays and public holidays. Half of it is barrier-free. Guided tours (liable to costs) for groups are offered, and video guides are available in various languages (Italian, German, English, French and Dutch). Further information is available on the museum website. The museum is easily identifiable because of its location on Gardesana street. It boasts a fenced carpark with about ten parking spaces.
Again in Bardolino, the Cantina Fratelli Zeni winery in Via Costabella houses the wine museum. It is subdivided into various sections that each focus on a different aspect of the production chain - from winegrowing to the final bottling of the finished product. The first area concentrates on the processes of winegrowing and -producing and puts old and new wine processing machines on display. It also exhibits different animal drawn ploughs as well as pumps and bellows with sulphur- and copper-based pesticides traditionally used for pest control. In the second area, grape processing tools are on display, among them scales and two winemaking implements, the first a mechanical one from the beginning of the last century and the second a manual one from the Middle Ages. The next section is dedicated to wine production and houses an ancient wine press, a few wine pumps and different corking machines. There are also areas dedicated to cooper’s tools, an exhibition of old winemaking machines and, finally, a section on bottling, the last phase of the production process. The last section is exciting in that it is located in the area where the winery’s wine is really bottled. The wine museum, which boasts a carpark, can also be visited in groups. There are tailored offers on request and at a charge, among them wine tours and tastings. For further information, visit the website of the wine museum.
Museum in the Castle of Torri del Benaco
The Scaliger castle on the lakeside in Torri del Benaco houses this museum, in which a series of findings and objects testify to the artisan and industrial history of the city. From the entrance, where a well with a yellow marble well curb is located, visitors have access to the defence tower adjoining the tower, now site of the museum.
The museum consists of various museum halls, each dedicated to one theme. In the hall of the caulkers - artisans responsible for shipbuilding and maintenance - visitors can see their tools, among them three planes, various gimlets and saws as well as three axes, the cutting tool representative of the caulkers. Another hall is dedicated to olive oil, which - together with wine - is the regional product par excellence; inside there are machines for olive oil extraction and production, while outside visitors can see an olive oil mill from the last century.
The hall dedicated to fishing is subdivided in various sections. It displays fishing equipment, from various nets whose materials, loops and types of use vary according to the fish caught, to tools for depth sounding. Another hall focuses on the fishing guild "Antichi Originari" founded in the Middle Ages. Here, visitors can - among other objects - explore a series of documents and photos that tell their story. At the centre of the next hall, which looks back on the history of Torri del Benaco, is a model of the town. The last section of the exhibition, located in the attic, houses cave paintings from the area. Visitors to the museum can also pay a visit to the Limonaia.
The marvellous lemon house testifies to the cultivation of this citrus fruit in one of the northernmost regions of the Mediterranean. The museum at the Scaliger castle in Torri is open from April to October with varying opening hours: from April to mid June and from mid September to the end of October from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2:30 to 6 pm and from mid June to mid September from 9:30 am to 13 pm and from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. For further information on visits and entrance, visitors can consult the website of the museum. Behind the castle, there is a rather large car park (at a charge).
The paper museum is located inside the centre of excellence of the Paper Mill Valley Foundation (Fondazione Valle delle Cartiere). It was inaugurated in June 2007 and is one of the most important sites in Northern Italy when it comes to industrial archaeology.
The first evidence of paper mills or paper manufacturers in the Toscolano-Maderno area dates back to the 14th century. Since then, the area, also referred to as "Paper Mill Valley", has dedicated itself entirely to paper production. Legend has it that the construction of the first paper mill was due to a shipwrecked boat whose sail was washed overboard into one of Toscolano’s bays. There it got soaked in water and was then dried and compressed by the sun in a way that made it suitable to write on. At the instigation of the city of Toscolano-Maderno, the paper museum was set up in the last paper mill to cease production.
Its design is that of a study centre of paper and print production, with sections subdivided according to themes and procedures, as well as workshops and conference rooms.
On request, groups can visit the museum all the year round. It is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm in the months from April to 7th October and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm from 13 to 28 October. The Paper Mill Valley, Valle delle Cartiere, can be reached by car - visitors can park along the street. Further information regarding visits and entrance ticket fees can be found on the museum website.
Museum of Lake Garda
The Museum of Lake Garda (Museo del Lago di Garda) is located in the borough of Garda, more precisely inside the Palazzetto delle Esposizioni.
It assembles findings and materials that testify to the customs and traditions of the Lake Garda area. From an original collection of objects that tell the stories of historical events, the collection has expanded and was finally turned into a museum in 2011. After a short closure time, it reopened to the public on 1 February 2015. The museum is situated on two floors, the first of which is dedicated to land, the second to water. On the lower floor, objects and tools from the agricultural sector, the crafts, livestock farming, extraction and folklore are on display; on the upper flow, fishing tools are on show, among them nets, harpoons and hooks.
The museum is open in the afternoons from Friday to Sunday from 3 to 6 pm and can also be visited in the mornings from 10 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. The Museum of Lake Garda can easily be reached on foot; there is a car park not too far away. For further information on entrance and guided tours, visitors can consult the website of the city of Garda.
The Museum of Fishing and Lake Traditions
The Museum of Fishing and Lake Traditions is in the headquarters of the Association Amici del Gondolin in Peschiera del Garda at the Artillery Barrack of Porta Verona in the beautiful setting of the Radetzky Room, a former fireworks laboratory.
The permanent exhibition celebrates the fishing art and it collects and classifies a large quantity of material related to commercial and recreational fishing, to the caulking activity, to the hunting on the lake area and much more. It is important not to forget the old customs as well as the heritage of the past when fishing used to be a source of life and a primary means of sustenance.
The photos of anglers, a suggestive collection of ancient postcards, the captions of the different kinds of fishes and of the geological qualities of the lake take the visitor on a fascinating journey. The exhibition continues with the collection of old and rare typical boats like the so-called "anguilara" (used for fishing eels), the ancient "torbetta" (used to preserve the catch alive), the "spingarda" (used for the hunt on the lake) and the old boat of the Yole type, originally from the lake Como, that was used by a group of locals between the twenties and the thirties for an adventurous trip along the river Mincio, down to the river Po and along this river till Venice in order to participate, as guests, in the Palio del Doge (traditional race). The entrance to the museum is free and it is possible to get the audio-guide, which is also free, in order to receive more information on the history and the use of the objects that are exposed in the museum.
The opening hours are: Saturday, Sunday and holidays: from 10 a.m. to 12.30 a.m./ from 3 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. In July and August (Saturday, Sunday and holidays): from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. / from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Close to the east shore of Lake Garda, in Villafranca di Verona, you can find the Nicolis Museum, which exhibits the story of Italian cars, technology and international mechanics. We are not talking about a traditional museum but a museum-company which, besides promoting knowledge, experimentation and innovation, is also founded on goals like growth and development. Here, through 8 main collections of vintage cars, bicycles, motorbikes, cameras, musical instruments, typewriters, small airplanes, Formula 1 steering wheels and other original items, you will embark on a journey that tells the story of transportation’s evolution and a lot more. Various exhibitions, activities and events are frequently organized at the Nicolis Museum, which also features a congress centre, a historical archive, an educational section, a vintage store and a bookshop dedicated to the automotive world. The museum is open and easily accessible to everyone from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. The full price of the ticket is €10, while the reduced price is €8. Other reductions are available for children, schools and groups. For more information it is advisable to visit the website of Museo Nicolis.