Toscolano Maderno among history, nature and the paper world.
In this article you will discover the enchanting Toscolano Maderno, a picturesque village with roman origins located in the province of Brescia. You can live a relaxing holiday under the sun or in the nature, but you can also hike in the mountains or choose different activities. I would like to suggest you three things to see in Toscolano Maderno between ruins and inland valleys such as the evocative Valle delle Cartiere.
Before starting let me give you some information about the history and the ancient buildings of this place to visit on Lake Garda.
In the 1st century after Christ, the territory was known as “Tusculanum” and the noble family “Nonii Arrii” decided to build a beautiful villa above it. Today there are only ancient ruins and mosaics: this is an important village within roman villas on lake Garda, similar to the famous “Grotte di Catullo”.
After the excavation of the villa in the 1960s, the domus was brought to light.
During your trip you can visit the roman park where there are two temples: the temple of Jupiter and the temple of Bacchus. The first one, dedicated to the God, was used as basis to realize the Sanctuary of Madonna del Benaco. The second gave the basis to build a church, initially dedicated to Saint Andrea and then to Saint Domenico; today it is a Renaissance’s church.
Within the other medieval buildings, there are the Maderno’s Romanesque church and the parish church’s bell tower, which is the last remain of an ancient castle. During the thirteenth Century it was modified in the house of the Podestà; then in the fourteenth century it was the headquarter of the municipal administration. Since then, Maderno became the capital/ administrative center of Brescia’s river until the 1645, when a fire destroyed the building.
Finally, among the ancient buildings you will find the remains of the Gonzaga palace, surrounded in the seventeenth century by a park of 70 hectares. Curious is the underground passage between the Romanesque church and the palace, used by the Gonzagas to get to a secret window in the crypt.
THREE THINGS TO SEE IN TOSCOLANO MADERNO IN A DAY TRIP
First of all, how can you reach the beautiful village of Toscolano Maderno?
If you are by car and arriving from the A4 Milan-Venice motorway, you can exit at the Brescia Est tollbooth. Then continue on the SS45bis to Lago di Garda-Salò and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake until Toscolano.
If you are coming from Bolzano and driving on the Brenner A22, take the Rovereto exit towards Riva del Garda-Gargnano. Then follow the SS45bis for about 37 km of tunnels and a road overlooking the lake, the most characteristic part of the western coast.
If, on the other hand, you arrive by train, the closest railway stations are Desenzano and Brescia. From there, ARRIVA buses leave for every town on the Brescia side of the lake.
Alternatively, I suggest you experience the thrill of a relaxing boat trip! The service is active from March till November. If you want to avoid the traffic of summer days, this is a valid alternative, especially since you arrive at your destination in a rush! In addition, you can also choose to get on board comfortably with your car by opting for the Torri del Benaco-Toscolano Maderno route.
Now let’s talk about the three things to see in Toscolano Maderno!
Here are the first of the three things to see in Toscolano Maderno.
1. Valley of the Paper Mills and Paper Museum
If you have come this far, it is worth discovering the tradition of paper production in the nearby Valle delle Cartiere. The manufacture of paper in the territory of Toscolano Maderno dates back to the late Middle Ages and was favoured by the presence of the Toscolano stream. The first document that certifies the presence of a paper mill along the Toscolano river is dated 17 October 1381.
At the end of the fifteenth century, when the demand for writing paper was added to that for printing paper, the paper mills started flourishing. Later, the uncultivated lands were reclaimed, channels were built to bring water to the paper mills and a marina to send it out of the territory. The Valle delle Cartiere is now considered an Eco Museum, a real open-air museum.
One way to get there is by taking a nice walk from the Ponte Vecchio and going up the Toscolano river. But I’ll tell you about that shortly.
The Paper Museum is a place that combines culture and nature precisely because it is immersed in the Valle delle Cartiere. If you want to experience a journey through time, this is the unique opportunity for a nice trip to one of the places to visit on Lake Garda.
Here you will discover the world of paper from its birth, when paper was handmade, to the spread of industrial paper in the last century. Do you like the idea?
Back in 1962, the Maina Inferiore paper factory in Toscolano Maderno ceased its production. The Museum today is housed right inside the old factory, which has become an important industrial archaeology site. You will feel truly involved in the history and importance of paper in life, today as in past centuries.
The museum is divided into two sections, the first dedicated to the history of paper production, and the second concerns the industrialization to the evolution of paper mill techniques.
The path inside the museum is structured with various explanatory panels as well as with video supports and historical vintage machinery. On display you can also see finds from the archaeological excavations conducted in the Valley and some watermarks produced between the 16th and 18th centuries. In addition, there is a collection of books printed by the Paganinis, illustrious printers of the first half of the sixteenth century.
Here’s where it gets interesting!
During the summer months and the high season, you can reach the museum directly from the Zanardelli lakefront thanks to the comfortable tourist train. The service is operational from April to October, with 6 departures every day except Thursday (market day) from the Town Hall Square. I advise you to check timetables and prices directly on the site.
2. The bridge of Toscolano Maderno and some curiosities
The second of the three things to see in Toscolano Maderno that I propose to you is the “Ponte Vecchio”. This bridge was built in the early sixteenth century by the Magnifica Patria, a body which had its headquarters in Salò, and which represented 42 municipalities of the western coast. It is a stone bridge that forms an arch of over twenty meters in width.
Some historical sources indicate that previously the passage of the stream took place through a ford (a wooden bridge) not far from the old bridge. From Toscolano you entered from a small road that passed through the door of the ancient paper mill. The access remained in public use until the end of the Austrian domination and served both as a crossing of the stream and for the watering of livestock.
Until 1860, at the top of the parapet there were two niches. In one of them there was a walled fragment of a rough sculpture depicting a woman with a diadem on her head. It was called by the people “Regina Cagna“, who abusing her exceptional powers, had the Venetian magistrates transferred from Maderno to Salò. The term could mean contempt for having deprived Maderno of the supremacy on the Riviera or simply recall her descent from Mastino Cane della Scala.
Haven’t I intrigued you enough? Then I’ll tell you a detail about this place to visit on Lake Garda that will surely interest you.
The ancient Romans certainly could not imagine that the two villages, Toscolano and Maderno, would later in time merge.
Yes, at the time they were territorially and culturally divided: Toscolano boasts Etruscan origins, while Maderno was born with the Romans. The first settlement seems to be the Etruscan one in the port of Toscolano, which was called just like the lake, Benaco. On June 14, 1928, the two countries merged into a single municipality, but both left their peculiarities unchanged. Maderno has become a tourist area for several years now, thanks to the morphology of its coast, while Toscolano fascinates with its history linked to the paper mill.
3. Walks and excursions on Monte Pizzocolo and Monte Castello
If you love adventure and breath-taking views, you can choose a suggestive excursion to the surrounding mountains. You can discover the last of the three things to see in Toscolano Maderno on foot or by MTB, enjoying a spectacular view over Lake Garda.
Are you ready to go on an adventure? I really hope so because it’s really worth it!
Monte Pizzocolo is 1582 meters high, reaching a relatively advanced position with respect to the Garda hinterland. It is a privileged observation point that offers a 360-degree view, embracing from Garda to the Alps, up to Monte Rosa and the Apennines. Near its summit you can find a bivouac created in a military structure of the First World War and a small chapel.
The limestone rock of which Monte Pizzocolo is formed hides numerous caves. Two of these, Giasera del Val and Giasera de Boscheta d’Archesane, are interesting because they have a constant temperature between 2 and 5 ° C.
If, on the other hand, you want to opt for another hiking peak, I recommend climbing Monte Castello di Gaino. The Monte offers a privileged panoramic position on Lake Garda and can be reached with a not particularly demanding excursion. You can start from the Valle delle Camerate, the valley that goes from above the town of Gaino between Monte Castello itself and Monte Pizzoccolo.
I hope you found my list of the three things to see in Toscolano-Maderno useful. Continue reading the next few lines to discover the main events of this place to visit on Lake Garda.
After the list of the three things to see in Toscolano Maderno, I present to you the events to enrich your visit even more.
The town of Toscolano Maderno offers its guests various events every year to have fun with simplicity and according to tradition.
There are many events related to taste and good food, but also trophies and regattas, lakeside parties and musical events.
In the summer months the calendar becomes even richer in initiatives, to delight tourists with music, dances and parties of all kinds.
If you are interested in sporting events, Gardalonga is definitely an event not to be missed. It is a rowing event that takes place in Toscolano Maderno every year in May. The competition is open to any type of rowing boat, ranging from the bisse del Garda to canoes, yolas, whalers, up to the most unusual boats. Every year many competitive and amateur athletes participate.
Another event is the Triathlon and “Volere Volare“, an acrobatic flight from Monte Pizzocolo, which is celebrated in September. If you like adrenaline sports, this is also an activity that you can choose to experience personally. Thanks to the paragliding school you can launch yourself over the lake and experience the thrill while enjoying a spectacular view.
You may also like the XGardaMan, one of the few events in the world destined to trace a new path in the history of the triple OFF ROAD discipline.
Among the recurring summer events of Toscolano Maderno there are the fireworks show and the Arte a Cecina event in August. Every year, in fact, Cecina transforms itself into a “Borgo d’Incanto” (enchanted village) with the exhibition of many street artists.
Here it is, my article ends with the hope of having aroused so much curiosity.