Garda Island is a site of rare beauty, a picturesque rock inhabited by ancient populations, then home to St. Frances, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bernardino of Siena and, probably, Dante Alighieri.
The twentieth century palace in Neo-Gothic-Venetian style is at the southern end. Below it terraces and Italian style gardens stretch down to the lake.
Already inhabited in Roman times, the island became a hunting reserve until 879. It then became part of Carlomanno's dominion who subsequently presented it to monks. In 1221 St. Francesco d'Assisi built a simple hermitage on the rocks. The Francescan Francesco Licheto held public lessons on philosophy and theology here. After his death the hermitage began to deteriorate and in 1803 the religious order was suppressed. The island became State property then passed from hand to hand until it was converted to a military outpost in 1860.
At the end of the century it became the property of Duke De Ferrari of Genoa, who entrusted the construction of the splendid villa to the architect Luigi Rovelli. The Duke's daughter, Anna Maria, wife of Prince Scipione Borghese, enriched the garden with flowers and exotic species. After her, their daughter Livia, married to Count Alessandro Cavazza, looked after this paradise for more than fifty years. Inherited by her son Camillo, the island is now looked after by his wife, Charlotte Chetwynd Talbot, and their seven children: Sigmar, Livia, Eric, Ilona, Alberta, Christian and Lars Patrick.
Apart from the villa, full of surprising architectural details, Garda Island owes its incomparable fascination to the magnificent Italian style gardens and the luxurious intact planting, full of local and exotic species, rare plants and unique flowers.