CAMPIONE SUL GARDA,

history and a walk

 

A story by Ghita Beltrami

 

When I talked to Milena today, I discovered that her father Mario was originally from the nearby town of Campione. He moved to Limone and in 1959 built the HOTEL RIVIERA after he had been working for 10 years in Switzerland (Zürich) where he had met Laura, his wife, who had been working in Zürich in a Hotel belonging the Frauenverein organization. They decided to build their small hotel which was also supposed to be their home and settle their family in Limone.

Today is the 12th of August and in Campione there are the celebrations for their patron saint Ercolano. I decided to go, it is just 5 km, so only 10 minutes drive. I found a bar on the lake shore and a little book that told the story of this amazing town. What one strikes immediately arriving in Campione is its imposing rock that almost looks like a sentinel. The wind here is also strong  and on the lake there are hundreds of kites flying madly on the surface of the water. I found this booklet that told  the history of this town:  Ercolano, Bishop of Brescia, in the VIth century lived in an inaccessible grotto above the lake to allow him to meditate and pray. At one time Campione had a paper factory, mills and forges. It became famous for its ironmongery, thanks to the abundant waters of the Tignalga river; being within the domain of the Republic of Venice and the influence of the Archetti’s, northern Italy’s richest merchant family and owners of ironworks in the Brescia and Trentino areas and who built the forges of Campione. Among the Archetti’s guests in Campione were Francis Ferdinand, son of Maria Teresia of Austria, when he cruised around Lake Garda in 1777, and in 1780 the Doge Paolo Renier. At the end of the 19th century, after a flood that destroyed the whole village, new life was breathed into Campione. Shortly after 1890 the Feltrinelli’s of Gargnano bought the whole of the promontory and in 1896 built the cotton factory. It was also established that the waters of the Tignalga were a force that could be harnessed and be used. The hydraulic engineering was above all the work of Vittorio Olcese. After the closure of the cotton factory in 1981, brought about by the economic crisis of the 70’s, the area became the property of Coopsette in 2002 in order to concentrate on the tourist trade.

Today the town is a bit noisy and with this wind it made me a little edgy, so  I decided to leave the bar and to go up the mountain.  The bar tender explained me that there is a staircase that leads up and an interesting tunnel links this façade of the mountain with the inner cleft that contains a dike. Well, let’s go and have a look ! I crossed the square and just on the right hand side I immediately noticed the first step going up a field, I follow the path and after a little bridge the stairs really climb up towards to top of the rock. I was getting curious so I speeded up and  reached the tunnel which is almost 30 meters long. On the other side what surprised me is the lower temperature, which on hot summer days can be refreshing. The scenery here is spectacular. We are in a canyon in the heart of the SAN MICHELE river. A river made of waterfalls and very popular for CANYONING (see the voice sport). I walk along the footbridge above the dike until I reach a bridge that leads me onto the other side of the cleft. From this point on there is a path that leads toward Tremosine through the pathway N. 267. The walk leads towards the mountain through an ancient stone staircase which offers  a beautiful view over the lake. The path reaches some olive fields but before entering the town of PREGASIO there is a pathway leading towards the right,  N. 202 that brings you towards PIEVE, this is a panoramic path that through the town of ARIAS leads down to the SAN GIOVANNI Church and the cemetery. Do visit  the Church and read, on this website, the history of the church in the section TREMOSINE. At this point it is worth to take a break at the bar which is underneath in the historic Centre of Pieve which is the main town of the parish Tremosine itself. In the bar I found an amazing book published by Tremosine city council ‘LA STRADA A PICCO SUL LAGO’ which I know already will inspire another story. Checking the time I realized that I needed to go back! Gosh…..how ?  At this point going back the same way  might take ages,  at this point one can see Campione underneath and it seems almost nearer. I ask the bar’s owner and she suggests: ‘well you are lucky the path that leads you down is just outside here under our terrace, and is the Num.  203!!! Well I am really lucky, so I start going down this wonderful path - almost rolling down – and at a certain point the path leads to the ancient road that once went from Campione directly to Pieve, a charming path that gives one an amazing view and I remembered the book I saw in the bar, yes this must be the road opened in 1913!! This road brings you straight to the old Gardesana road that leads to Campione! Here I am now in only one hour’s walk from Pieve back to the place where I started. I think on the whole it took me 3 hours, but I am slow, lazy and a romantic explorer of landscape!

 

DEUTSCH

ITALIANO

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