THE LEMON GARDENS
1000 years in LIMONE SUL GARDA
It is said that the lemon first arrived in Europe through the Arabs around the year 1000. The citrus fruits arrive on the lake thanks to the Franciscan monks who arrive in Gargnano in the XIIIth century. The cultivation itself reaches its peak in the XVIII° century but it was well widespread already in the XVII° century. A picture of 1658 illustrating Saint Antony from Padua that is located in the main S. Benedict Church in Limone, has as background to the saint Limone’s unmistakable landscape with its scattered pillars of the lemon groves. Around the middle of the XVII° century
Limone’s fortunes in the lemon production are strictly linked with the aristocratic Bettoni family from Brescia who had many properties between Gargnano and Limone and the beautiful summer residence, the BETTONI PALACE, which one can visit in the summer only during the International Chamber Music Festival organised by Limes Association (inquiries to Milena Rodella). The Bettoni family built several lemon groves in Limone and had as main residence the Garbera Villa which is still to be seen with the nightly illuminated garden at the end of the promenade in the city centre. Limone had so many pillars that on the 13th of September when J.W. Goethe passed Limone by boat and saw the coastal landscape from the lake , commented :
“Evening of September 13.
At 3 o'clock this morning I started from Torbole, with a
couple of rowers. At first the wind was so favorable that we
put up a sail. The morning was cloudy but fine, and perfectly
calm at day-break. We passed Limone, the mountain-gar-
dens of which, laid out terrace-fashion, and planted with
citron-trees, have a neat and rich appearance. The whole
garden consists of rows of square white pillars placed at some
distance from each other, and rising up the mountain in steps.
On these pillars strong beams are laid, that the trees planted
between them may be sheltered in the winter. The view
of these pleasant objects was favoured by a slow passage,
and we had already passed Malcesine when the wind suddenly changed, took the direction usual in the day-time, and blew towards the north. Rowing was of little use against this superior power, and, therefore, we were forced to land in
the harbour of Malcesine.”
The Garda Riviera at its 46° latitude, is the only area as far north that cultivates citrus fruit, due not only to its mild climate, but also thanks to the construction of the lemon gardens that made large scale production possible.