Comune di Nago-Torbole

Location of Nago-Torbole in Italy

Coordinates: 45°52′N 10°53′E / 45.867°N 10.883°E / 45.867; 10.883Coordinates: 45°52′N 10°53′E / 45.867°N 10.883°E / 45.867; 10.883
Country Italy
Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Province / Metropolitan city Trentino (TN)
Frazioni Torbole, Nago, Tempesta
  Total 28.4 km2 (11.0 sq mi)
Elevation 65 m (213 ft)
Population (Dec. 2004)
  Total 2,434
  Density 86/km2 (220/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Torbolani, naghesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 38060, 38069
Dialing code 0464
Website Official website

Nago–Torbole (German: Naag-Turbel) is a comune (municipality) in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest of Trento on the north shore of Lake Garda. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 2,434 and an area of 28.4 square kilometres (11.0 sq mi).[1]

The municipality of Nago–Torbole contains the frazioni (subdivisions, mainly villages and hamlets) Torbole (Turbel), Nago (Naag), and Tempesta.

Nago–Torbole borders the following municipalities: Arco, Riva del Garda, Mori, Ledro, Brentonico, and Malcesine.


Via Segantini, a back street in Torbole.

Torbole, at 67 metres (220 ft) above sea level, is situated on the extreme north-western appendix of the Baldo chain and it is set as an amphitheatre on Lake Garda. The lake, once only valuable to fishermen and traders, is still the most precious resource together with 2,079-metre (6,821 ft) high Monte Baldo, which was once a seemingly inexhaustible mine of firewood and game though now it is a protected area for its rare flora, sometimes even endemic.


A view of Nago from Monte Brione.

Situated on the hills above Torbole sits Nago. The parish church of Nago, San Vigilio, is located on the town's main road. The present building dates from the late 16th century, but the first church probably dates from the early Christian period. It is mentioned for the first time in 1203, in a document relating to a dispute between the people of Nago and the Bishop of Trento, Conrad II de Beseno. It is called "collegiate" in the document and its importance at the time must have been considerable.


Venetian domination (1440–1510) is evident in the old harbor: a typical toll house placed on a lake-front wharf. During Austrian domination (1810–1918), tourism grew during the Belle Époque. Goethe, who stopped here in September 1786, described Torbole with enchantment and wonder. Since then the town has been known everywhere as a beloved aim for artists and painters, who have left us a large iconography of the place. Although Torbole was on the frontier, it has always kept a certain Italian atmosphere with its colored houses, large roofs that sheltered the galleries and often a typical threshing-floor in front of the houses. Torbole is typically lacustrine and mediterranean, but along some higher streets the environment becomes more alpine.

The village clings to the calcareous rocks on the extreme north-west slope of Monte Baldo; it lies close to the mouth of the river Sarca and its houses are set as an anphitheatre around the small bay, in front of Monte Rocchetta and the Ledro Alps.

15th century print of Venetian ships.
Map of the route taken by the Venetian fleet through the valley of Loppio, by the Adige River to the Lake Garda.

This area was populated in prehistoric times and colonized during the Imperial Roman times; it formed a community with Nago, castle residence of the Counts d'Arco. In 1439 Torbole witnessed an extraordinary event during the Third Lombard War (1438), between Milan and Venice. Venice dominated the eastern side of the lake (the Riviera). In order to gain supremacy on Lake Garda and help the Venetian mercenary Erasmo da Narni, called Gattamelata, in freeing Brescia from the Milanese siege. The Venetians transported twenty-five boats and six galleys from the Adriatic Sea up the River Adige until the fluvial harbour of Mori. Here the boats were hauled on carts by strength of arm and with oxen, launched then into Lake Loppio and finally lowered from the slopes of Monte Baldo into Lake Garda at Torbole. This exploit cost 240 oxen and 15,000 ducats. In April 1440 the small Venetian fleet destroyed Visconti's fleet and conquered Riva del Garda.

Lake Garda at Torbole's harbor.

Torbole, even in the 15th century, was a stop for European travelers passing through on the Atesina road from Germany to Italy. Montaigne visited Torbole in 1580. Goethe arrived here from Rovereto in the afternoon of 12 September 1786, four days after having crossed Brenner Pass. Goethe was 37 years old and getting in touch with the blue expanse of Lake Garda and the silver olive-groves, he experienced for the first time the mild climate of the places extolled by the Classics, and he believed to have achieved happiness. Even the Brescian Cesare Arici, idyllic rural poet, exalted the "fishy Torbole". The extraordinary picturesque look of the village enticed several painters from the German romantic and late romantic world. The painter Hans Lietzmann, for example, bought a large olive grove on the lake's shore (behind the Hotel Paradiso) and opened a school of nude art; many talented painters were trained at this school. The actual tourist center evolved in the second half of the last century from an old village of fishermen, farmers and mountaineers, into a seasonal health-resort for European travellers, like the neighbouring Riva and Arco.

In current times, this resort town is the capital of the Nago–Torbole district and is located around a small bay, on the lake's eastern shore. People coming from Nago, descending to the lake on a steep road with hairpin bends, can admire its beauty. The roof of the houses', gathered near to the shore, stand out from the green of the fields and create a chromatic contrast with Lake Garda's water which reflects the deep blue sky tonalities.

Saint Andrea church

It is not a waste of effort going up to the Saint Andrea church, which looks over the older part of Torbole: You would be well rewarded by the contemplation of an impressive sight and by a deeply mystic atmosphere that invites the guest to recollection and prayer. The Saint Andrea church, although quite modest, is held dear by the inhabitants of Torbole because it is a secular evidence of their history. The dedication of the apostle and fisherman Andrea indicates the ancient origins of the temple. The church was first mentioned in a document dated 1175. In 1183 the Pope Lucius III (Italian: Lucio) assigned it, together with the surrounding olive grove, to the Cistercian Abbey of Saint Lorenzo in Trento. In 1497 some of the properties of the Church were given for the support of a priest who would look after of the Torbole Community. In 1741 the curate of Torbole has been founded and in 1839 the church was officially consecrated.

The Saint Andrea church.


After being ravaged by French troops in 1703, the church was rebuilt in the Late Baroque style, but some architectural elements have been recovered. This is proven by the dates sculptured on the base of the two rocky arches of the transept. From an artistic point of view the most important work of the whole church is the altar piece in the apse. It represents the martyrdom of Saint Andrea and it is the masterpiece of the Verona artist Giambettino Cignaroli (1706–1770). All the figures of the painting, really detailed and realistic, should have been conceived taking as models some inhabitants of Torbole. A painted vertical sundial can be seen on the church's lake facing wall and on the opposite side is a small cemetery. The parish Saint Andrea church is divided into three naves and keeps a fine wooden chorus. A significant element is the 18th-century canvas made by Giambettino Cignaroli representing the Saint Andrea martyr.

Goethe's travel

In the end of the 1786 summer Goethe, starting his travel in Italy, stopped in Torbole, leaving in his writings a longing and passionate image of this place which is still the best way to promote the resort to the large number of German guests. Between the most famous Torbole's tourist attraction we have to mention the memorial tablet and the Goethe image which are on the arcade of the building where Goethe was, there is also a Goethe's bust along the lake.

Goethe tablet.

GOETHE ON LAKE GARDA ( Originally Published 1907 )

IN the autumn of the year 1786 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe made his first trip to Italy. He came over the Brenner Pass, bound for Verona, but instead of continuing all the way down the valley of the Adige, he branched off at Rovereto and came over to Lake Garda by way of the Loppio Pass. Thus he set the fashion for subsequent tourists, who in later days make this crossing by the thousands every season, generally using the convenient narrow-gauge railroad from Mori to Arco and Riva for this purpose.

Goethe apparently did not visit Riva, but lodged at the inn in Torbole. In 1899 a delegate from the Goethe Society of Vienna, accompanied by an official of the district of Riva, visited Torbole for the purpose of determining the house in which the great poet must actually have lodged. Following the indications furnished by a pencil sketch made by Goethe himself, the investigators decided that the house in question could have been none other than that of the brothers Alberti, standing on the small harbour-square of Torbole, for in Goethe's day this house was the only inn of the place and was called the "Inn to the Rose." The Goethe Society has since affixed a tablet to the house in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the poet's birth. It bears the following inscription: "In questa casa dimoro Goethe il 12 Settembre, 1786. H'eute hab ich an der Iphigenie gearbeitet, es ist im Angesichte des Sees gut von statten gegangen." ("In this house lodged Goethe on 12 September 1786. To-day I have worked on the Iphigenie, it has progressed finely in sight of the lake.") The latter sentence is taken from Goethe's diary (Tagebücher). In a letter from Rome dated the 6th of January, 1787, he likewise states: "I drew the first lines of the new work on Lake Garda, as the powerful midday wind was driving the waves to the shore, where I was at least as solitary as my heroine on the coast of Tauris." In his "Italian Journey" there are some interesting letters descriptive of his impressions and experiences on Lake Garda. It must be remembered in this connection that on this trip he was making his first personal acquaintance with Italian life and scenery.

In a letter, dated "Torbole, 12 September, after dinner," we read :

"How much I wished to have my friends for a moment near me in order that they might rejoice over the view which lies before me."

"Tonight I might have been in Verona, but there was still a glorious work of nature at my side, a precious spectacle, the Lake of Garda; I did not wish to miss it, and am gloriously rewarded for my détour. It was after five when I drove away from Roveredo (Rovereto_, up a side valley which sends its waters into the Etsch (Adige). When one reaches the top an enormous rock formation lies in front, over which it is necessary to go down to the lake. Here the most beautiful of limestone rocks exhibited them-selves for artistic studies. When one reaches the bottom, there lies a little place at the northern end of the lake, with a small harbour, or, rather, a landing-place; it is called Torbole. Fig-trees had already frequently' accompanied me on the way up, and as I descended into the amphitheatre of rock, I found the first olive-trees full of olives. Here also for the first time I found the small pale figs as a common fruit which the Countess Lanthieri had promised."

"Out of the room in which I am sitting, a door leads into the court below; I have moved my table in front of it and sketched the view in a few lines. One overlooks the lake almost for its entire extent; only at the end on the left does it escape the eye. The shore, enclosed on both sides by hills and mountains, shines with countless villages. After midnight the wind blows from north to south; whoever wishes to go down the lake must start at this time; for already a few hours before sunrise the wind changes and blows toward the north. Now in the afternoon it is blowing strongly against me and cooling the warm sun very pleasantly. At the same time Volkmann teaches me that this lake was formerly called Benacus, and invites attention to a verse of Virgil in which it is mentioned: Fluctibus et fremitu resonans Benace marino. The first Latin verse of which the subject actually stands before me! At this moment, when the wind is constantly growing stronger and the lake is dashing ever higher waves against the landing-place, this verse is to-day still as true as it was many centuries ago. Much has changed, but the wind still storms over the lake, and its sight is still ennobled by a line of Virgil."

The customs-house at the small harbour-square of Torbole.

Goethe spent the night of 12 September at Torbole, and next morning early started down the lake by boat. The description of this trip is contained in a letter dated "Malcesine, 13 September, in the evening:

"This morning early, at three o'clock, I left Torbole with the rowers. At first the wind was favourable, so that they could use the sails. The morning was glorious, though cloudy, and quiet at sunrise. We rowed past Limone, whose hill gardens, laid out in ter-races and planted with lemon-trees, presented a rich and neat appearance. The whole gar-den consists of rows of square white pillars, which stand at regular distances from each other and rise up the mountain slope in steps. Over these pillars strong beams are laid in order during the winter to cover the trees which are planted between. The observation and examination of these pleasant objects was favoured by a slow trip, and so we had already passed Malcesine when the wind turned completely around, took its ordinary direction by day and blew toward the north. Rowing was of little use against the overwhelming power, and so we had to make a landing in the harbour of Malcesine. It is the first Venetian place on the eastern side of the lake. When one has to do with water, one cannot say: ` To-day I shall be here or there.' This sojourn I shall employ as best I may, especially in making a drawing of the castle which lies near the water and is a beautiful object. To-day in passing by I made a sketch of it."

The desire to sketch the castle of Malcesine led Goethe into an amusing adventure, which he relates at some length in a letter dated from Verona on 14 September.

It appears that he was quietly sketching the ruined castle the next morning when the people of the place began to crowd around him suspiciously, and a man among them suddenly seized the sketch and tore it in two. It must be remembered that at this time the Republic of Venice was still in existence, and that Malcesine was a frontier post against Austria on the north. The Podestà (chief magistrate) of the place, with his secretary, were both summoned by the people. An amusing interrogatory took place, Goethe explaining that he was sketching the tower because it was a ruin. But, objected the Podestà, if it was a ruin, what was remarkable about it? Goethe set forth with much good humour the value which foreigners set upon ruins as objects of artistic interest. There was further discussion to and fro. Goethe was suspected of being a spy in the service of the Austrian emperor, sent to make drawings of the frontier defences of the Republic of Venice. Finally Goethe was led to declare himself a citizen of Frankfurt. At the mention of this name a young woman exclaimed that the Podestà should call a certain Gregorio, who, it appeared, had been in employment in Frankfurt. Goethe soon satisfied the authorities of Malcesine that he spoke the truth, both by his firsthand knowledge of Frankfurt itself and also by describing to Gregorio certain people in Frankfurt, notably some mutual acquaintances among the Italian families settled there. As a result, Goethe was given permission to go about at will over the whole place and visit its surroundings under Gregorio's guidance.

Goethe left Malcesine that night by boat, taking with him a basket of fine fruit from Gregorio's garden. He landed at Bardolino, a place on the eastern shore near the southern end of the lake, at 5 A. M., crossed over the mountains to Verona, and reached that city about one o'clock of the same day.

Thus Goethe's acquaintance with Lake Garda, though brief and hardly worthy of the name of sojourn, was yet full of zest, and is of special interest because it gave him his first introduction into the ways and means of Italy.

Penede castle

The ruins of Penede castle

A pleasant walk brings one to the ruins of Penede castle, which was destroyed in the eighteenth century. It had been owned by the Arco earls, by the Castelbanco's and by the Republic of Venice (Serenissima Republic).

Marmitte glacial era wells

Cliff wall of Monte Brione on road to Nago

An element which excite naturalists and geologists, can be admired at the hairpin bends of the road that brings one to Nago: the so-called Giant's pot (Italian: Marmitte dei Giganti) representing the tangible glacial era evidence of erosive phenomenon, which occurred when a wide glacier covered the territories. Those so called Marmitte are nothing else then sunken glacial era wells, set out by the stones and glacial, quick whirling, detritus coming down from the superior layers.


Sentiero Busatte path above Torbole.
Nago-Torbole From the hills above looking south.
Torbole with the River Sarca in the foreground.

All along the promenade of Torbole there is a pavement, 2 km (1 mi) long: At its ends there are the well-equipped public beaches: Conca d’oro, Parco Pavese and Villa Cian.

This ancient Roman road was the line of communication between the lake and Adige Valley. You can reach Nago from the center of Torbole skirting the spur of Penede Castle through a very charming environment of olive trees, vineyards and overhanging rocks.

It’s a marvellous rocky landscape that lies over Torbole; now covered by evergreens but once bare ruin of sliding rocks. From here you can easily reach Nago by the Tenin road.

Starting from Nago many signs follow one another which will lead you to the ruins of the Castle. A fixed course through the ruins of the manor will take you back to Nago.

They are characteristic well-preserved erosions and also one of the most interesting and rare testimonies of the Ice Age in the Alpine region.

Place with an extraordinary view where the tradition says that a tower of the ancient Castle of Torbole rose. From there you can carry on towards Nago following the old road at present very little used.

It starts from the Bridge on Sarca River and goes to Arco skirting the principal affluent that flows into lake Garda.

Gastronomic tradition

meat and beans
Carne Salada and beans

THE LOCAL GASTRONOMIC TRADITION is based on some typical elements of the Trentino simple plain fare such as polenta and game. The closeness of the lake though has enriched the tables of Torbole and Nago with really tasty fishes, such as the trout, the pike, the perch, the coregonus and many others. Moreover, the mild climate has favoured the cultivation of olive trees (probably the most northern of Italy) that produce a really pure oil, aromatic but delicate to the food it goes with. What about the so tasty fruit? The figs, that even Goethe appreciated so much, the plums, the peaches, the apples... All this fruit has grown in the best way in the Alto Garda microclimate and has acquired a really particular, even unique flavor.[2]

Torbole cauliflower
Il Broccolo di Torbole

Consider the well known broccoli di Torbole (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis). This variety of cauliflower or broccoflower was imported from Verona around the middle of the eighteenth century. The countryside of Torbole and Santa Massenza proved to be an ideal habitat that is unmatched in the rest of the Trentino region. Inside the large cabbage family, broccoli di Torbole has become separate variety in its cultivar group because over time it lost some of its characteristics and it acquired improved and refined flavor. After its seedling stage, it grows rapidly and without special care, but needs to be watered frequently. Maturation begins at the beginning of November and ends in April. It has a small estimated harvest of 30,000 heads per year.[3]

TYPICAL RECIPES: Bigoi co le aole (a lacustral fish) "spaghetti with sardelle" (anchovies), the Zisam (aole-fish with onions) and the Peverada with luganeghe (a typical sausage) and polenta. A classic main course is carne salada e fasoi (a particular kind of meat served with beans). As a dessert a fregoloti cake made of almonds. Among gastronomic traditions we remind you of the sbigolada, a country fair with free bigoi and aole. It takes place both in Torbole as in Nago before Lent.

polenta with sausage and mushrooms
Polenta with sausage and mushrooms

This to introduce the delicious opportunity Garda Trentino visitors have of discovering the characteristics of the local cuisine linked to the typical products, to which are added the influences of the various surrounding regions and the historical tradition. Even the name of the area, "Garda Trentino", indicates how the local gastronomy is capable of alternating lacustrine flavors with the traditional dishes of the mountain communities. Next to the influence of recipes coming from the Lake Garda area and the Po valley, there is also the strong presence of Tyrolean traditions coming from the link with the Danubian monarchy that ruled in this area until 1918, in addition to a few traces of Bohemian and Moravian tastes due to the exodus of so many Trentino citizens to those regions during the First World War.

All of these components, blended with the passionate will of the chefs, have given rise to a type of cuisine with its own precise features, coherent with its origins but at the same time modern and varied, fully capable of satisfying even the most demanding palates. It is both healthy, thanks to the ingredients used, and dietetic, thanks to the light and highly digestible delicacies it employs. In short, a refined art, capable of proposing ancient as well as new tastes.


We have to mention, at last, Torbole for its importance for sailing sports: it is because of the good and constant blowing of the winds on this portion of the lake.

The secrets of Alto Garda Trentino are kept by the winds that during every season unfurl a multitude of coloured sails. Winds with which men have been working and amusing themselves for ages.

It’s the most constant and famous wind. It blows on Torbole with a speed of 10–12 metres per second, starting during the first hours of the afternoon and lasting until the evening. It reaches Torbole from the south, after running through the whole length of the lake and here it causes a remarkable wave motion.

Also this one is a permanent and constant wind but it blows from the north during the whole night and in the morning. It doesn’t cause billows in Torbole.

It is often bound to sudden, violent stormy phenomena. It originates from the Ledro Valley and literally crashes on the Monte Baldo slope.

It comes downhill from Monte Ballino mostly during the winter and then it skirts the Western coast of the lake with a sometimes high vehemence.

Torbole sailing Club

The Torbole sailing Club was born in 1964 and it now counts 300 members. It is one of the most important and famous clubs both in Italy as in Europe. All its regattas are considered international because of the constant participation of Olympic champions and complete national teams. The secrets of such a success are certainly to be searched for in Torbole, with its constant winds and its enviable position, but above all in an organization that, according to what everybody says, is always flawless. Tel 505600 Fax 506076

Torbole Windsurfing Club

The Torbole Windsurfing Club was born in 1979 and it now counts 250 members, among which champions as Cantagalli, Comerlati, Moretti, Sensini. It is seated in the villa on the central beach of Torbole. The Club really helps the worldwide fame of windsurfing on Lake Garda with a calendar full of national and international competitions (such as the Professional Worldcup in 1988, 1992 and 2006).The Torbole Windsurfing Club is a usual meeting place for Italian and European champions and it is probably the most well known among the lacustral Clubs.

Demographic evolution


Panoramic view of Torbole.
Panoramic view from Monte Baldo of Lake Garda and Torbole to the far right.
Panoramic view of Torbole view from Quartiere Europa.
Panoramic view of Torbole view from Malga Casina.
View of Torbole & Lake Garda from the southwest.
19th century image of Nago.
View of Torbole from the lakefront promenade.


  1. All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.
  2. "Broccolo di Torbole". Palazzo Roccabruna. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  3. "Broccolo di Torbole". 5 Esimple Ltd. Retrieved 2015-04-06.

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