Liberty villas on Lake Garda
Pieces of history and culture ... even for sale
Passionate about Tiffany glass? Turn-of-the-century turret houses? Wrought iron gates and banisters with flower and animal decoration? Light? If yes, you surely love Art Nouveau houses.
Brussels has thousands: four townhouses by architect Victor Horta are actually on the UNESCO World Heritage list, but do you know about the treasure trove that dot Lake Garda shores?
An Art Nouveau tour here is a great experience: with many architecture gems to discover, which stretch from Salo along Gardone Riviera, past Gargnano and up to Riva.
On Lake Garda you can find Liberty villa for sale ranging from late 1800s until World War I, sought after not just because they’re solidly built and well-structured, but also because they’re enchanting, with their timeless charm.
This was a glorious age, with everything glamorous and stylish. The “Belle Époque” era at the end of the 19th century and just before World War I. It’s name Art Nouveau (“New Art") was coined in Belgium. In Italy’s it’s called “Liberty”, after the London department store of Arthur Liberty, who sold art objects and fabrics in this design. Its style is reminiscent of the "Arts and Crafts Movement" and its roots lie in the rise of the industrial bourgeoisie.
Gardone Riviera, which took off in the late 1800s. There’s the fabulous Grand Hotel Fasano boasting many typical Art Nouveau features including flowing decoration with echoes of nature, trees and flowers, palm leaves, sunflowers and poppy seeds You can feel the “Belle Époque” here.
Some mansions along Lake Garda are waiting for restoration, and others have been lovingly restored.
One beautifully restored is on the Maderno Lungo Lago: look carefully and you see many gorgeous "flamboyant Art Nouveau" design features. There are the Art Nouveau females in bright colours with lashings of gold, round turrets, and the look of a Klimt painting.
At Navazzo di Gargnano, Villa Sostaga is on top of a hill surrounded by a forest. It dates back to the end of the 1800s when Count Giuseppe Feltrinelli built it as a hunting lodge. Other Feltrinelli family buildings in Gargnano reflect the best of Liberty style. You can see how it fuses the new industrial materials such as cast-iron pillars and stained glass with traditional organic and botanical forms.
Some villas on Lake Garda show the height of Liberty (twisted metalwork, sinuous decoration, curvy lines, floral embellishments and stained glass) and as it grew, expanding his repertoire with algae, grasses, insects and oriental images, especially Japanese prints, which were an important source of inspiration.