The beauty of Lake Garda is made up of light and Mediterranean atmospheres. The landscape is reflected in the lake with continuous variations: from mountain peaks to gentle hills, from the vast countryside to scattered villages. The natural environment accompanies the work of man in a precious unity.
From the earliest times, Lake Garda has seen the crossing of cultures and intertwined histories, as can be seen in the styles of its architecture. The grand Roman villa at Sirmione (the so-called “Grotte di Catullo”), the medieval parish churches, the castles and “recetti” of the Valtenesi (at Lonato, Moniga, Polpenazze, Padenghe, Puegnago), the Renaissance porticos overlooking the docks (in Desenzano and Gargnano), the splendid Baroque forms (Villa Bettoni in Bogliaco), and then the explosion of Eclecticism and Art Nouveau (in Maderno, Salò, Gardone Riviera). The combination of nature and architecture has been deposited in the territorial identity.
This dialogue between the geography of the lake and centuries of history can be clearly read in the language of the materials. To the north are stones and porphyry from Trentino, to the east marble from Verona and to the west marble from Brescia. Their presence characterises the construction techniques and the shape of the buildings: the result is a range of colours as if on an artist’s palette. This is the soul of Lake Garda’s “Picturesque”.
The tourist vocation of the Benaco was born together with the romantic pictorial sensibility, when light captured on canvas became a “way of life”. Luxurious hotels, large accommodation facilities and holiday homes appeared at the end of the 19th century like an impressionist punctuation mark. Marble and stone were the cadence. It is no coincidence that Gabriele D’Annunzio magnified the modernity of this season through the scenographic complex of the Vittoriale at Gardone Riviera. Here literary inspiration, theatre and architecture merged into a sort of spectacle within the framework of water and mountains.
It was at the Vittoriale that Marmi Ghirardi decided to celebrate its 80th year of foundation. A symbolic choice, given that the company’s headquarters are just a few kilometres from Lake Garda, in the last foothills of the morainic hills. The Carpenedolo brand is the exact expression of a tradition rooted in the history of the territory and projected towards the future. The quality of its products reflects craftsmanship and fidelity to the character of the materials. All its products reflect the historical heritage that has spread from the shores of Benaco to every corner of the world.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of its foundation and introduce the G1938 – Italian Stone Maestro brand, Marmi Ghirardi chose two symbolic places. The first was the company’s new headquarters, which in Carpenedolo (Brescia) contains the memory of family tradition together with the highest forms of modernity. The second was the Vittoriale in Gardone Riviera, the last home of Gabriele D’Annunzio. Here the intention was to underline Carpenedolo’s belonging to the Lake Garda area, where the morainic foothills merge with the open countryside.
To all intents and purposes, Lake Garda is the fulcrum of local geological history: a geographical dimension that preserves the fascinating succession of distant eras. The nature of its materials – stone and marble – tells of the dialogue between the primordial world and the work of man. If the Vittoriale is the expression of a vision set within poetry and nature, the activity of Marmi Ghirardi is a fusion of artistic tradition and technical innovation, of love for the material and the talent for accuracy.
In Gardone Riviera, Gabriele D’Annunzio and the architect Giancarlo Maroni created an enchanting place. Having purchased Villa Cargnacco, formerly owned by the art historian Henry Thode, the poet and man of letters from Pescara wanted to surround himself with gardens, allegorical paths, mnemonic objects and even an open-air theatre. This was the ideal setting for a celebratory party, where the evocative environment amplified the significance of the occasion. An evening dedicated to employees, suppliers and a close group of longstanding customers. The ritual greetings and a contemporary dance show took place in the Auditorium under D’Annunzio’s biplane; the banquet in the lemon groves; the musical entertainment in the gardens.
A lot of time has passed since 1938, when the company started up and gradually established itself on the market until it became an international organisation. Marmi Ghirardi’s link with the history of the Brescia area, its values and its specificity has remained intact.
The architecture of Lake Garda is changing its face. In recent years the great attraction of tourism has brought a wave of novelty to the image of buildings. While in past decades a kind of lake “picturesque” was used, today a modernist declination is gaining ground. Not only in new buildings, but also in renovations. This is the case of the Savoy Palace Hotel in Gardone Riviera, renovated according to the design of the studio of architect Perini of Desenzano.
The hotel was opened in 1906 by its owner, Jakob Schnurremberger, and enlarged in 1912 by Karl Schumacher, and was considered the most beautiful on the Riviera. The buildings, arranged in a staggered pattern with a soaring tower in the centre, were softened by eclectic and Art Nouveau elements. The street front was majestic and the view over the water almost fairytale-like. The most fashionable season began in 1923 with the presence of Gabriele D’Annunzio in Gardone; then came the ups and downs until the current management of Silvia Dalla Bona and her husband Paolo Bertuetti.
The façade facing the street has regained its monumental character with a geometry that marks the central field. On the sides, the wings are plastered. A delicate chromatic play is obtained with the insertion of stone cladding: the Pietra Dorata of the Tuscan Maremma, Biancone and Rosa Perlino of Asiago, Rosso Verona. The latter is also present in the terraces, made particularly scenic in relation to the panoramic context. In the sunny atmosphere of Lake Garda, the new texture shines like an appropriate tonal palette. A century later, the splendour of the same town and its visitors come to light again.
Marmi Ghirardi has skilfully interpreted the design requirements. It is a knowledge that derives not only from operational quality, but also from direct knowledge of the territory and its vocation. Between the memories of the past and the needs of today there is room for an unprecedented openness to the future. Architecture possesses this capacity, and it is precisely the use of stone and marble that guarantees continuity when entrusted to expert, sensitive hands.
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