Olive tree groves and the majestic Mount Baldo ridge are to the east.
The dynamic and vigorous Lake Garda with its beaches is to the west. And the mountains are there, on the horizon.
In the middle, there’s a little hamlet, nestled between water and mountain, gathered around the Scaliger castle. The castle, with its high tower, overlooks the whole town from a rock spur.
Gustav Klimt, a Art Nouveau exponent from Vienna, painted both Malcesine and Cassone.
Goethe wrote about it on its “Italian Journey” and painted some drawings which are now housed in the Museo del Castello.
The old town centre is a net of steep cobbled streets filled with shops, with glimpses of old buildings, alleys and nature surrounding the town.
Walking towards the lake, the port, the old port and the Palazzo dei Capitani are definitely worth a visit.
Leaving the old town centre while walking on the lake front or on the cycle path, you’ll end up taking pictures of the town with the mountains and the lake: a picture postcard of the beautiful Malcesine which is always breathtaking.
If you need to relax, you can sunbathe in one of the many beaches where playing with a ball or diving in the fresh water of lake Garda is also possible.
Not far from the downtown is the Malcesine Monte Baldo Cableway leading you on top of Mount Baldo with its rotating cabins, reaching an altitude of 1780 m in Tratto Spino.
If you are athletic, it may be interesting to know that the first paths start from the town itself.
Fraglia Vela Malcesine, with its national and international regattas, its world and european championships, is the the pride and joy of the town. Fraglia is a stop-over for the Olympic training of the best yachtsmen in the world as well as a training base for the Italian National Paralympic Team.
History of Malcesine
According to the first historical data, the earliest evidence of human settlements goes back to 500 B.C.; they mainly refer to people of Etruscan origin or other stationary or semi-nomadic civilizations which were later incorporated to the Roman dominion.
Built by Longobards on the ruins of previous fortifications, the Castle dates back to 500 A.D.
When the Franks defeated the Longobardic armies in 509 A.D., the castle was partly destroyed and then rebuilt.
Alberto della Scala, lord of Verona, modified the Statutes of Verona in 1277. This documents established that any castle or fortress belonging to the town territory had to be regulated by the central power. An exception was made for the castle of Malcesine and six other buildings which were confiscated and put under the direct control of the lord.
The new lords modified the old building and since then, the castle was named “Scaligero” (Scaliger, from della Scala).
Charles IV, king of Bohemia, granted Mastino II della Scala the captaincy on the Lake and the right to appoint or remove protectors and officials in 1351. This marked the beginning of Garda Federation and the Lake Captaincy (Gardesana dell’Acqua) which lasted till the Italian Republic was constituted (1802).
Gardesana dell’Acqua was a federation of 10 municipalities endowed with wide authonomy. It was made up of three colonelcy: the upper one included Malcesine, Brenzone and Pai; the middle one Torri, Albisano, Garda and Costermano while the lower covered the territory of Bardolino, Cisano and Lazise. They elected 18 councilors (three of them living in Malcesine) and a mayor, usually residing in Torri, where the assemblies chaired by the Lake Captain were held.
The Captain had the duty of defending and monitoring the federal territory as well as carring out ordinary tasks of law and order.
The Captain lived in Malcesine, the closest town to the border, and in order to give him a suitable location, in 1618 the Municipality of Verona acquired the Scaliger “casamentum” building which is now called Palazzo dei Capitani.
The thriving development of the federation did not affected the different municipalities. As a result, the municipality of Malcesine kept its own rights, among whom the most relevant was the establishment of three councils: “consiglio Piccolo” dealing with standard tasks, “consiglio Grande” handling essential issues and “consiglio Maggiore”, whose members were the head of the families, taking care of extraordinary questions.
The Gardesana dell’Acqua, in its 450 years of existence, has been the scene of many battles: the best known was the one between Venice and the House of Visconti of Milan during which some Venetian galleys were carried from the river Adige into Lake Garda.
The House of Visconti supplanted the House of Scaliger in 1387. Then, in 1405 it was the Doge of Venice’s turn to succeed.
When the League of Cambrai attacked Venice, Malcesine went under the emperor Maximilian I dominion from 1508 to 1516. Then, the Venetian power was restored again.
When Napoleon declared war on Austria in 1796 to gain control over Lombardy and the rest of Northern Italy, many French and Austrian troops were sent to Malcesine. But, even if the neutral control of Venice no longer existed, the administrative structure of both the Municipality and the Gardesana dell’Acqua remained unaltered during the French domination and later on, under the Austrian authority which started in 1798.
On February 18, 1801, following the Treaty of Luneville, the Cisalpine Republic annexed Malcesine.
When the Italian Napoleonic Republic was founded in 1802, the federation, the captaincy and the Consiglio maggiore where all suppressed and replaced by town councils.
With Napoleon’s fall, Malcesine was annexed to the Kindom of Lombardy and Venetia.
Malcesine parlty experienced the hardships related to the Italian Unification. The town suffered the Piedmontese occupation for a short period following the Battle of Goito in 1848, and then, it went under the Austrian dominion until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
The Scaliger Castle
The fortress of Malcesine dates back to the last centuries of the first millenium B.C. even if some other well-founded sources maintain that the first to build the castle were the Longobards around the half of the first millenium A.D.
The castle was destroyed by the Franks in 590 A.D. and then rebuilt. In 806 the building hosted king Pepin, who came to Malcesine to visit the Saints Benigno and Caro and, after the Hungarians invasions, it was included in the episcopal feud of Verona.
It was under Alberto della Scala’s and his family’s control from 1277 to 1387.
During this period the Scaliger renovated the fortress which started to be referred to as “Scaliger castle” and it was occupied by the House of Visconti from 1387 to 1403.
Two years later, it was incorporated into the dominion of the Republic of Venice and remained under its control until 1506 when it was conquered by the Empire. The castle changed hands several times: it was owned by the Republic of Venice once again from 1516 to 1797, then by the French, followed by the Austrians which accomplished significant strengthening works inside the building and remained here from 1798 to 1866.
From that year on, it became a Venetian’s ownership.
On 22 August 1902 the castle was declared a national monument.
The Captain’s Palace
The Palace was built by the Scaliger between the XIII and the XIV century over Roman and Romanesque ruins. After being damaged, probably by an earthquake or a fire, it became the property of Francesco Mercanti from Verona. On 18th December 1473 his sons sold it to Alessandro Miniscalchi. The bill of sale, dating back to 1477, reveals that the building was already been reconstructed with a Venetian style and sumptuously decorated.
In 1618 the town of Verona, at the request of the Republic of Venice, bought the Palace which became the residence of the Capitain of the Lake. In that period, many refurbishment works were carried out.
On 20th March 1854 the Town of Verona rent it to the Town of Malcesine which became the only owner in 1897.
The Palace was declared National Monument in 1902.
Monte Baldo cable car
Malcesine Mount Baldo cable car is open for 10 months a year and it brings you from Malcesine to Tratto Spino, on Mount Baldo at 1760 m of altitude, in just 15 minutes.
The cable car is quite renowned and appealing because in the second section the cabin rotates on itself while ascending, offering passengers a 360 degrees view. It’s a perspective otherwise inaccessible: you could see the lake, the hills and the mountains all at once.
The cable car comprises three stations.
The ground station is situated in via Navene Vecchia in Malcesine, the mid-station is in San Michele at 580 m of altitude and the Upper station is in Tratto Spino, on Mount Baldo a 1760 m of altitude.
The cable car starts operating at 8 a.m. from Malcesine and then there’s a run any 30 minutes. The numbers of runs increases with the number of visitors.
The time of the last ride downhill depends on the season.
Once you get on top of Monte Baldo you could take an easy walk, enjoy the nice view or try one of the many typical dishes served in the mountain huts or in the restaurants next to the station.
If you are athletic you will not be disappointed by Mount Baldo path network.
Not far from the uphill station, there’s the paragliding launch site.
Getting married in Malcesine
Malcesine has specialized for many years in civil wedding ceremonies held in the prestigious Scaliger Castle.
There are two ceremony rooms available in the Castle: the Casermetta and the Labia Hall. Or, if you want to hold your ceremony outdoor, you can get married on a terrace (Rivellino) located under the tower with a breathtaking view over the lake, the mountains and the town of Malcesine.
Your ceremony can be personalized according to your tastes and enriched with music (a cd player is available),live music, readings and everything you need to make your day perfect.
The room and the space designed for the ceremony can be adorned with flowers or other decorations with prior agreement with the personnel of the Town Hall.
Other services can be arranged with the same fares and conditions, such as symbolic, renewal of vows services or ceremonies without civil value.
The ceremonies are held at : 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. Services are never celebrated simultaneously.
It is situated on the edge of the castle, the hall is inside the former “Casermetta” building and has a nice view over Lake Garda. The room seats up to 40/50 people and potentially, there’s standing room for about 20/25 people.
The Labia hall is located under the tower of the Castle and seats up to 70/75 people.
Rivellino is a wonderful terrace with a large view over our beautiful environment.
Getting married at Captain’s Palace in Malcesine
You can also arrange your wedding ceremony at Captain’s Palace, an old historical building. The wedding hall, facing the lake, is situated on the first floor and seats up to 99 people.