The Limonaie

What are those high pillars that reach towards the sky, all in a row, enclosed on three sides by white stone walls? Lake Garda, in particular along the shores at Gargnano, can still today offer visitors examples of architectural structures that can be seen nowhere else, tangible witnesses of an era and a civilisation. Limonaie are greenhouses for growing lemon trees, and for centuries they were central to Gargnano's economy and its appearance, built to make citrus cultivation possible at these latitudes (the furthest north in the world). In 1840 Gargnano saw the establishment of the Società Lago di Garda, Italys first agricultural cooperative, organised to harvest, grade and market this valuable product. Citrus cultivation reached its peak in 1850-1855 when Gargnano was home to around half the lemon greenhouses along the entire length of the lake. The decline of the trees due to the disease gummosis, competition from southern Italy following the unification of the Kingdom of Italy, and above all the discovery of the chemical synthesis of citric acid, gradually led growers to abandon this activity. In the chapter The Lemon Gardens, in his book Twilight in Italy, D. H. Lawrence, an attentive observer and narrator of Gargnanos traditions, writes: ... All summer long, upon the mountain slopes steep by the lake, stand the rows of naked pillars rising out of the green foliage like ruins of temples: white, square pillars of masonry, standing forlorn in their colonnades and squares, rising up the mountains-sides here and there, as if they remained from some great race that had once worshipped here. And still, in the winter, some are seen standing away in lonely places where the sun streams full, grey rows of pillars rising out of a broken wall, tier above tier, naked to the sky, forsaken ...

Associazione Turistica Gargnano Piazzale Boldini, 2 - 25084 - GARGNANO (BS)- Lake Garda
Tel / Fax 0039 0365.791243 - P.I. 03321420980