The municipality is spread out over a hilly area sandwiched between the lake and the morainic hills that separate it from the Adige Valley, and its hallmark feature are the excellent vineyards; indeed, Bardolino has given its name to one of Italy’s best-known wines.
The main source of income for the village, however, is tourism: thanks to its mild climate and beautiful hillside landscape, Bardolino has been of great importance since Roman times, and is now one of Italy’s leading holiday resorts with campsites and villages with a breathtaking view.
The large beaches, the sports that can be practised on the lake and the entertainment facilities in the area provide an excellent complement to the rich historical and cultural heritage of the village, which originated – like others in the eastern Garda area – from the pile-dwelling civilisation.
The name “Bardolino“ is probably of Germanic origin, and numerous findings have been unearthed in the area testifying to life here in Roman times, including coins, boundary stones, tombstones, sculptures, burial objects and wall structures. We should not forget that the Romans were particularly fond of the Garda area; the most striking evidence of this is the Thermal Spa of Catullus in Sirmione.
Following the period spent under Roman rule, Bardolino was subjected to Barbarian invasions on the part of the Longobards, Goths, Visigoths and Franks, and between 829 and 856 it was the scene of fierce battles between the inhabitants of the BENACO area and those of VERONA.
Castles and strongholds were built to repel the invaders and defend the area, and the first castle in Bardolino was built in the 9th century.
This castle was subsequently rebuilt and extended on several occasions up to the time of the Della Scala family. The construction features square walls that open out towards the lake, with four towers at the four sides, and two Gates (Porta San Giovanni, in the direction of Lake Garda and Porta Verona, to the south).
Sources from as early as 1100 refer to an independent Municipality of Bardolino, which then came under the control of the Visconti and thereafter of the Republic of Venice. In 1526, Bardolino was sacked by the Lanzichenecchi, and in 1798 it came under the dominion of the Austrian Empire, where it remained until 1866, when it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Visitors to Bardolino must not miss: the church of San Zeno, an example of Carolingian architecture in Italy with features similar to those of the Museum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna; the church of San Severo, mentioned in a Longobard document from 893 and extended in the 11th century and in the early 12th century before being brought back to its original shape in 1927, and the Neo-classical parish church of San Nicolò, the patron saint of the village and protector of sailors.