Located on the eastern shore of the lake the town of Grada has elegant Venetian-style buildings and some of the most extensive beaches of the Riviera of Olives which make charming resort area.
The Gulf is closed to the north by Mount Luppia, that dips into the lake and forms the enchanting Punta San Vigilio and to the south by the Rocca hill, which can be reached by taking an arduous path that is characterized by the flora of the Mediterranean. In medieval times, the castle of Garda stood on the Rocca, this was a very important castle, so much so that the ancient Latin name of the lake "Benacus" was changed to Lake Garda.
An easy path of about three kilometres leads to the romantic cliff of Punta San Vigilio, an oasis of peace and poetry that has inspired prestigious guests.
The alleys in the center of Garda, once inhabited by fishermen, now house elegant shops and cosy restaurants that prepare fresh water fish, the main ingredient of the local cuisine. The many hotels, residential hotels and a modern congress building make this a popular resort for tourists.
This area offers many different activities that can make for an active vacation, including sports, walks and interesting cultural activities. Even the traditional festivals affirm the deep ties that this area has with fishing. The "Palio delle Contrade" is a picturesque regatta of traditional rowing boats held in Mid-August, while the Sardellata al Pal del Vò, held in July, is an evening of fishing for sardines followed by a dinner on a boat in the middle of the lake.
In prehistory man lived here in stilt houses, and remains were found near the Rocca, and later archeological findings of the Bronze Age are abundant in the area called Sabbionara; also graffiti were discovered in Mount Luppia, which go back to at least 2000 BC.
In Roman times Garda was probably a castrum, as shown by the regular street plan with one main street connecting the entrance and exit doors, and all the other alleys following a perpendicular pattern.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the place became a strategic stronghold as shown also by its name, which is of Germanic origin and means fortress, which was extended to the whole lake replacing the Latin name of Benacus Lacus. In the year 888 AD the Rocca was the prison of queen Adelaide of Borgogna, who was helped to escape by a local friar. In 1162 the fortress was able to stop the army of Emperor Frederick Redbeard for over a year.
In the following centuries it was a theater of civil strife as Verona and other Italian cities, until in 1277 it came under the control of the Scaligeri family. In 1387 passed under the Visconti of Milan and in 1405 was conquered by the Venetian Republic, which established a confederation among the 10 towns of the eastern shore of Lake Garda, under the name of "Gardesana dell'Acqua", ruled by a magistrate called "Capitano del lago".
In 1452, the "Corporazione degli Antichi Originari" was established, which bought the exclusive right for the fishermen of Garda, Torri and Sirmione to fish in the lake, a right which is still preserved today, since the descendants of the fishermen auction the fishing rights every year, sharing the revenue with the members of the corporation.
In 1797 with the Napoleonic invasion the Venetian rule ended; in 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned the area to the Regno Lombardo Veneto, a kingdom ruled by a viceroy appointed by the Austrian monarchy.
The Italian Risorgimento was very strong in this part of Italy, and in 1848 the king of Sardinia Carlo Alberto Savoy met at the villa Albertini, in Garda, the representatives of the towns requesting inclusion in the Kingdom of Piedmont. Only in 1866, however, Garda became part of Italy.