I presume you never heard of Castellaro Lagusello. Neither did I until a few months ago. I was planning a trip near Lake Garda and I started gathering information about some nearby trips. I have a thing for little villages. Maybe because I live in a quite big (for Italy) city, and in a rather chaotic zone.
Castellaro Lagusello is a tiny burg in the province of Mantua. It lies on a small hill overlooking a lake (hence Lagusello). They say the lake has the shape of an heart. But I see a little Australia, actually. See for yourselves at the bottom of the post (I attached the map) and then tell me!
The Castle and its walls date back to XII century, built by order of the Scaligeri dynasty of Verona as a strategic bastion. Due to this important position, Castellaro Lagusello ended up being disputed and then possessed by Milan, Mantua and Venice.
In 1600 Castellaro lost its defence purpose and was sold for 545 ducats by the Serenissima to Count Arrighi, who transformed it in a private estate.
The ancient walls are almost intact, apart from the towers: only 4 out of the original 10 are still standing.
We parked the car in a gravelly lot, following the P sign. Then we followed the other people towards the centre. The entrance is from the clock tower (open by appointment), once equipped with a drawbridge (until 1700). On the left stands the baroque church of San Nicola. It was Sunday and there was a Mass going on so we skipped the visit.
We wandered here and there taking pictures and feeling as if we were lost in an ancient past: river stones pavement, ancient stone houses, well maintained gardens. I found this village fascinating. Maybe it could be better promoted, organizing events or something.
You have to keep in mind that:
- we often travel off-season
- we also have the peculiarity of arriving always at noon everywhere (I don’t know why, even when we wake up early!)
- I try to take pictures without people, if possible
So, OK, we visit small villages that are per se quite calm. Plus, at noon and off-season it always seems that we are the lonely visitors.
On the side of a house there were many bonsai trees connected to wires and guarded by a camera. My God! Do people actually steal bonsai? What a world we live in!
We arrived at a small piazzetta with the overlooking Villa Arrighi (open by appointment) and the little church of San Giuseppe. There you will see another tower. Past it you will reach the shores of the lake and you will have a great view of the entire burg. But be aware that, in order to past the door, you have to pay €2. It is not a large amount of money. Nevertheless, I am doubtful about it. Should you pay it or not? It’s up to you. I paid in order to take a picture and being able to show it to you. It is a great view.
As for the lake you can’t go near the shore anyway, because it is surrounded by bushes. But it is a quick visit. Just a few steps and you reach the panoramic point. Was it worth it? For me it was: for the blog and plus I thought I was helping the municipality to preserve this cute burg. But maybe 1€ would be better.
We had not the chance to have lunch here, but there were many trattorie. And you have to know that the Mantuan cuisine is extraordinary. So if you have the time you must stop and try the local dish: capunsei [kah -poon -SEH -ee], some of small gnocchi made with flour, breadcrumbs and parmesan boiled in broth.
Leaving Castellaro we noticed nearby a sign indicating a Tamburello sports club. I was puzzled, cause tamburello means tambourine. Matteo explained to me that it is also a sport, dating back to X century and very popular in this area. It is similar to Rackets, but the device used to play is similar to a tambourine (that’s why!). I honestly never heard before about it. How peculiar!
In conclusion, if you do not book the visit to the villa or to the clock tower, the passeggiata (stroll) around and about Castellaro Lagusello will be really short. It will require less than an hour. So it is perfect to combine it with a visit to Borghetto sul Mincio and a slow food lunch to enjoy a quiet and relaxing day, or with a visit to other villages of Lake Garda, such as Bardolino or Lazise.