The discovery in the area of several tombs with terra-cotta objects and bronze coins from the 3rd and 4th century AD confirms the ancient origins of Malcesine. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the eastern shore of the lake garda also suffered frequent invasions. In 568 the area was occupied by the Lombards, who supposedly built the Castle of Malcesine around which the town grew.
After a period of domination by the Bishops of Verona, Malcesine became an independent city-state in 1154, with the right to mint coins and to make its own laws. It later passed into the hands of the Della Scala family, then became part of the Venetian Republic and the seat of the "Captain of the lake".
Malcesine on lake Garda subsequently became a part of the Lombard-Veneto Kingdom. After the Third War of Independence in 1866, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Malcesine was already a tourist spot before World War I, but it was only after the construction of the Gardesana Orientale road and the lake front that the tourism industry flourished and consequently triggered an authentic economic boom at the end of the fifties.
September 13, 1786: Johann Wolfgang Goethe travels by boat from Torbole sul Garda to Malcesine. This is what he wrote in his "Journey in Italy":
"Rowing was impossible against the strong wind, so we were forced to land at Malcesine. This is the first Venetian village on the eastern shore of the lake garda... I want to take full advantage of this stop, especially to draw the castle beside the lake, which is a good subject.
I made a sketch today when I passed in front of it." An entry made the following day: "As usual, I spent some time at the old castle which is open to all because it lacks windows and doors and has no custodian or guards. In the castle courtyard I sat in front of the tower built upon a rock. I found a cozy place to draw, sitting near a closed door three or four steps above the ground..."
Cassone, 3 km south of Malcesine, is a lovely town with romantic views and picturesque 15th century buildings, including the tower and port. The Aril River (175 m), considered the world's shortest river, flows through the old town center at lake garda.
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