Torri’s beginnings

Torri del Benàco is a pleasant tourist locality with a population of about 2,700 inhabitants situated at the centre of the eastern shore of Lake Garda, also referred to as the Shore of the Olives for its centuries old trees that climb up the higher slopes to 400 metres of altitude. Due to the effect of the lake, Torri enjoys an excellent temperate climate. Furthermore, the zone is protected to the north from the Baldo mountainous range which prevents it from being reached by the cold alpine winds and, as a result, it has early springs and gentle and lenghtened autumns. This particularly mild climate gives rise to a spontaneous rich mediterranian vegetation that together with the excellent geographical location makes it one of the prime tourist spots of lake Garda. Old streets and lanes, historic buildings and modern homes are immersed in an enchanting natural green environment that, among pines, olive trees and lemon groves, offers peace and serenity. Torri del Benaco rises 67 metres above sea level and has a municipal territory of 4,850 hectares which includes the two towns of Albisano and Pai. It is bounded to the north by the municipality of Brenzone, to the east with that of San Zeno di Montagna and to the south by the municipality of Garda. To the west there is a ferry-boat link to the Brescia side of the lake. This splendid lake resort is easely reached thanks to: the motorway Brennero-Modena, Affi toll booth at 16 km (exit “Lago di Garda Sud”) and the toll booth of Rovereto at 45 km (exit “Lago di Garda Nord”) or the motorway Milano-Venezia’s toll booth of Peschiera del Garda at 22 km, the train station at Verona (40 km) or that of Peschiera del Garda and the airport “Valerio Catullo” of Verona, Villafranca, an important international link and only 35 km away. There is also a good network of public transportation (Azienda Provinciale Trasporti) that besides connecting Torri with the train stations and the airport , allows one to easily reach nearby towns. The first signs of the presence of man on the Torri territory go back to 2000BC. This is confirmed by findings of decorated ceramic and stone objects from the Bronze Age during excavations in the centre of town (1978) Traces of lake dwellings were discovered in the ‘60s. The numerous rock incisions also testify the human presence during that period: there are stone carvings of animals, crosses, stylized human forms and geometrical figures. One of the most significant sites being at Pietra Grande, at Crer.
The toponomy of some localities of the territory as well as the west tower of the castle, the harbour and the Trincero’ quarter in the northern part of the historic centre near the parish church and the findings of Roman coins of the imperial era testify that Torri (Tulles) became part of the Roman Empire near the end of the first century BC when the roman legions occupied the eastern coast of the lake. After the fall of the Roman Empire, first the Goths, then the Longobards and Francs and, at the end of the 10th century, the Hungarians invaded the area. Therefore, Berengario I, king of Italy, arrived in Torri in 905, had a wall built protecting the town, the remains of which still stand, and the Tower of Berengario. And in Torri the king also dated six diplomas with which he rewarded those who helped him in the fight against Ludovico III of Borgoigne. In the 12th century the troops of Barbarossa passed through. The Church of St. John, near the old cemetery, the Church of the Trinity, near the harbour, and St. Gregory in Pai, were all founded during this period. With the arrival of the Scaligeri in Verona, the harbour’s dock was fortified, and the Castle, upon commission of Antonio della Scala, the last of the Scaligeri, was rebuilt on the site of pre-existing ruins. But despite the strengthening of its defenses, even Torri was beset by the war between the Visconti and the Da Carrara who alternated in ruling the shore of the lake. In 1405, Torri came under the Repubblica di Venezia. During this period it became the seat of the Gardesana dell’Acqua, a confederation of ten municipalities of the Veronese shore, with the mission of dividing the fiscal burdens and putting a stop to the contraband on lake Garda. The Council, who was presided by the Captain of the Lake (among them Giovanni dei Menaroli, 1380, from Torri) was held in the Palazzo della Gardesana, at one time belonging to the noble Calderini family. Between 1500 and 1600 the population of Torri was reduced to a half by the plague. The sick were put up near the Church of St. John and in the monastery adjoining the Church of San Faustino. At the end of the 18th century, napoleonic troops landed in Torri who fought against the austrians: at Pai, in the lake’s waters, an austrian fleet made the french flee. Subsequently, the entire zone was hit by famine and diseases. In 1866, after having felt the echo of the wars of Independence fought in the lower lake and the undertakings of Garibaldi’s troops, Torri became part of the Italian Kingdom. During that period, the prevalent activities were fishing and the cultivation of olives; but the local people also worked in the greenhouses of citrus fruits (the one of the Castle Scaligero is one of the few still functioning on lake Garda) and in the marble quarries (yellow marble of Torri). The phenomenon of immigration to foreign lands followed which lasted till after the first world war. In the ‘20s , the Gardesana road was widenened and, after the second world war, there began a slow economic recovery.