The visit to the lemon garden

Discover the tradition of the historic lemon gardens of Lake Garda

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

The cultivation of lemons on the western shore of Lake Garda was introduced by the Franciscan friars in the fourteenth century and developed over the centuries. The peak of this industry was reached in 1700, when the Gargnano landscape became completely dominated by many citrus groves. In Gargnano the Società Lago di Garda dealt with the ‘cernita’ (selection) of lemons. The fruits, wrapped one by one, were directly loaded on to the boats and transported to Riva del Garda. From here they were sent to the various states of northern Europe.

We want to offer everyone the opportunity to discover these beautiful structures, a symbol of local history as well as the tenacity and ingenuity of our ancestors, through guided tours that can be tailored to the specific needs of each group of guests.

In addition, for schools, we offer recreational and scientific activities where, for instance, pupils can directly experience the link between water and the lemon garden or can be involved in moments of reflection and listening through the reading of fables.

Such visits can be organized at any time of year. During the winter season (between November and March) the lemon garden becomes a greenhouse, covered by wooden boards and windows to protect the plants from the cold. This is without a doubt a good time for a visit, with the limonaia fully showing its full essence!

 

Limonaia La Malora, Via Libertà,  2 – 25084 Gargnano (BS) – SEE MAP

OPENING HOURS
  • OPEN EVERY DAY: 10:00 – 12:00  /  16:00 – 18:00
  • Guided tour at 11:00

Entrance : € 3,00

INFORMATIONS

Email  limonaialamalora@libero.it 

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

La Malura

“La Malora” (or, in the local dialect, “La Malura”), is a lemon garden dating back to the sixteenth century, still kept in perfect condition respecting ancient traditions.
Its name comes from the small stream Rio Malora (in modern times called Rio Molini) that runs on the north side of the garden and that once also fed the wheels of the mills.
The garden was acquired by its present owner, Giuseppe Gandossi, in 1978 after it had been completely abandoned. At that time, only six of the original plants remained alive.

This Limonaia is one of the very few still in full operation, with about 20,000 lemons produced annually.

The lemon trees are grafted on bitter orange (citrus aurantium), which is more resistant to disease and cold, and are supported by a wooden frame that allows them to reach a maximum height of around 8 meters. The garden is made up of three terraces, called còle in the local dialect, further subdivided into campi (fields).

La Malura

“La Malora” (or, in the local dialect, “La Malura”), is a lemon garden dating back to the sixteenth century, still kept in perfect condition respecting ancient traditions.
Its name comes from the small stream Rio Malora (in modern times called Rio Molini) that runs on the north side of the garden and that once also fed the wheels of the mills.
The garden was acquired by its present owner, Giuseppe Gandossi, in 1978 after it had been completely abandoned. At that time, only six of the original plants remained alive.

This Limonaia is one of the very few still in full operation, with about 20,000 lemons produced annually.

The lemon trees are grafted on bitter orange (citrus aurantium), which is more resistant to disease and cold, and are supported by a wooden frame that allows them to reach a maximum height of around 8 meters. The garden is made up of three terraces, called còle in the local dialect, further subdivided into campi (fields).

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

Covering the Limonaia

Lemon trees are very delicate: they do not like the cold! For this reason they grow more easily in Mediterranean climates further south. The peculiarity of the lemon gardens of Lake Garda is precisely this: to ensure the productivity of the plant, the garden is transformed into a winter greenhouse.

This operation, called copertura, usually occurs around mid-November. High stone walls permanently enclose the left and right side of the garden. They protect lemons from the winds that blow throughout the year.

The procedure begins with wooden planks that are brought out and arranged horizontally on the beam structure that you can see above you. These are nailed in place, becoming the roof of the greenhouse. Windows and shutters are then positioned vertically on the three facades facing the lake, so as to completely enclose the garden. Finally, every remaining fissure is plugged using special straw, in an operation called stupinatura that requires considerable patience.

But if the outside temperature falls to exceptionally low values, extra precautions must be taken, such as starting controlled bonfires inside the greenhouse.

In early March, the limonaia is uncovered. Boards, windows and shutters are removed and carefully stored away. The garden can take again its summer appearance.

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

Irrigation

The irrigation system consists of canals carved in limestone. Water is brought to the trees simply by gravity. The gardener, by means of suitable diverting mechanisms, directs the flow to the chosen plant and then positions a sand bag to block the flow.

The water is forced to overflow the sandstone canal and reaches the plant by means of a portable wooden gutter.

At the lower end of the wooden gutter a bunch of twigs is positioned to ensure a more gentle dispersion of the water at the base of the plant.

Irrigation

The irrigation system consists of canals carved in limestone. Water is brought to the trees simply by gravity. The gardener, by means of suitable diverting mechanisms, directs the flow to the chosen plant and then positions a sand bag to block the flow.

The water is forced to overflow the sandstone canal and reaches the plant by means of a portable wooden gutter.

At the lower end of the wooden gutter a bunch of twigs is positioned to ensure a more gentle dispersion of the water at the base of the plant.

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

Lemon trees

The lemon trees in our orchard belong to the variety called Madernina, native of Lake Garda. This variety is characterized by medium-sized fruits with a light and fragrant skin. The juice is very sour, whereas lemons that grow in more southern locations are normally sweeter, so much so that they can even be used in salads.

Until not long ago, the fruit of the lemon was crucial to cure scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C.

This disease particularly affected sailors and, until the middle of the nineteenth century and the invention of the chemical synthesis of citric acid, could only be cured with lemons.

Limonaia La Malora - Decorazione

Storage house casello

The storage house (casello) is the place where the gardeners’ tools are kept and where boards, windows and shutters for the covering are stored away during the summer.

Each limonaia had a storage house built next to it, rising as a tower and made up of several floors (normally one floor for each corresponding terrace).

The old tools of the gardeners, including the nails, el grumial (bag for the collection of lemons and olives), baskets and gauges for measuring lemons, are still used today and are displayed here.

Storage house casello

The storage house (casello) is the place where the gardeners’ tools are kept and where boards, windows and shutters for the covering are stored away during the summer.

Each limonaia had a storage house built next to it, rising as a tower and made up of several floors (normally one floor for each corresponding terrace).

The old tools of the gardeners, including the nails, el grumial (bag for the collection of lemons and olives), baskets and gauges for measuring lemons, are still used today and are displayed here.

Limonaia La Malora, Via Libertà, 2 – 25084 Gargnano (BS)

 

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