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The garden-town of Gardone Riviera
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller

In Gardone Riviera many accents reminiscent of the spaces and landscapes of the films of Luchino Visconti.
They are looks and visions from a past where women carried artsy hats with a veil and in the dressing rooms the maids would hand them satin gloves, opening wardrobes with a hint of lavender.

An enchanted place, where slowness and apathy prevail, as if time stood still in this first real fragment of a South that embraces the tourist arriving from Riva through the many galleries of the Gardesana Occidentale. A stroll whose foundations are built by the sea, populated by tall rose-bays and oranges.

Here you’ll find cafes with billiard rooms. A stroll along the shore, shows the peaks of Mount Baldo in the distance, often snowcapped until late may, as the last bastion of the Alps. Further along, among the uproar of waves, the extended island of cypresses that Saint Frances elected as refuge at the beginning of his path.
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Gardone riviera is made of two parts: the group of houses by the water and the other located on the slope by the church. The locals call them Gardone Sopra (Upper Gardone) and Gardone Sotto (Lower Gardone).

Gardone sotto is the elegant part: The Grand Hotel, immortalized in the literary novel "Untergang eines Herzens" by Stefan Zweig, the cocktail bar where Winston Churchill rested after painting, the park of the Savoy Hotel, that in the early 1900 would offer every night a great ball with orchestra to the noble guest from Russia, Sweden and other cold lands.

Gardone Sopra is more rustic, smells of olives and dry grappa, and seldom, within the tortuous alleys, the pious women still carry the Virgin Mary in procession.
Probably their grandfathers worked as errand boys for the devious Gabriele D’Annunzio, whose luxurious residence, extending for nine hectares and located next to Gardone, is a token of magnificent outlandishness, celebrating war victims and cruel sacrifices that was so Important for Mussolini but is repugnant to me.
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller
Gardone Sotto e Gardone sopra are connected by a place of magic and sensuality: The Botanical Garden. A botanical collection of continental stature, where Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia are interwoven.

Edelweiss among orchid meadows, meter tall ferns next to splendid pomegranates. Creeks and falls, ponds with koi carps, trouts and reflections of flying dragonflies, stone hills next to cacti and ivy towers. Indian and Moroccan sculptures in harmony with art works from Roy Lichtenstein, Susanne Schmoegner and Keith Haring.

I am among this paradise, that never stops amazing me and filling me with joy, since 1988. The dentist to the last Tsar, Dr. Arturo Hruska, funded this fortune, which also hosts a venetian villa, that is now my beautiful home. When I watch from one of the balconies the majesty of Lake Garda or one of my bamboo woods, it is always difficult for me to believe that this park wanted me as its custodian and ally, and I thank it, as much as I can, with love.

André Heller