"Do you know the land where the lemon-trees grow, in darkened leaves the gold-oranges glow, a soft wind blows from the pure blue sky,..." this is how Goethe described the gardens of Eden on Lake Garda in 1795.
If you are on Lake Garda you cannot fail to visit the lemon groves, original structures typical of the Riviera and a small miracle of human genius, considering that today those of this area are the cultivation of these citrus fruits, which normally require a climate warm, northernmost in the world.
Of Asian origin, the lemon arrives in Italy thanks to the Arabs and it seems that its cultivation in Lake Garda began in Gargnano in the 13th century in a convent of Franciscan friars. Favored by the docile microclimate of the lake, its production was encouraged in particular under the rule of the Republic of Venice which pushed the birth of lemon houses, fascinating terraced buildings designed to shelter the fruits from the cold.
The development of this trade saw its peak in the 1700s, when in the small town of Gargnano there were many citrus groves and the precious lemons, before being transported to Northern Europe, were wrapped one by one with tissue papers decorated by famous artists of the time. Even today there are collectors of these small masterpieces, just think that the Dolce & Gabbana duo was inspired by Sicilian citrus fruit tissues for their recent collections.
Among the most beautiful lemon houses still in operation (and open to visitors), in Gargnano the Gandossi family reopened the ancient La Malora lemon house, which takes its name from the nearby stream. Dating back to the 16th century, here the renowned native Madernina lemon variety is grown.
The restoration of the terraced structure was long and complex because the owners wanted to follow the tradition, starting from the philological reconstruction of the stone masonry parts up to the choice of the timber for the poles and the re-establishment of the original irrigation channels.
With these premises, even the cultivation of fruits could only be carried out with absolutely natural methods, to give life to a harvest that begins in January and continues throughout the summer.
These particular lemons are characterized by a thin peel and an abundance of essential oils, therefore very suitable for a gastronomic use. How to try them? In La Malora it is possible to buy its delicious handicraft products such as the traditional Limoncino, the Limoncino Verde that is made only here with the peel of small unripe lemons, and the lemon jam.