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It was a Saturday in June, with lots of people arriving at Lake Garda—from the north, from Austria, out of habit; from Milan and from Veneto, out of a desire to see the Italian Golf Open; from Rome for the wedding at the Vittoriale between Francesco d’Annunzio and Giulia Mazzoni, with the bride in Gucci butterflies and jacquard. A real mix of holidaymakers, from Roberto d’Agostino to the TG5 Italian TV news, going beyond gossip to embrace trash, and even Michael Nyman, the piano maestro and composer, Oscar winner for The Piano, and collaborator with Giulia on several of her tracks and the world tours that see her travelling the continents.

That Saturday, in the early afternoon, coming down from the Vittoriale, the lakeside road led to the entrance of a hotel that was once the royal residence of the Habsburg family. Here at the Grand Hotel Fasano we left behind all the clamor and success of that Italian Saturday to sit at a table laid in the shade of a magnolia tree in bloom, just a few meters from the water. There are two magnolias quite close to each other, and their intertwined branches form an umbrella of leaves and create cool air. The damp breeze has a brackish, lake flavor to it, mixed with the scent of the sun, the perfume of the sun, for those who recognize it. The cast iron tables, the ducks, mallards in fact, strut about the lawn and the gravel, rather pompously begging for nice breadcrumbs. Those magnolias and their shade on the white tablecloth, a plate of vitello tonnato and a bowl of cream of tomato and basil, provided an image that is the poetry of an Italian springtime.

Fasano belongs to the Mayr brothers, Olliver and Patrick, perhaps one of the best hotels reviewed by this column, Lampoon Agenda. The rooms overlook the lake to the east when you wake up: you can just see the opposite side of the lake and the Isola del Garda island. A solitary sailing boat speeds up on the wind, German guests are enjoying a swim out on the lake. The swans take flight—the mist dissolves as the sunlight dances around the sundial.

On the top floor, the room plays with the pale hues of cream and beige. There is a red, fully opened peony. The French windows are open behind the billowing curtains and two chaises longues inherited from Thomas Mann or Prince Rudolf await on the terrace. The hexagonal terracotta floor has been polished with such an abundance of wax that it looks to be covered with water, as glossy as a mirror, the essence of cleanliness. In the morning, breakfast is served on the terrace with local strawberries grown on steep slopes. The heart falls in love like it did yesterday, and at ten in the morning the breeze whispers through the shade of the linden trees, the cypresses and lake palms—and those two blooming magnolias—bringing with it the scent of the sun once again.

Grand Hotel Fasano

Via Zanardelli, 190

25083 Gardone Riviera (BS)

T 0039 0365 290 220