Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

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Villa Capponi

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Iris Origo

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Villa Lante

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The Medici Villa at Careggi

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Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

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Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

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Il Palazzone

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Villa di Pratolino

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Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Gardens in Tuscany

Villa della Capponcina (photograph by Giulio Monasta)


Vittoriale degli italiani


The Vittoriale degli italiani (English translation: The shrine of Italian victories) is a hillside estate in the town of Gardone Riviera overlooking the Garda lake in province of Brescia, Lombardy. It is where the Italian writer Gabriele d'Annunzio lived after his defenestration in 1922 until his death in 1938. The estate consists of the residence of d'Annunzio called the Prioria (priory), an amphitheatre, the light cruiser Puglia set into a hillside, a boathouse containing the MAS vessel used by D'Annunzio in 1918 and a circular mausoleum. Its grounds are now part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.

References to the Vittoriale range from a “monumental citadel” to a “fascist lunapark”,[1] the site inevitably inheriting the controversy surrounding its creator.


The house, Villa Cargnacco, had belonged to a German art historian from whom it was confiscated by the Italian state, including its collection of books and a piano which had belonged to Liszt. d'Annunzio rented it in February 1921 and within a year reconstruction started under the guidance of architect Giancarlo Maroni. Due to d'Annunzio's popularity and his disagreement with the fascist government on several issues, such as the alliance with Nazi Germany, the fascists did what they could to please d'Annunzio in order to keep him away from political life in Rome. Part of their strategy was to make huge funds available to expand the property, to construct and/or modify buildings, and to create the impressive art and literature collection. In 1924 the airplane that d'Annunzio used for his pamphleteering run over Vienna during World War I was brought to the estate, followed in 1925 by the MAS naval vessel used by him to taunt the Austrians in 1918 in the Beffa di Buccari. In the same year the light cruiser Puglia was hauled up the hill and placed in the woods behind the house, and the property was expanded by acquisition of surrounding lands and buildings.

In 1926 the government donated an amount of 10 million lire, which allowed a considerable enlargement of the Villa, with a new wing named the Schifamondo. In 1931 construction was started on the Parlaggio, the name for the amphitheatre. The mausoleum was designed after d'Annunzio's death but not actually built until 1955, and d'Annunzio's remains were finally brought there in 1963.

Gabriele D'Annunzio

Gabriele D’Annunzio was an Italian poet, novelist and dramatist, military hero, and a typical Latin lover. D'Annunzio combined in his work naturalism, symbolism, and erotic images, becoming the best interpreter of European Decadence in post-Risorgimento Italy.

A man of remarkable energy and continuous enthusiasm, D'Annunzio gained fame for leading a flight mission of eight aircraft over Vienna in August 1918 dropping leaflets aimed at demoralising the Viennese population.
His heroic adventures during World War I, his love affairs, relationship with the world-famous actress Eleanora Duse, and his occupation of Fiume made him a legend in his own time. Annoyed that Italy had lost the town of Fiume, D´Annunzio's troops occupied the contested port in 1919.

As a writer, he was known for L'innocente (1976), Cabiria (1914) and La crociata degli innocenti (1917).
L'innocente was the last film made by Italian director Luchino Visconti.[4]

D’Annunzio was married to Maria Hardouin di Gallese, a duke's daughter. They had three sons; the marriage ended in 1891. His unfaithfulness drove her to attempt suicide – she threwn herself from the window of their apartment.

A new source of inspiration, in the form of Elvira Natalia Fraternali, came to D'Annunzio's life. Known better as Barbara Leoni, she appeared under the pseudonym Vittoria Doni in Elegie romane (1892), written during their love affair.

D'Annunzio's best-known novel, The Triumph of Death, Barbara Leoni served as the model for the character Ippolita Sanzio, the mistress of the hero, a writer obsessed with death.

In the early 1890s D'Annunzio moved to Naples, where his novel, The Intruder, was serialized in Il corriere di Napoli. In 1894, after a long liaison with the Countess Gravina Auguissola, Gabriele D’Annunzio managed to seduce his final conquest, actress Eleonora Duse. Their relationship started after D'Annunzio's journey to the Aegean islands. Duse read D’Annunzio’s novel L’Innocente and worked to convince him to write a play for her. Inspired by Duse, he wrote several dramas for her, including La Gioconda (1899) and Francesca da Rimini (1901), which along with Ibsen’s dramas she performed all over the world.

When not touring, Eleanora Duse lived in a modest villa, La Porziuncola, Via della Capponcina 75, in Settignano, in the hills above Florence. D’Annunzio rented the beautifull villa La Capponcina, living there with his 38 borzoi dogs, 10 horses, 15 servants, and 200 doves.'[3]
From 1922 until his death in 1938, D’Annunzio lived a kind of posthumous existence at Il Vittoriale, the villa above Lake Garda that he gradually transformed into a monument and a museum to himself.

His work influenced many other writers, including James Joyce. James Joyce called d'Annunzio one of the three "most naturally talented writers" of the late 19th century (the other two were Rudyard Kipling and Leo Tolstoy).



Gabriele D'Annunzio


Eleonora Duse

Buildings at the Vittoriale degli italiani

The Prioria

The Prioria itself consists of a number of rooms opulently decorated and filled with memorabilia. Notable are the two waiting rooms, one for welcome guests, one for unwelcome ones. It is the latter where Benito Mussolini was sent to on his visit in 1925. A phrase was inscribed specifically for him above the mirror:

To the visitor:

Are you bringing Narcissus' Mirror?
This is leaded glass, my mask maker.
Adjust your mask to your face,
But mind that you are glass against steel.
The leper's room is where D'Annunzio's wake was held upon his death. Its name comes from the fact that d'Annunzio felt that he was being spurned by the government due to their continued efforts to keep him in Gardone, rather than possibly in the limelight in Rome.

The Relic room holds a large collection of religious statues and images of different beliefs, purposely placed together to make a statement about the universal character of spirituality. The inscription on the inner wall reads:

As there are five fingers on a hand, there are only five mortal sins.
D'Annunzio wished to make clear hereby that he didn't believe that lust and greed should be considered sinful.

The Amphitheatre

The amphitheatre is the first major structure one comes across after entering the estate and was clearly based upon classic models, the architect Maroni even visiting Pompeii for inspiration. Its location, like the other buildings of the Vittoriale undeniably offers a majestic view of the Garda lake, it is still used for performances today.[2]

The Mausoleum

The circular structure is situated on the highest point on the estate. It contains the remains of men who served D'Annunzio and died during the Fiume incident, and d'Annunzio himself.

The Light cruiser Puglia

Jutting out of one of the hilltops the Puglia makes a surreal sight. It was placed there, with its bow pointing in the direction of the Adriatic, “ready to conquer the Dalmatian shores”.


[1] The Vittoriale degli Italiani, Fred Licht, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 318-324
[2] Teatro del Vittoriale 2008
[3] Joyce found in D’Annunzio a writer who sanitized nothing: in his novel The Triumph of Death, he paints an accurate and uncensored portrait of his father’s bodily functions.
Joyce’s copy of D’Annunzio’s La Gioconda is dated May 1900, around the time that he went to London and saw Eleanora Duse performing in La Gioconda. Afterwards Joyce wrote a poem of adulation and kept her photo on his desk.
[ The influence of Gabrielle D’Annunzio and Eleonara Duse on James Joyce and his creation of Molly Bloom |]
[4] The Innocent tells the story of Tullio Hermil (Giancarlo Giannini), a domineering, sexually rapacious patriarch who is married to Giuliana (Laura Antonelli), whom he mistreats on a daily basis. The Innocent turned out to be Visconti's last film; he died in 1976, shortly before the picture's premiere.

Podere Santa Pia, a formal cloister in the Tuscan Maremma with a view made in heaven is situated on the outskirts of Castiglioncello Bandini.

Tuscan Holiday houses | Podere Santa Pia
Wine regions in Tuscany
Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden
on the valley below

Montepulciano, San Biagio
Villa Gamberaia
San Biagio, Montepulciano
Villa Cappuncina in Settignano, Fiesole

Massa Marittima
Siena, duomo
This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia article Vittoriale degli italiani, published under the GNU Free Documentation License. Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Gabriele d'Annunzio.and Vittoriale degli italiani.