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Il Vittoriale, Gardone Riviera

Gardone Riviera
Italy 25083
Tel: 39 0365 296 511's insider take:

The life of Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italy's favorite poet-adventurer, was as flamboyant as the kitschy Art Nouveau villa where he spent his final days. During World War I he became something of a rogue war hero, dashing off on glorious campaigns quite against the wishes of his superiors. He flew his own biplane over Vienna in 1918 to prove it could be invaded, and in 1919 raised a private army to conquer part of Yugoslavia. He held the territory for 17 months and became a national hero, despite the fact that the Italian government desperately wanted him to withdraw so they could complete peace negotiations. In an attempt to distract D'Annunzio and silence his criticisms of the Fascist regime, Mussolini gave the poet this lakeside villa. He lived here from 1921 until his death in 1936, carrying on an affair with Eleonora Duse (the A-list actress of her day), and creating a personal war museum. The required guided tours are in Italian, but the cluttered, quirky rooms are worth it—especially in summer, when the villa puts on concerts and plays.

Grounds open daily 8:30 am to 8 pm April 1 to September 30, villa tours Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 am to 7 pm, Museum of War open Thursdays through Tuesdays 9:30 am to 7 pm.
Grounds open daily 9 am to 5 pm October 1 to March 31, villa tours Tuesdays through Sundays 9 am to 1 pm and 2 to 5 pm, Museum of War open Thursdays through Tuesdays 9 am to 1 pm and 2 to 5 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.