After poet and Italian ultra-nationalist Gabriele d’Annunzio was pushed from a window in a murder attempt, he formed his ideas and legacy into the eclectic estate Vittoriale Degli Italiani (The Shrine of Italian Victories).
A controversial figure in the history of Italian fascism, d’Annunzio purchased the estate from a German art historian and immediately began converting the grounds into a culminating statement about his life’s work. Despite his having led political actions against the Italian government, Benito Mussolini himself bankrolled much of d’Annunzio’s work on the estate, keeping him in semi-exile rather than having him out inciting unpopular ideas. The main building, known as the “Prioria,” was remodeled to include such eccentric flourishes as separate waiting rooms for guests wanted and unwanted, and a relic room that held objects of faith from a global selection of disciplines as a statement on the ubiquitous nature of spirituality. A Classically-inspired amphitheater was also constructed in front of the mansion echoing d’Annunzio’s love of oratory.
D’Annunzio also had two military craft installed on the grounds. One, a naval cruiser that d’Annunzio served on during World War I, was placed on a hillside facing the Adriatic Sea, to always be on the lookout. The second was a small airplane which was used by the poet in a famous propaganda run over Vienna.
Planned prior to his death, the vittoriale’s mausoleum was designed by the poet and sits at the highest point of the estate. d’Annunzio is interred there along with a number of people who worked closely with him.
Today the Vittoriale Degli Italiani is open to visitors who can tour the lush grounds and awe-inspiring architecture. The amphitheater offers regular concerts and operas and the mansion is preserved as a museum to d’Annunzio’s legacy. Fascism has never looked so appealing.
Know Before You Go
Very easy to find and well signposted. Starting from Salo' (BR): Driving directions to Via Vittoriale, 12, 25083 Gardone Riviera Brescia, Italy 3D Salò BS, Italy 1. Head east toward Via del Seminario, 140 m 2. Turn left onto Via del Seminario, 240 m 3. Continue onto Via San Bartolomeo, 230 m 4. Slight left onto SS45bis, 52 m 5. Continue onto Viale dei Colli, 850 m 6. Continue onto Via Trento, 1.4 km 7. Continue onto Corso Zanardelli, 1.1 km 8. Turn left onto Via Vittoriale Destination will be on the right