The architectural structure lake garda

The morphology of the coast from Salò to Limone, shouldered by high, rocky hills, fovoured a structure set on terraces about four metres wide from pillar to pillar and five metres from pillar to skirting wall, called “cola”.

The area inside two pairs of pillars, a pair in front, another pair behind, was about 20 square metres wide and was called “campo” or “campata” (field).

In the “cola” a path, useful to the gardener, bordering the pillars, was also included. Trees were cultivated in the open air during the warm months and closed and protected in a closed environment in winter, heated when needed. The lemon trees, after 8-9 years of care and transplanting, when the trunk was about 10 cm in diameter, were placed in full ground in the “cola”, so that they could reach their maximum growth, about 9-10 metres high, often living for over a century.

The “casello” (“càsel” in local dialect) is a two or three storey rural building that rose like a tower, higher than the pillars, communicating on top with the roof the lemon orchard. The “casello” showed some openings, windows and doors, usually on the side common to the lemon orchard, at the level of the roof, in order to make covering and uncovering operations more accessible. It was used as a storage area for the mobile equipment for sheltering. The gardener’s house was often built next to the lemon garden so that he could have a full control of the temperature in very cold winters.

The lemon garden were common in the steepest places und gave the landscape the characteristic morphology that is even noticeable today, below the village of Piovere, along the road to Muslone, in the whole area of Gargnano and Limone.

The structure of the roof consisted of big chestnut wood beams called “sparadòs” and “canter”; the mobile items used to cover the front were called “envedriàe” (glass windows) “mesì” (middle boards) and „üsère“ (doors). These boards were numbered progressively to make the covering and uncovering easier.

The gardeners had to work night and day in order to close against the fog and frost or open to the sun and the fresh air especially when humidity, due to rain, was too high inside. One hour of frost could damage both trees and fruit irreparably. It was hard work that required a continuous supervision and competence.

At the end of November as soon as the weather got colder, the gardeners placed the mobile items, filling every hole with hay or dried grass. These gardens greatly needed water and the owner, before building the lemon house, had to check carefully the irrigation system available.

The cultivation of the citrus fruit developed in a period of almost 8 centuries from the 13th to the 20th century, first in the open air, then sheltered from the winter frost with more and more elaborated structures.


A part of the book "The Lemon Gardens of Lake Garda from the past to the present" of Leila Losi