Excellent guests

‘Outside was the moon, up above in the sky, and the long garden beside the lake resembled silver, with its noble plants, palms, magnolias, agaves and the scent of roses’. These words of the German Poet Paul Heyse – 1910 Nobel Prize for Literature – describe the rapture of one of his stays at the Grand Hotel, where he was often a guest in the decade 1899-1909, and where he set his novella ‘A Venetian Night’, from the volume ‘Novellas from Lake Garda’ (1902). But the list of excellent guests that have stayed at the Grand Hotel is nearly endless: from Sir Winston Churchill to Gabriele “The Poet” D’Annunzio; from King George of Saxony to the novelists William Somerset Maugham and Vladimir Nabokov; down to the great stars of music, theatre and dance, who in the last years have performed at the summer festival hosted by the Vittoriale at Gardone Riviera, and who have chosen the Grand Hotel as a place to stay on the Garda. Would you like to know more? Then do keep an eye on our blog, where we will regularly post some of the most interesting facts about the Grand Hotel – 130 years of history.

GUESTS FROM CENTRAL EUROPE

In Gardone, the period called "Mitteleuropean" goes from 1885 to 1915. This name comes from the foundation of Kurverein, or Committee of care - more precisely committee on health resort of Gardone Riviera" and it was created in 1886 by two German doctors, Dr. Rohden and Dr. Ludwig. Karl Koeniger. The Grand housed in winter season a large number of people of culture, industry and the nobility, including, in the spring of 1903, the retinue of King George of Saxony. Special evenings, dances and masked balls held in the great ballroom of the Grand Hotel during the Belle Epoque were memorable.

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WINSTON CHURCHILL

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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), was a British statesman who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and an artist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. On 25thJuly 1949 he was welcomed at the Grand Hotel Gardone where he stayed for a long time.

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GABRIELE D'ANNUNZIO

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Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938), poet, writer, dramatist, exponent of the Italian decadence, the hero of the Great War and commander of the heroic feat of Fiume, protagonist of the Italian and French social life. There was a great outcry over his numberless amorous adventures, in particular the breaking of ties with the great actress Eleonora Duse. Finally, on 2nd February 1921 he arrived on the shores of the lake, in Gardone Riviera. While he was waiting Villa Cargnacco was refurnished, he stayed at the Grand Hotel Gardone with the pianist Luisa Baccara and the staff. It was reserved an entire floor just for him, while the loyal legions camped in the halls. He created in Gardone Riviera the Vittoriale - designed by Gian Carlo Maroni. He went and stayed there from 1921 until his death and he was buried in the ark placed in the center of the Mausoleum.

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GUESTS OF D'ANNUNZIO

It's impossible to list all the guests of the poet who stayed at the Grand Hotel Gardone from 1921 to 1938. It may be pointed out: Tom Antongini (1877-1967), writer and biographer of D'Annunzio. Tom was his secretary during the French period. Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973), composer, poet and friend of the Poet. During summer 1923 he participated to the birth of the "Corporazione delle Nove Muse". Francesco Paolo Michetti (1851-1929), painter and photographer, great friend of D'Annunzio since youth when he gave rise to the "Cenacolo Francavillese" (which was so important in the culture of 'Abruzzo) where the poet wrote some of his first successful works. Arnoldo Mondadori (1989-1971), editor of D'Annunzio, Ugo Ojetti (1871-1946), journalist and writer, director of the Corriere della Sera, Ida Rubinstein (1888-1960), Russian dancer and actress, artist in Paris in 1911 of the Martyre de Saint-Sébastien d'Annunzio-Debussy.

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RAOUL FOLLEREAU

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Raoul Follereau (1903-1977), French poet and well known philanthropist "Apostle of the lepers", he stayed for at least two decades at the Grand Hotel where he celebrated his sixty years in 1963, two years after he was awarded the honorary citizenship of Gardone Riviera.

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PAUL HEYSE

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Paul Heyse (1830-1914), poet, German writer, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910. He attended the Grand Hotel from 1899 to 1909 when he stayed in winter at Villa Annina in Gardone Riviera. He set in the big hotel the story "Eine venezianische Nacht" (A night in Venice) written in 1901 and published in 1902 in the "Novellen vom Gardasee" (Lake Garda novels).

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FRANCESCO MESSINA

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Francesco Messina (1900-1995), one of the greatest Italian sculptors of the twentieth century, well known in Japan, he attended the Grand during the sixties for long stays before buying a summer home and a studio in Gardone in via Roma. He was also a poet and the landscape of Gardone inspired some poems published in a book printed by Mondadori in 1973. One of the poem is dedicated to the great camphor of the promonade along the lake: "Green Eyes has the Night. / Venus ingemmest sunrise-white rose on the back of the fairing Baldo. / To the west the moon still keeps the twilight. / Strange images become foggy with vapors of day."

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BENITO MUSSOLINI

mussoliniBenito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945), was the founder of fascism, head of the Government of the Italian Kingdom from January 1925. He was also head of the Italian Social Republic from September 1943 to 27th April 1947. He stopped at the Grand to meet Gabriele D'Annunzio. During ISR, when the big hotel became a hospital, he attended the Grand several times to visit the wounded and his son Romano who was hospitalized after surgery.

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VLADIMIR NABOKOV

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Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was at the Grand in June 1965. He was an important figure of the world literature thanks to the success of Lolita, published in 1955 by the Olympia Press in Paris. Many journalists interviewed him in the garden of the hotel and found a quiet old man, tall, stribg, dressed like a colonial English man much more than a Russian-American. He was confident in front of the camera, next to his wife. They asked the reason for the holiday on the lake "On these hills there are rare butterflies" he said. "Perhaps in the United States lolitas were called "butterflies"? Someone cracked a smile. Nabokov was also an entomologist (and what fame!), as well as a literary critic and a so different writer from the one who wrote his most famous novel.

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ALBERT SABIN

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Albert Sabin (1906-1993), physician and virologist. Polish but naturalized American, famous for having developed the most used vaccine against polio. He worked for thirty years at the University of Cincinnati (Kentucky), where in 1946 he was appointed chief of pediatric research. In 1939 he announced to the scientific community his first important discovery about the nature of polio virus that attacks the nerve fibers and between 1954-55 he developed the vaccine that it was not patented; he gave up the commercial exploitation to ensure its dissemination. He declared: "Many insisted I patented the vaccine, but I did not. It 's my gift to all children of the world." He was a guest of the Grand in the seventies during his visit in Italy and in particular to pharmaceutical plants Sigurtà.

  

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WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM

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Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), after attending the Faculty of Medicine at King's College London, devoted himself to literature. Author of plays and novels, he met success in 1914 with "Of Human Bondage" which was followed by other books translated worldwide, including "The Moon and Sixpence", inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, and "The Razor's Edge". He had an adventurous life and he normally spent the last period of his life at the Grand Hotel Gardone before reaching Venice, where he used to stay at the Gritti. Hard to say whether the writer has drawn inspiration from the landscape of Lake Garda, but certainly he was fascinated.

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VALENTINA TERESKOVA

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Valentina Tereskova (Bol'šoe Maslennikov 1937), Russian astronaut. She was the first woman in the world when she was 26, in 1963, aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft, and made 48 laps around the Earth in three days. She was celebrated at the Grand Hotel Gardone in October 1967 during her visit to Italy. When reporters asked her, after her breakfast in the garden, how was the Earth from the space, she replied: "It looked like a bride with her white veil."

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GUESTS OF THE GRAND IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

Also during the Third Millennium, celebrities from all over the world continue to choose the historical hotel for their holidays in Gardone. The international press informs readers that the Grand is one of the most fascinating hotel in Italy, and beyond. It is situated in a wonderful environment, characterized by a particular climate that makes a stay very pleasant in all seasons, but above all in late autumn and spring, when the Monte Baldo and its snow make the landscape more beautiful in a contrast of colors. A sort of amphitheater hillside rich in Mediterranean vegetation is situated behind the hotel, while the lake opens in front of it so as the Garda Island, the rock in Manerba and the peninsula of Sirmione, "flower of islands and peninsulas", where two thousand years ago seemed to Catullus to hear the joyous laughter of the waves of Lake Garda.

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