The origin of the name “Brenzone” is uncertain. It could possibly, and more probably, derive from the name of a germanic tribe called “Brenni”, that resided in the Monte Baldo area in prehistoric times.
They were followed by the arrival of the Roman empire, and so it was that a region called Venezia – Istria was formed. The massive structure of Monte Baldo and its steep slopes have created for centuries many difficulties for land connections and the development of hamlets. Yet numerous archeologic testimonies discovered over the years prove the presence of different built-up areas in our territory. The most important example is the Roman villa found, in 2004, near the medieval church of St. Zeno in Castelletto. This villa is the sole “residenza lacustre” excavated on the eastern shore of Garda lake so far.
The earliest documents demonstrating the district identity of Brenzone derive from the second half of 12th century, when Federico I, Emperor of Germany, known as Red Beard, came down into Italy from the North to extend his power.
During the medieval age, Brenzone and all the Garda area were dominated by the houses of Scaligeri, Visconti, Carrara and finally by Venice and its Republic. In this period many land owning families flourished. Of all these, the most important family was the “Brenzoni dal lion”- of the lion” whose coat of arms has been adopted as a symbol of the local administration to this day.
In the past, communication on land was very difficult because of the harsh and hostile geographical aspects of the territory of Brenzone which, confined between the shores of Lake Garda and the steep slopes of Mount Baldo, is divided by many profound gorges and rushing torrents. Up until the middle of the 19th century, the only roads available were narrow mountain paths, used mainly by mules pulling sleds loaded with chestnuts or other local products, which wound their way from one tiny village to the next. However, the lake provided a faster, easier and more practical way of communicating with friends and family members. In fact, it was often much more common then to establish relationships with the inhabitants of towns on the other side of the lake than with people from the same town.
Since tourism did not exist in Brenzone in the 1800s and early 1900s, the economy of the town depended mainly on agricultural activities such as the breeding of silk worms, the production of dairy products and the cultivation of olive trees (an activity which is still part of our tradition today). Another important activity was gathering firewood, and tied to this, the production of charcoal and lime, made in special stone huts called “calchére”, many of which can still be seen around the area. The many Alpine refuges present are an indication of the importance of our mountain pastures in the struggle for survival of the past. Other sources of income came from fishing and water transport.
The completion of the “Gardesana”, the road constructed between 1929 and 1930 on the shores of Lake Garda, brought with it a radical economic revolution for Brenzone and all the other small villages on the lake. The arrival of tourism, especially after the 2nd World War, has triggered a profoundly dynamic evolution of events which has changed the way of life here, making the area one of the most popular and highly qualified touristic locations in the world.