Republic of Salò

Lake Garda West Bank

In 1943 Salò was named the capital of the Social Republic of Italy as part of Mussolini and Hitler's last efforts to organise Italian Fascism in the face of advancing American forces. This episode, known as the Republic of Salò, saw more than 16 public and private buildings in the town commandeered and turned into Mussolini's ministries and offices. Strolling between the sites is a surreal tour of the dictator's doomed mini-state. Look out for the multilingual plaques scattered around town.

The Palazzo della Magnifica Patria (now the town hall) was the Interpreters' Office HQ, where foreign dispatches were translated. Bar Italia was the Casa del Fascio, home to Mussolini's guards, and the local primary school became the base for Agenzia Stefani, the notorious news agency for Fascist propaganda.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Garda West Bank attractions

1. Museo di Salò

0.12 MILES

Opened in the mid-2010s and housed in an old monastery a block back from Salò’s ferry dock, Musa’s exhibits are split between a permanent collection that…

3. Santuario della Madonna del Carmine

2.06 MILES

The sanctuary of the Madonna del Carmine dates from 1452. Its simple Gothic-Romanesque exterior does little to prepare you for the technicolour frescoes…

4. Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

2.06 MILES

Poet, soldier, hypochondriac and proto-Fascist, Gabriele d'Annunzio (1863–1938) defies easy definition, and so does his estate. Bombastic, extravagant and…

5. Isola del Garda


It's not often you get to explore such a stunning private island, villa and grounds. Anchored just off Salò, this speck of land is crowned with impressive…

6. Parco Archeologico Rocca di Manerba

3.98 MILES

Protected by Unesco, the gorgeous 'rock of Minerva' juts out scenically into the lake just north of Moniga del Garda. The park contains the remaining low…

7. Museo della Carta

4.68 MILES

The Toscolano torrent upstream fed numerous paper mills in the Middle Ages and you can follow the riverside road up the wooded Valle delle Cartiere and…

8. Parco Baia delle Sirene

7.37 MILES

The privately owned Parco Baia delle Sirene rents sun loungers beneath the trees on Punta San Vigilio's beach. Entry is free at sunset.