Lake Garda, and especially the shores around Gargnano, still offer visitors examples of architectural structures unique to this area, bearing tangible witness to an era, and to a civilisation: the limonaie. These greenhouses were built for growing lemons, and for centuries they shaped Gargnano's economy as well as its appearance.
They made it possible to cultivate citrus at this latitude (the northernmost in the world). In 1840 Gargnano saw the constitution of the “Società Lago di Garda”, Italy's first agricultural cooperative, for the harvesting, grading and marketing of this precious produce, which was exported all over Europe, even to Russia.
Citrus cultivation reached its peak in 1850-1855 when Gargnano was home to around half the limonaie along the entire eastern shore of the lake. The decline of the trees due to the disease gummosis, competition from southern Italy following the unification of the Kingdom of Italy, and above all the discovery of the chemical synthesis of citric acid, gradually led growers to abandon this activity in favour of olive cultivation.