The name is said to originate from a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Only a plaque in her honour remains of the original building, which was probably located on the same site as the fortress. Evidence from numerous findings demonstrates that these areas were inhabited as early as the prehistoric era, and were also home to Roman settlements. Charlemagne issued a diploma in which he gave the monks of San Zeno in Verona rights to the areas dominated by the fortress built on the promontory; only thanks to this document, was it possible to trace the existence of that Fortress. Frederick I Barbarossa, who granted the Bishop of Verona rights to the land, also spent time in Manerba del Garda.
In 1426, Manerba entered the Venetian Republic, as part of the Valtenesi territory. With the arrival of the plague in 1630, the population was decimated, dropping from 1,550 people to a mere 703 by the end of the contagion. Nor was Manerba able to escape the terrible raids of the French troops during the War of the Spanish Succession.
Among the famous names of Manerba, there is the parish priest Alessandro Gualtieri who was greatly appreciated by the Austrian dominion for his efforts in opening a free grammar school, and who took care of agricultural issues with several noteworthy treaties. During Italian Unification, Manerba del Garda was witness to Giuseppe Garibaldi while he lurked in the fortress in order to study the movements of the Austrian troops.
THE PARISH CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA IN VALTENESI
Built around the year 1050, in Pieve Vecchia, this church stands on the ruins of a much older church. The Parish Church of Santa Maria in Valtenesi is the oldest Romanesque monument in the area. It features three naves divided by majestic arches resting on rectangular pillars. Only a few fragments of the original frescoes can still be admired while those of some Romagnol artists are found in the presbytery: a magnificent representation of the Annunciation appears on the triumphal arch and Christ between two angels is depicted on the vault. Worth every mention of honour is the 16th-century altarpiece of the high altar created by Gian Andrea Bertanza of Padenghe which depicts the Virgin and the Saints Rocco and Sebastian, Siro and Savino. Unfortunately this majestic work was victim to theft, destroying some of its parts. The recovered pieces were collected in some paintings.
In 1722 it was transferred from Pieve to Solarolo. The design belongs to the Architect Antonio Spazzi and construction began in 1746. Inside, in addition to the valuable frescoes on the vault and the quaint choir built entirely out of wood, you can also admire the paintings of Andrea Celesti: “Sant’Angela Merici” and “Assunta”.
THE CHURCH OF SAN GIOVANNI DECOLLATO (BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN)
It is situated in Solarolo near the Town Hall. Belonging to the Knights of Jerusalem, it was rebuilt in the 18th century with the artistic features of the late Baroque. Inside, you can admire the stucco decorations.
CHURCH OF SANTA LUCIA
Located in Balbiana and dating back to the 16th century. Composed of one nave with a remarkable round apse, it houses frescoes, true masterpieces of the 15th century, depicting the Virgin Mary and several Saints.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF THE ROCCA (THE FORTRESS)
The Archaeological Park of the Rocca-Sasso is an area of about 900,000 sqm, including the area of the Fortress and the underlying coastline between the towns of Dusano and Pisenze. The valorisation of the whole area, thanks to archaeological research and the restoration of the medieval buildings of the Rocca, included the implementation a remarkable archaeological and scenic tourist trail. From the Castle you can see the Lake and the whole surrounding territory intended predominantly as a natural reserve.