Extensive studies have proven that these places were inhabited during the Roman era. According to tradition, St. Francis of Assisi founded the first Roman monks dormitory here. After the destruction of the ancient castle of Scovolo, which occured when the dominators from Brescia deprived the Veronese of the Valtenesi territory, the population migrated to Portese and to San Felice, where they built the castle of San Felice (St. Felix). The town was the stage of many conflicts and settlements, including French and German. During the War of Succession for the throne of Spain, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, San Felice suffered the passing-through of the armed forces, forced to supply lumber, without being spared episodes of violence and oppression.
Built following the migration of the population of the Valtenesi area to San Felice, in 1438 the castle was the residence of the Visconti of Piccinino, who raided the Brescia area. After its restoration in 1483, in the early 500s, it was destroyed by the troops of Louis XII. When the Venetians took over possession of the territory again, the castle was once again built anew (1521). Today, you can see the corner tower built entirely of bricks.
PALAZZO ROTINGO (ROTINGO PALACE)
This 18th century building seems to have undergone a radical transformation on the external side, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Inside, you can admire the carefully decorated coffered wooden ceilings, stucco decorations and frescoes on the walls.
This 16th-century Parish Church of Saints Felix and Adauto holds particular importance. With its Baroque style interiors, you can admire frescoes by Carlo Carloni and Giosuè Scotti and the altarpiece by Romanino. Outside, the majesty of the bell tower will take your breath away. It is isolated from the structure, as it was built from the remains of the walls of one of the towers in Scaligero Castle, of which only a few ruins remain. Our attention is then captured by two Roman areas, one of which is dedicated to Neptune, located on both sides of the left-hand portal.
MONTE DI PIETÀ
In the characteristic centre, we find buildings full of art and culture, such as Monte di Pietà, built in 1570, now the building that houses city hall. The arcade has five characteristic ashlared stone arches, while the windows have solid grilles installed for defence purposes.
SANCTUARY OF MADONNA DEL CARMINE (OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL)
In 1952, the Carmelite community of Vittorio Veneto took over the original church and the remains of the convent, restoring it to its original splendour. The complex is divided into two units: the convent itself, the rest stop for pilgrims and the social-cultural centre. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated in the sanctuary every July 16.
CHURCH OF SAN FERMO
Closing off the northern part of the gulf, San Felice gives us the fascinating Church of St. Fermo, dating back to the 15th century, which was erected on the remains of an imposing Roman villa. The Church has a characteristic gabled roof, while the interior, consisting of a single hall, features a fresco dating back to the fifteenth century, depicting San Fermo. During excavations, remains of its mosaic floors and fragments of painted plaster were found. The peninsula of San Fermo provides the opportunity to admire the beautiful Island of Garda.
ISLAND OF GARDA
The Island of Garda is the largest of the Benaco islands, facing San Fermo. It has been inhabited since ancient times, based on the discovery of remains. In the 13th century, it became a place of Franciscan prayer and, according to tradition, it also provided hospitality Dante Alighieri. In later centuries, the island underwent several transfers of ownership, until the early 1900s. In those years, the noble De Ferrari family of Genoa built a majestic Palace in Venetian Gothic style on the ruins of the old convent. Later, the island became property of the Cavazza family, who is still the owner today.
It was built in the early Middle Ages to defend the territory and inhabitants against invaders; the ruins of a circular tower is what remains today. The municipal library is located to the left of the entrance, and, the headquarters for the Alpine group of Portese to the right.
THE PORTESE PARISH CHURCH
It was built in 1585, as stated on a plaque above the main door. It is dedicated to the birth of St. John the Baptist. Its interior is richly decorated with white, red and black marble that make the church even brighter.
PALAZZO COMINELLI (COMINELLI PALACE)
It was erected in the 17th century by the Cominelli family of Salò. The writer and poet, Raffaele Cominelli (lived and died in Cisano in 1981), established an eponymous cultural foundation. Inside the palace, you can admire stucco decorations on the walls and floral paintings.
THE CHURCH OF SAN GIOVANNI (ST. JOHN)
It was built in the 15th century and dedicated to the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, celebrated every five years with a procession through the streets of the village. Its interior houses several canvases depicting various saints and the plaster statue of the Saint that the church is dedicated to, with the inscription in Latin "ecce agnus dei" (behold the Lamb of God).