In search of the hiding place of the brigand Zanzanù in the Droanello Valley
Short route


Departure: Lignago – Valvestino lake (508 m)

Arrival: Cùel di Zanzanù (650 m)

Difference in altitude: about 150 m

Travel time: 1 h (one way)

Difficulty: E (Excursionist)

Route: Trekking only

Notes: path not marked (only the beginning is indicated by a panel); be careful when crossing the stream.

The cartography is an extract from the map 4LANd n. 111 “Parco Alto Garda Bresciano”

The starting point for our itinerary is Lignago, on Lake Valvestino just before the second bridge coming from Gargnano. Here there is a plaque indicating the position of the old border between Italy and Austria-Hungary. It is possible to leave your vehicle in an open space to the left of the road where there is a notice board. Just before the bridge, we take the dirt road that leads to the Droanello Valley. We follow it uphill, first leaving another dirt road to the left, which descends towards the lake, then to the right again another dirt road, when the road flattens out, which leads first to Lignago and then to Costa.


For a good stretch, we proceed on a slight slope up to a small bridge closed to traffic (what we see is a water derivation work). A little further on, a nice sign indicates the beginning of the path (about half an hour) for the cùel di Zanzanù.

The Brescian mountains, sometimes difficult to access and rugged, have represented over the centuries an ideal refuge for bandits and brigands.


Giovanni Beatrice, known as Zuan Zanon and later as Zanzanù, was born in 1576 in Gargnano. He began to emerge at the beginning of the 17th century, following a ruthless feud between rival families. Robberies, extortion, kidnappings and murders littered his existence. These events led him to be ‘banished’ from society, to go into hiding and to be paid rich bounties. 


He lived for a long time in the wild hinterland of Garda, which he knew very well.


In August 1617, due to the kidnapping of Giovanni Cavaliere, who was guilty of not having paid what he requested from the brigands, the armed people of Tignale started to chase the bandits. Zanzanù and his accomplices were forced to flee into the woods and Cavaliere managed to escape and save himself. The pursuers got the better of them and the inhabitants of Tignale commissioned the painter Giovanni Andrea Bertanza to paint a picture narrating the killing of the brigand, which was then donated to the sanctuary of Montecastello, thus handing down the story of Zanzanù to posterity and turning it into a legend.


In the hinterland of Garda, there are many of the brigand’s hideouts that have been preserved. However, the real refuge, as the inhabitants of Cadria once confidently recounted, would be the “Cùel di Zanzanù” or “Covolo del Martelletto”, which we will discover on this itinerary.

We then cross the stream and follow the trail that rises in the wood.


We come to a crossroads at a meadow with aia carbonyl, used in the past for the production of coal, after about 10 minutes’ walk, at which we keep to the right and in about fifteen minutes we arrive at the ravine.

1. The lake of Valvestino.
2. The dirt road that leads to Costa di Gargnano, which we do not follow going straight on.
3. The beautiful panel indicating the entrance to the path leading to the cave of the bandit Zanzanù.

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