Lake Garda is amazing because even in the tiniest town like Cassone, where only 300 people live, you can find something unique. This is where the Aril River flows, considered for a long time the shortest in the world.
It is 175 m long and is not classified as a stream, but as a proper river because it originates from the underground spring and flows into the lake. In Indonesia and Norway there are even shorter rivers (20 m each), yet in Cassone there is a sign that proudly mentions Aril as the world record, though it would be fair to point out instead that it’s the shortest river in Italy.
However, there are good reasons for inhabitants of Cassone to be proud of Aril: the river is very useful. Aril springs from a protected lake, where even in the hottest days the temperature is around +9 °, and such cool water is perfect for fish breeding. That’s why trout in search of a quiet place for spawning go from the lake upstream to the spring.
In the past, the energy of this river was feeding two mills, an oil-press and a hydroelectric power plant, which worked from the end of the 19th century to 1913.
At Christmas, the inhabitants of Cassone create a unique floating Nativity scene right on the waters of the Aril River, and it’s one of the most beautiful and unusual in Italy.
The waters of the Aril River flow past the Lake Museum, located near the port. The museum has a collection of tools that were used in the past for fishing and navigation, while the pools near the museum are home to eels, chubs and trouts, because this building was once used as an incubator for hutchlings.
Cassone also left an unexpected trace in the world history of art thanks to the painting by Gustav Klimt, a famous Austrian artist. In 1913, he spent the summer on Garda with his girlfriend, the fashion designer Emily Klöge. The artist lived in Tremosine and sailed on the lake in search of interesting views. Instead of sketching, Klimt painted everything from life, and if a place attracted his attention, he would stop nearby and, watching from the water through a spyglass, start work.
A difficult fate would befall Klimt’s landscape “Church in Cassone”. The painting was bought by the steel magnate Victor Zuckerkandl, and inherited by his sister and graсed her salon in Vienna for many years. Before the war, for a huge bribe, the painting was sent away for safekeeping. The owners themselves did not survive, perishing in a concentration camp. After the war their heirs came to take the painting out from the storage, but it was empty!
Many years later, the disappeared painting was put for sale at Sotheby’s auction for 27 million pounds. The profits from the sale were divided equally between the heir of the first owners and the person who bought the painting, probably oblivious of the prior tragic history.