Limone sul Garda: Where to find the secret to a long life?

Fri Nov 6, 2015 8:22am EST
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By Nina Chestney

LIMONE SUL GARDA, Italy (Reuters) - The breathtaking beauty and sheer size of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, makes it a popular holiday destination for Italians and foreigners alike.

Picturesque towns line the lake's shores, making a tour of the entire 145-km (90-mile) shoreline a delight. But Limone sul Garda, on the narrower, more mountainous stretch of the lake to the north, is one of the most captivating.

"Limone" means "lemon" in Italian and the town was known for growing lemons and other citrus fruits. But the name is actually a coincidence as the town itself is much older than the lemon groves and the name could come from the Latin word for boundary.

Among the most striking features of Limone are the pillars and walls marking its shoreline that remain from gardens where lemons were grown. They were described by renowned German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the 18th century, bringing the town to the attention of an international literary audience.

Limone has another claim to fame. In the late 1970s, a former inhabitant was found to have a protein in his blood that removes fats from arteries and takes them to the liver where they are eliminated, thus warding off cardiovascular diseases.

After testing the inhabitants of Limone, it was discovered that all carriers of the gene were descended from one married couple in Limone in the 17th century. The gene is still being passed on, with more young carriers identified in Limone, and work to produce a drug based on the gene continues.

LEMON GROVES   Continued...

The pack of riders of the Giro D'Italia cycling race pass Lake Garda during the 20th 175 km stage from Predazzo to Madonna di Campiglio in this June 4, 1999 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer/Files