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Shortly after World War I Harry Battistoni left his home in Italy and immigrated to New Britain, Connecticut. He prospered in his new home and in the 1920's bought two farms. Inspired by Lake Garda from his childhood, Battistoni dammed a creek-Rose Brook-and created his own Lake Garda. He dreamed of creating a summer community with cabins and tent camping for families. Today his dream is a reality with family homes nestled along the wooded shoreline of beautiful Lake Garda.
After creating the lake, Battistoni built a clubhouse and established a lake association to collect dues and maintain the roads and facilities. In 1943 the property owners banded together to form the Lake Garda Improvement Association (LGIA). Several clashes including some litigation between Battistoni and the LGIA marred the lake's history, but eventually all were resolved. In 1998 years after Battistoni's death, the LGIA bought the Lake Garda Dam and some remaining property and currently manage and protect the lake and surrounding facilities.
There is lakefront real estate available for sale and anyone who purchases a home or lot on Lake Garda automatically becomes a member of the LGIA with all the inherent privileges and responsibilities. The responsibilities are minimal - just annual dues and abiding by the homeowner rules. The privileges are extensive and include access to the private lake from one of the boat ramps for fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking. There are also several beaches for homeowners including Battistoni Beach named in honor of Lake Garda's creator. In the winter ice fishing, skating and hockey are all popular with residents.
Lake Garda straddles the line between the communities of Burlington (Litchfield Hills region) and Farmington (River Valley region) with easy access to both towns. In fact, it is mandated by the LGIA that it have board members from both communities. The area that would become the Town of Farmington was originally settled by the Tunxis Tribe. European settlers moved into the area in 1640 and in 1645 the land was incorporated into the Town of Farmington. It included present day Burlington which wasn't separated out until 1721. Both towns still maintain their rich histories and small town charm. Lake Garda is in Hartford County near Unionville in the quiet central interior of Connecticut, and any amenities a visitor or resident might want are a short drive away including shopping, restaurants, and a variety of accommodations.
Nearby in Burlington, the Nassahegon State Forest has 1,352 acres to explore. Established in 1926, the forest is made up of mixed hardwoods and spruce and pine plantations. It is a fantastic place to bird watch or hunt, and there are trails for hiking across the forest.
With its lakefront homes, Lake Garda may have become more elaborate than Harry Battistoni's original dream of cabins and tent sites. With its beautiful water, caring community and wooded shore, however, it is still every bit his "paradise in the pines." Careful management by the Lake Garda Improvement Association ensures it will stay that way far into the future.
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