A narrow verdant peninsula juts into the southern end of Lake Garda. At its tip is
the ancient village of Sirmione, guarded by one of the world's most picturesque castles.
Perhaps because of the abundant thermal waters that bubble to the surface here, the town
has been almost continuously inhabited since the late 6th or early 5th centuries BC. As early as the 3rd century
BC, residents lived on stilt-borne houses erected above the shallows of the water. By the 1st century, Sirmione
had become a resort for rich Romans from nearby Verona,
then the most important city in northeastern Italy. Impressive ruins attest to the wealth of that era.
For over a thousand years, the little settlement fended off all manner of invaders, fiercely
defending its status as a free comune. Sometime in the 13th century the Scaligeri family,
who ruled the area from Verona, built the square-towered castle which dominates the town's waterfront
even to this day. Because it is surrounded on almost all sides by water, it is a most unique sight to
Today there's not much to see on the inside, but you'll get a marvelous soldier's-eye view of the lake
and the rooftops from the castle's ramparts. Closer inspection reveals the Scaligeri coat of arms, bearing
a ladder (scala).
A visit to Sirmione is well worth the short detour (it's only 4 km from the A4 Autostrada exit).
Before you stroll through the little village, pop into the tiny chapel by the fortress gate, where a shell-encrusted
Madonna has blessed departing sailors since time immemorial.
Nearby is the modest church of St. Anna and St. Gioacchino, where a charming 15th-century
fresco graces the portico.
Around the corner is an impressive belltower.
A delightful lakeside promenade departs from here, taking you through lush gardens where
the mild climate allows colorful flowers to thrive year-round. You'll also see some of the olive trees which
yield what many consider to be the world's finest oil.
If you'd like to visit Lake Garda, try the world-class spa treatments, or sunbathe on the beach, or enjoy the beautiful vistas on the lake, consider staying a few days in Sirmione.
Click on pictures to enlarge