A fortress of the thirteenth century. Narrow alleys. The spa waters. On Lake Garda, Sirmione is a harmony of history and beauty
Viale Marconi, 2, Sirmione (BS)
Built for strategic purposes at the end of the thirteenth century, Rocca Scaligera in Sirmione is one of the best preserved castles in Italy, with its own quayside making it a rare example of fortification for port use.
A Roman and medieval museum of stone is housed in the castle’s large inner portico, together with a small exhibition giving the most important information about the fortress. A walk around the chemin de ronde of the castle walls is a must, as is climbing to the very top of the keep, the castle’s tallest tower, which offers spectacular views.
Sirmione spa waters are known for their preventive and therapeutic properties thanks to their sulphurous salso-bromo-iodic content.
The remains of a sumptuous Roman villa known as the Grotte di Catullo are in exceptional panoramic position, right at the far end of the Sirmione peninsula. Grottoes because the these old buildings look like a site of natural caves, and Catullo in honour of the Latin poet Catullus, who celebrated the beauty of this town.
At the entrance to the park, an antiquities museum displays not only a general plan of the villa, but also photos of the dig, restoration work and particularly interesting finds such as floor mosaics, objects in bronze and ceramic, fragments of plaster and frescos and a sculpture depicting the head of one of the Dioscuri. The Grotte di Catullo can be reached on foot with an hour’s walk through the old town centre and the last part of the Sirmione peninsula. There is an electric train service in the summer months.
Afterwards, visitors can relax on the nearby Giamaica beach, one of the most beautiful banks of Garda, with large smooth stones just breaking the surface of the lake, perfect for sunbathing and swimming in crystal-clear waters.