An ancient Roman villa on Lake Garda
On the extreme tip of the Sirmione peninsula on Lake Garda, you can find the remains of an imposing Roman villa named Grotte di Catullo. Covering an area of around two hectares, the ancient residence owes its name to the fact that, during the Renaissance, it was covered with earth and vegetation, which made the rooms resemble caves and natural hollows. The reference to Catullo (Catullus) originates from the verses that this famous Latin poet dedicated to Sirmione.
Archaeological excavations have brought to light a great deal of the villa, including the rooms, fragments of frescoes, colonnaded streets and an olive grove, which, with its 1,500 plants, is now open to visitors to admire them in all their splendour. The many remains that have emerged over the years are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Sirmione. The exhibition houses not only Roman artefacts, but also pieces from pile-dwelling sites, medieval times and the ancient town. However, the Pompeian-style frescoes, which decorated the villa’s interior, remain the main attraction.
After visiting, you can explore the historic centre of Sirmione, the undisputed pearl of Lake Garda, unsurprisingly celebrated by the likes of Stendhal, Lawrence and Goethe.