Lake Garda, for a magical weekend
14 September 2022
In Sirmione, heavenly relaxation
History, art, nature and excellent cuisine come together at Lake Garda, making the experience of a holiday in this area unique and unmissable. Are you ready? The tour begins in the narrow streets of Sirmione, the town named by Catullo as "the pearl of the islands and peninsulas", famous for the healing properties of its thermal water, 36-degree pools and regenerative treatments.
Rising on the southern shore of the lake, on a peninsula dividing the gulfs of Desenzano and Peschiera, it has won over literary and cultural figures over the centuries. Stendhal and Goethe, for example, were big fans of this location.
From the Scaligero Fortress to the Church of San Pietro
Sirmione is not only an internationally renowned spa centre, which is in any case an extraordinary feature for those looking for a place where they can devote themselves to the care of their bodies and the wellbeing of their minds: the pearl of Lake Garda can also rely on a remarkable historical and artistic heritage, which makes it interesting even for those who prefer architectural beauty to the goodness of spa treatments and water therapies.
A must-see is an ancient Roman villa from the imperial age brought to life in the early 20th century in the archaeological area of the Catullo Caves and the Church of S.Pietro in Mavino, dating from around the 8th century.
The Rocca Scaligera is well worth the effort of the climb. In fact, Scaligero Castle, the access point to the historical centre, is also one of the best-preserved fortresses in Italy and definitely worth a visit.
A drink in Desenzano
To fully enjoy what Italy's largest lake has to offer, one idea is to travel to nearby Desenzano before sunset, where not only will you enjoy a postcard-perfect display that is even more impressive during the golden hour, but you will also have a wide choice of places to have an aperitif or restaurants to dine. Thereafter, the most densely populated municipality on Lake Garda is waiting for you for a walk to the medieval castle with its walls, which often hosts open-air theatre performances, guided tours and children's workshops.
Gardone and the Vittoriale degli Italiani
A day in Gardone Riviera is worthwhile, perhaps with a breakfast on the enchanting lakeside promenade. The view here is superb and provides postcard-perfect images of the snow-covered Monte Baldo landscape in winter.
In the morning, the obligatory stop is the Vittoriale degli Italiani. This was the villa that Gabriele d'Annunzio wanted and commissioned on the banks of Lake Garda and where the poet is buried. This ensemble of buildings, streets, squares, an open-air theatre and waterways was erected between 1921 and 1938 on the Brescia side of Lake Garda.
Another pearl of the Riviera dei Limoni is Salò, where the Republic of Salò was founded in 1943 and most of the fascist government ministries were moved, mainly because of its proximity to Nazi Germany. Nowadays, the Brescian town is famous for its delightful lakeside promenade and elegant shopping streets.