Warm summer breeze, small streets packed with boutique shops, bougainvillea blooming on ancient roman buildings: This is Sirmione. The small peninsula is in fact the gem of the Lake for the unique mix of culture, history and attractions it offers. Last but not least, it is also the homeland of Lugana, the wonderful white wine produced in this area.
Walking through the tiny streets of Sirmione you can literally inhale history. In fact the small burg was established during the Stone Age, when its inhabitants lived mainly out of fishing. Therefore, Sirmione was born as a fishermen village and this is not surprising since it is placed right on the southern shore of Lake Garda. During the Roman Empire, many wealthy families from Verona decided to settle down here, where they built some huge and amazing villas such as the impressive “Grotte di Catullo”. In the 12th century thanks to its strategic position, the village gained more and more military relevance.
This is the reason why the family Della Scala built here the wonderful Rocca Scaligera, from which the powerful signoria could control its enemies. The Rocca was then used by the Republic of Venice for the same military purposes. In the most recent times Sirmione has become an important tourist site thanks to its fabulous historic past, its spas and for sure its wine.
Even if Sirmione is pretty small, there is a bunch of things which are worth doing:
Built during the Middle Ages to protect the dominion of Della Scala family, this castle is the main landmark of Sirmione. It is then an exceptional example of fortress on the water and from its keep you can enjoy an outstanding view on the hills around the village and on Lake Garda.
Taking a boat trip around the peninsula is a good way to spend 30 minutes away from the crowd while marvelling at the beauty of Sirmione from a different perspective.
“Grotte di Catullo” are today the ruins of a huge Roman villa, which was 20.000 square meters big (around 215.000 square feet). It was built between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD and it owes its name to the Latin poet Catullo, who sang the beauty of Sirmione in his poems. 1.5000 olive trees surround the villa which is set on the most panoramic point of the whole peninsula.
Did you know that Sirmione is famous for its thermal water too? It wells up from the bottom of the Lake at a temperature of 70°C (158°F) and it is very reach in minerals such as sulphur and sodium. This is the reason why it is used for medical purposes as well as for beauty. Spending a day off in the thermal water of the terme di Sirmione is the perfect way to chill out.
If you are still not convinced that Sirmione deserves a place on your bucket list, just remember that it is also the heart of the Lugana wine region. The special microclimate combined with a soil rich in clay and minerals make this area the perfect terroir for the indigenous grape Turbiana. Often used in purity to produce very authentic wines, this grape variety makes up the main percentage in the production of Lugana.
What about taking a boat trip, having a bit of free time to wander around Sirmione and ending the day with a wonderful Lugana tasting and a delicious lunch? Then join us on a Lake Garda, lunch and Lugana tour! You will not be disappointed.