Have you noticed that narrow strip of land, that stretches towards north from the lower lake and divides the southern Lake Garda into two? Well, that is the peninsula of Sirmione (Sirmiù, in Brescian dialect) and the boundary line between Veronese and Brescian waters.
Sirmione is located between Desenzano and Peschiera and certainly owes its fame to its privileged one-of-a-kind position. Not surprising at all that this narrow piece of land, surrounded by emerald waters, is widely known as Sirmione, the Pearl of Lake Garda. The peculiarity of its landscapes, the properties of its thermal waters, the architectural remains of the past… They all make Sirmione a sought-after and immediately recognisable destination.
Sirmione the pearl of Lake Garda
The imposing Scaliger Castle, like a true host, will welcome you at the entrance of the old town.
This construction is a rare example of a medieval lake fortification and one of the best-preserved castles in Italy. We highly recommend visiting the castle inside, a great opportunity to admire the amazing 360 degrees view on the lake from one merlon to another.
On the leftside of the castle you will see a drawbridge, which is still the main entrance to the village. Once you have crossed the drawbridge of this Scaliger fortress, you will be arrived in the heart of Sirmione. Known for its buzzing atmosphere, flowery corners, colorful houses and small boutiques.
The best way to explore Sirmione? Losing yourself in its colours and scents!
Another detail we recommend paying attention to are the huge blossoms of violet bougainvillea, clung to the buildings of the old town. Keep your telephone and camera ready to capture this beautiful setting.
What to visit in Sirmione
The Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, while going back to its beloved Sirmione, once wrote:
« Sirmio, jewel of islands and of peninsulas,
Whatever each Neptune carries
In the stagnant clear waters and in the vast sea,
How gladly and how happy I see you »
We suggest you approach the Grotte di Catullo (Caves of Catullo) with the same spirit as this poem! This landmark is located in a panoramic position at the far end of the peninsula. Throughout the years many scholars assumed the villa had belonged to the poet and the buried remains, covered by vegetation, looked just like caves. Reason why it has been named Caves of Catullo. It is interesting to know that this archaeological complex is considered the most important example of Roman villa in northern Italy.
Not far from the busy town you will find the Chiesa di San Pietro in Mavino, the most ancient church in Sirmione. A jewel hidden in a silent surrounding, with olive trees and the sound of lapping waves. Thanks to its isolated position, it turned out to be the perfect home for the hermit who lived here until the mid-nineteenth century.
What to do in Sirmione
The water of Sirmione
When you think of Sirmione you will probably also think of its thermal sources. The water of these sources is very well known for its healing properties. Your visit will not be complete until you have inhaled the characteristic sulfur scent. Are you among those in love with wellness treatments? Then, we recommend to visit Aquaria.
For a more authentic experience, we challenge you to find the thermal water source close to Lido delle Bionde and to relax in it. Don’t worry, it is easily recognisable, being it bounded by a stone circle retaining the sulfurous water and it is hard to find it deserted.
But be careful: temperatures may get really high!
Beaches in Sirmione
The best way to enjoy your time in Sirmione still remains visiting its free beaches, said to be among the most beautiful of the lake. Lido delle Bionde is the most known of them, characterised by the iconic pier, which, during summer, gets filled with bathers and colourful beach towels. Jamaica Beach, Sirmione’s “wild” and tropical beach at the tip of the peninsula, is definitely a must-visit! Also loved by those who take the boat to Sirmione!
Only downside: these two beaches are rather small; therefore, you should consider that finding place in high season may be challenging.
We also recommend swimming and chilling out at Punta Grò, Punta Staffalo and Lido Brema: you won’t be disappointed!
Events in Sirmione
Sirmione is always offering new and interesting events dedicated to sports, music, history, arts, theatre, and food and wine lovers. If you’re a sportsperson you should participate at the Festa dello Sport at the municipal sports centre. It is held every year in June, and it includes tournaments, exhibitions, races and sports games, accompanied by music and food stands.
If you are eager to taste something typical, we recommend the Sardinata and the Aolata: two lake fish barbecue and sampling events, held in July. In August, Sirmione makes room for the romantic types! “Quando le stelle vanno a dormire” (When the stars go to sleep) and “Con il naso all’insù” (With the nose pointed up) take always place at the Spiaggia delle Muse. They are two unmissable events to greet the stars with live music by the lake, surrounded by the mountains around and armed with telescopes!
Sirmione has two weekly markets. One takes place on monday morning in Colombare di Sirmione, the other takes place on friday morning in Lugana di Sirmione. Like other typical italian markets it is a great opportunity to stroll around and find local products, clothing, accessories at the best price as it is easy to haggle!
Excursions to Sirmione
Every year, from May to October, GardaLanding organises trips and excursions to discover Sirmione, the pearl of lake Garda and other gorgeous locations on the lake. Beside the tour around the peninsula, Sirmione itself offers a wide selection of boat tours of different durations.
You don’t want to limit yourself to Sirmione? Then we recommend our Garda Lake Tour, a bus trip through four locations on the lake, which also includes a small boat trip. Instead, for a boat excursion along the southern shore with stops to have a swim, our South Garda Lake Tour is at your disposal.
For further information:
Writing about Sirmione doesn’t completely do justice to its beauty. That’s why we’d rather mention 3 famous personalities who were lived here, chose it as the place of their soul or… got stuck in it! Why don’t you try and discover its beauty through their words or stories?
3 RENOWNED (PSEUDO-) INHABITANTS OF SIRMIONE
- GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS: Roman poet of the first century BC, who was born right here. The villa you can see today at the Grotte di Catullo was built after his death, therefore it is unlikely that the poet lived here.
- MARIA CALLAS: opera singer, who fell in love with Sirmione in 1952 and is still today invisibly present in its streets and palaces. In a letter she wrote: “I’d like to end my days in Sirmione and be buried in this heaven on earth”. Some say her ashes were stolen from a cemetery in Paris and scattered in Lake Garda
- THE GHOST OF EBENGARDO: during stormy nights, he wanders in the castle of Sirmione in search of his beloved Arice, killed by the knight Elalberto. Believe it or not, he is still a feared and respected inhabitant of the village. We have decided to mention him because, you know, you can never tell with ghosts…