Why Desenzano del Garda?
Because it is one of the most important and famous towns on Lake Garda!
A city full of history and with a port that seems, to all intents and purposes, the pier of a seaside town. That’s why listing only three things to see in Desenzano is really an understatement.
To give you an idea of its importance, just know that here lies the oldest plow in the world in the fascinating Rambotti Museum. Furthermore, here too, you find one of the most important ancient Roman villas of all of Northern Italy.
But there is more! The town is also linked to many illustrious names. The famous poet Giosuè Carducci, for example, has been hosted several times in the eighteenth-century Girolamo Bagatta Lyceum. Just a few steps from the elegant Piazza Malvezzi.
Moreover, Saint Angela Merici was born here, a fundamental pillar for the Catholic Church. It is therefore undeniable that Desenzano is the ideal destination for those wishing to plan a historical-cultural trip.
The lakefront, the marina, the lighthouse and the colors that paint every corner of the center, bring to mind the feeling of being on an eternal holiday. The only difference will be the gentle breeze of Lake Garda, which replaces the fragrant salt wind.
Precisely for this reason, the village is special. You will feel like you are getting lost in a fantastic and unreal place but, at the same time, so lively, it will fill your heart with joy.
DISCOVERING AN ENCHANTED BEAUTY
Before showing you the three things to see in Desenzano, I would like to take you with me on an abstract tour. Just to create a faithful image of the entire village.
How to get to this place to visit on Lake Garda? You can choose between several ways. The different possibilities are by bus, by train or by car, you’re spoilt for choice.
If you travel by train, a steep descent will take you to the main downtown avenue. On your walk you will see a lot of colorful shops and typical bars. A distinctive feature of this lively town.
By car, you can easily reach the center and park in the main area of the town. The carparking is inside a green park, facing the lake.
If you arrive by bus the central Piazza Matteotti, the largest in Desenzano, welcomes you. Now you can decide: do you prefer a relaxing walk on the shores of the lake? Continue along the road and pass the enchanting bridge that allows you to enjoy a splendid view on the Lake Garda.
Remember that, like all lake villages, Desenzano has cozy beaches where you can swim and sunbath. I’d like to suggest Desenzanino Beach. This is the most loved beach by the locals, and you can easily reach it walking along the lakeside promenade.
Do you have children? Then I suggest you wander around armed with delicious italian icecream! This way you can have an idea of the various cultural, historical or religious points the city has to offer. This all being said, I think you are ready now to go on the discovery of what you should not miss. Even for a one-day visit, in Desenzano del Garda!
1. THE CASTLE
Going up some narrow-cobbled alleys that start from the center, you will finally begin to glimpse a tower of stone. Turning left, a small road will lead you to a breathtaking view and to the first of the three things to see in Desenzano. The imposing Castle.
From here, all of Desenzano will literally be at your feet. While on the horizon the silhouettes of the mountains will stand out against the deep blue of Lake Garda.
Do you know Desenzano Castle has a different history from all those located in other places to visit on Lake Garda? Read on to learn more.
The castle, in fact, has never become a military fortress, hosting through centuries only a few garrisons. Its important role was to offer shelter to the inhabitants of the town, in the event of a dangerous situation arise. In fact, within its walls, there were 120 house and the Church of Sant’Ambrogio.
The construction of the building dates back to 1400, in the Early Middle Ages, but lays its foundation on an ancient Roman castrum. This castle also houses a small amphitheater, where today are organized shows and evening events in this elegant atmosphere with soft light.
The castle is currently open to visitors, including the keep and the tower, from which the view extends even further.
Over time, numerous restoration works have been carried out, which have ensured an excellent conservation, although modifying the original architecture. The visit is pleasant and short-lasting, so you can absolutely dedicate part of your trip!
2. LIGHTHOUSE AND PICTURESQUE MARINA
The lighthouse of Desenzano, or “headlight” as it was nicknamed at the time, came into operation back in 1895. Initially, as a signal to the boats, there was an oil lantern, later replaced by electric lighting.
It’s irrelevant at which time of the day you will have the opportunity to pass nearby, the scenery will never lose its uniqueness and beauty. To reach it you must go towards the pier, near the port. Then you follow a small alley surrounded on the left by small cliffs of stones. Walking to the right you can admire the picturesque boats moored at the pier. Just next to the pier, you find the harbour from where the ferries leave to other towns.
Hold on, you are about to discover a fantastic detail about this place to visit on Lake Garda.
Despite being made of beige and grey bricks, you’ll be surprised how its coloring changes depending on the position of the sun. During the day, especially with a clear sky, you can see its true vivid color. During sunset, the stones will light up with a magnificent pink and orange.
If you continue to walk along the pier, you’ll reach a blind spot, surrounded by clear waters. There I suggest taking a panoramic photo. You’ll see, the result will be amazing and perfect for you holiday photoalbum!
Just before reaching the pier, looking out onto the bridge, you will see the Old Port, existing since 1200! This might be one of the most photographed harbours on Lake Garda so keep your camera ready!
3. THE ROMAN VILLA
Among the three things to see in Desenzano, the Villa Romana is certainly the most historically fascinating. The villa stands in the middle of a peaceful green area, far from the crowd, hidden in the streets behind the center. It is the most important testimony of Roman villa in the North of Italy.
Today, the Villa is an open-air museum for those who want to take a dip in the past, and precisely between the first century a. C. and the fifth century d. C. The structure was originally near the strategic Via Gallica, which connected Brescia to Verona, overlooking the lake.
You must know that anybody ever discovered the owner’s name. However, some people believe it belonged to the brother of Emperor Magnentius, the same from whom the name of “Desenzano” derives.
What makes this Roman villa so special? Read below, and you will understand why it is considered a place to visit on Lake Garda.
The magnificent mosaics still visible on the floors of the villa are what makes it so special. As much as all the other archaeological finds from different historical ages stored in the antiquarium.
For the historical importance that this testimony has, all the schools closest to the town organize trips, that kids usually appreciate and enjoy.
In fact, walking among statues of Dionysus and Heracles, ceramics, utensils and ancient shop windows, the past magically comes back to life. Exotic plants, palm trees and other shrubs surround the ancient remains.
These, by the way, were found only 100 years ago! That is why, despite being in ruins, every effort has been made to clean them up and keep them safe.
In addition to these three things to see in Desenzano, in order to plan your visit you must consider the city events too. First of all, remember that the weekly market of the village is on Tuesdays, while the farmer’s market, in Piazza Garibaldi, is every Thursday.
At the beginning of February is annually celebrated the patron Saint of Rivoltella, with the Festival of San Biase. In this occasion, music and food stands will animate the cold winter for three days.
The seasons in which the main events are concentrated are summer and autumn.
The Feast of Santa Maria Maddalena, at the end of July, includes a series of concerts, dinners, activities organized by volunteers and charity “gifts fishing”. Usually, it is held at the Cathedral and at the Oratory Paul VI.
During the summer season, do not miss the many evenings of open-air cinema, at the Castel of Desenzano. Among the most recommended events, I suggest you the enchanting Concert at dawn of Rivoltella, usually in August.
The Festa dell’Ospite and The Wine Fest of San Martino are also worth mentioning.
On August 15, generally, a great fireworks show is organized on the occasion of mid-August festival.
In Desenzano, a place to visit on Lake Garda, takes place a unique show of its kind that will make your immagination…fly. Keep reading.
Every year the blue sky is coloured with the colors of the Italian flag thanks to the great acrobatic show of the Frecce Tricolori! You will be left open-mouthed
Lastly, in November, the Castagnata d’Autunno in Piazza Matteotti awaits you for a snack in company, accompanied by a warm mulled wine.
At any time of the year, this town will have so much to give and will leave you so much to remember. So do not wait more, plan your departure now!