Sirmione, the pearl of Lake Garda
Our travel recommendations
“On the shining lake green Sirmio glows like a jewel,
The flower of all peninsulas.
Gazed at, caressed by the sun: like a mighty goblet of silver,
Benacus wide encircles it.
Fringed are the gleaming shores with quiet olives and copses
Of everlasting laurel-trees.”
Staying in Sirmione
Sirmione, known as the ‘pearl of Lake Garda’, lies on the southern shores of the lake. More precisely, it stands on a peninsula that reaches out into the lake for about four kilometres.
Renowned for its thermal waters since ancient times, Sirmione is a magical place abounding with nature, art and history. Its beauty has been praised by numerous writers, including Catullus, Stendhal, DH Lawrence and Goethe.
The ruins of the ancient Roman villa and Sirmione Castle are just two of the splendid monuments you can visit in Sirmione.
The old town is captivating, full of romantic views and picturesque settings amid its narrow lanes and stone walls.
Sirmione is not just a place for culture, but also for wellbeing. This is a place where you can enjoy the beneficial properties of its thermal waters.
And there is no shortage of places to unwind. Spend the day on the beach – there’s a public beach just a short walk from the hotel – where you can enjoy sunbathing or water sports, like windsurfing or sailing. In the evening, you can enjoy some fun in the numerous bars and clubs in the centre.
What to see in Sirmione
Grottoes of Catullus
The name ‘Grottoes of Catullus’ goes back as far as the 15th century, although it isn’t certain that this villa actually belonged to the Roman poet. Catullus was born in Verona in 87 BCE and died in Rome in 54 BCE. The rectangular building measures about 167 metres by 105 metres with two large avant-corps, one giving onto the lake and the other facing the peninsula.
The oldest and most southerly part of the villa could well date back to Catullus’s era. The Museum houses fresco fragments from the Marine scene and the Poet’s portrait, as well as other artefacts from the area, including a prehistoric and a medieval section of the ruins.
Sirmione Castle has a large harbour and enclosing walls that separate the village from the mainland. It was commissioned by the Lord of Verona, Mastino I della Scala, in the 13th century as a garrison and dock for his fleet of ships. You can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view over the lakes and hills, from the 37-metre-tall tower.
Church of San Pietro in Mavino
This is the oldest church in Sirmione, from the Lombard era, and was constructed on the highest point of the peninsula. It was rebuilt in 1320, whereas the bell tower is from 1070. Inside, you’ll find a cycle of paintings dating from 1321 and the main apse is dominated by the image of a brightly coloured Christ encircled by a painted frame.
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore dates back to the 15th century and has a colonnade façade where the most southerly column is a foundation stone dedicated to the emperor Julian the Apostate. It houses frescoes and a wooden statue of the Madonna dating back to the same period.
Church of Sant’Anna della Rocca
Once known as the Church of the Madonna del Ponte, it was built in the second half of the 1300s as a military garrison. It is made up of a presbytery and a small, covered chamber with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Inside, it is home to fresco remains from the 16th century and stucco decorations from the 17th century. You can also see a 14th-century fresco fragment above the altar.
Monastery of San Salvatore
Today only the ruins of the San Salvatore monastery are still visible. The monastery was built by Ansa, the wife of the last Lombard king, Desiderio.