Sirmione is a lovely little town (commune) situated on a small peninsula, just 4 kilometers long, that juts into the southern end of Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy. The school organized a trip for us to visit the town yesterday afternoon.
Sirmione became a favorite resort for rich families coming from Verona, starting all the way back to the 1st century!
The commune became a fortress in the 4th-5th centuries in order to defend the lower half of the lake. The fortress has a few of my favorite things such as a moat, a drawbridge, swans, and it also has a vey interesting walled area on the lake side where boats could enter and be protected. The fortressed area is really quite small making the town very cute!
Outside of the fortified area, on the farthest point of the peninsula, sits the remains of the “Grotto of Catullus” which was a massive villa owned by the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus and dates back to the 1st century. It is deemed the most striking example of a Roman private building discovered in northern Italy and measured 167 x 105 metres.
The town is also famous for its thermal springs and is considered a ‘spa town’ and is immensely busy during the summer season.
We went down to test the waters, only with our hands as the weather has turned quite cool. There is a strong smell of sulphur, as is typical with thermal pools, and I had a flashback to a fun visit to Iceland a few years ago!
Other notes of interest concerning Sirmione are that Alfred Tennyson wrote of the town in one of his poems, Ezra Pound and James Joyce met in the city, and Maria Callus had a villa in Sirmione (which still exists).
The day began rainy so we were fortunate that the clouds started to move off in the afternoon but the sky was still a bit overcast. I can only imagine how beautiful the lake is when the vista across to the other side is perfectly clear!
It was a lovely visit capped off with an adult beverage in the main piazza!