Lake Garda, some say, is almost as wide as the sea! It is the most
Italian in character compared to Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, with
the greatest range of hotels and water sports. On a narrow 4 kilometre
peninsula on the south side of this enormous lake sits, very snugly,
the quaint resort of Sirmione.
Sirmione derives from ‘syrma' or ‘train'
or ‘tail'. It is an extremely pretty walled town, in
the middle of which is Rocca Scaligera, a moated fortress with drawbridge.
Nearby can be found the porticoed church of Santa Maria Maggiore,
carved out of a feudal tower.
Sirmione has a pedestrian quarter with cobbled
streets lined with boutiques, cafés and cake shops. There
are many archaeological trails to follow which are extremely interesting
with magnificent scenery. Via Catullo leads along a rocky promontory,
through olive groves to the 8th century church of San Pietro in
Mavino. At the end of the peninsula lies the Roman archaeological
site known as Grotte di Catullo, which is linked to the poet Catallus
who died in Sirmione. The remains of ancient baths and vaulted disrobing
chambers are reminders that the local thermal springs have been
active since Roman times. Sirmione's spas now channel the
sulphurous springs into a range of dubious water cures.
Sirmione cultivates its own olives. Using special
techniques it harvests them and squeezes them to produce excellent
oil with wonderful aroma and taste. Sirmione also produces its own
white wine, ‘Lugano' which is often served with the
fish caught from Lake Garda. It's possible to visit the wine
producers and sample their wines in beautifully restored old ‘cascines'.