BARDOLINO, VERONA PROVINCE
Bardolino, Province of Verona, Veneto Region, Italy. Located 30 km northwest of Verona, on a hill along the shores of Lake Garda. In the past it was mainly a fishing and agricultural center.
In the last few decades the economy centered on tourism and sports, with a growth of hotels, restaurants and trattorie, vacation rentals. The hills were cultivated with vineyards since prehistoric times, and give a widely renowned wine, the Bardolino, made until the 19th century by fermenting the must in holes in impermeable rock strata covered by stone slabs, from a mixture of grapes: the Corvina, Molinara and the Negrara.
Prehistorical remains show that the area was inhabited by man, living on stilt houses. There are also remains od Roman times, but the first mention of the place was at the time of king Pipinus, 8th century AD, who donated the local church of San Zeno to Verona. In the 9th century the castle was built, and later under the Scaligeri family the fortress enclosed the whole town.
In the 15th century it was conquered by the Venetian Republic, which established a confederation among the 10 towns of the eastern shore of Lake Garda, under the name of "Gardesana dell'Acqua", ruled by a magistrate called "Capitano del lago". At the time Bardolino was the center of the Venetian lake fleet. In 1797 it followed the destiny of Venice, given to Austria by Napoleon, and only in 1866 it was included in the Kingdom of Italy.
This picturesque town located on the Verona provincial banks of Lake Garda, and has maintained a comb layout and architectural structure typical of fishing villages. Today the major economy is supported by tourism instead of fishing.
The fame of Bardolino is connected to the DOC (controlled designation of origin) wine with the same name that is appreciated in locally and abroad. This wine is the fruit of a fertile and generous soil and the mild climate of the area. Bardolino is the realm of water sports, mountain-biking, road biking, and trekking. The is the ideal place for relaxing walks and adventurous excursions in the hilly hinterland.
Switching to the pleasures of good eating, the cuisine of Bardolino is supported by the traditional agricultural economy and its typical products, such as oil, fish and wine, which are served in fine restaurants at the port or in the cosy trattoria's of the countryside. However, the flavour and taste experience is even more interesting along the Bardolino wine route: Here the cellars ritually open their doors, to both connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs for wine tasting and food events.
BIKE TOURING LAKE GARDA TO VERONA | VENETO REGION
Sign posted bike route that is the first leg of the Veneto Regions bike touring itinearies. The route takes you from Italy's largest lake, through the wine areas, and over to the city of Verona. If you plan your vacation well you could catch an Opera at the Arena during the summer months. This is a great ride with some small hills but there is multipule things to do and see.
BIKE TOURING LAKE GARDA TO VERONA ROUTE NOTES
- DISTANCE: 53 km long route
- START POINT: Pescheria del Garda
- ENDING POINT: Verona
- ELEVATION GAIN: 90 meters
- AVERAGE % GRADE: 3%
Starting in the old city of Pescheria del Garda take the main road north through Lazia, Bardolino and then Garda, the town that gives the lake its name. From Garda make you way to the Camaldolese Hermitage, it is still run by a small community of Benedictine Monks. You are still riding through the Bardolino wine-yards and olive groves, hidden in the fields is the Church fo San Severo. To get to the Adige Bike Path from here you can either ride past the Riviera degli Olivi or go down towards Pastrengo, passing through the village of Calmasino. The first option you find Rivoli Veronese, an urban area on the southern slopes of Monte Baldo known as the 'morainic amphitheatre'. The area was the part of the battle ground during Italy's 'First War of Independence' and still hosts forts built by the Austrians, to defend the Adige valley.
From Rivoli you head in the direction of Verona enjoying a nice bike path and a view of the Valpolicella wine region. Valpolicella is well known for its Amarone and Recioto wines. Along its route you will pass the towns of Pescantina and Bussolengo, which were once important river ports. Verona can be accessed over the dam in Chievo, at the end of the bike path, you will come to a path running along the dam and from here you can start your ride around the city. Verona combines a millennium of history with contemporary art. (Overnight Verona)
SECTION 1 GARDA TO RIVOLI VERONESE
SECTION 2 RIVOLI VERONESE TO BUSSOLENGO
SECTION 3 BUSSOLENGO TO VERONA
Bike Touring Verona - Peschiera del Garda to Malcesina
A 52 km path that starting, from the center of Peschiera arrives to the center of Malcesine, will make you discover the variety of scenery and landscapes offered by the Riviera degli Olivi on Lake Garda. It starts from a coastal environment by the waters of the lake and then switch to a hilly area rich of vineyards and olive groves, crops that have made this a popular tourist destination in the world. From here, an easy ascent leads at the top of the Rocca above Bardolino and Garda, before descending again to the lake near the beautiful Punta San Vigilio. The route then connects to the historic path of the Pellegrino and arrives to Malcesine, through woods and ancient villages alternated with stretches with beautiful panoramic views of the blue lake. This path can be done by mountain bike or on foot from any town of the Riviera with direction north or south using the various access roads. Of course, the journey can be covered in a day or in stages, using, in whole or in part, also the public transport (bus or boat).
BIKE TOURING THE OLIVE GROVES OF LAKE GARDA ROUTE NOTES
CHECK POINTS - Peschiera del Garda - Lazise - Bardolino - Garda - Torri dei Benaco - Brenzone sul Garda - Malcesina
- Distance - 52 km
- Lenght - 5/6 hours (bike) 12 h (trekking)
- Level difference - 292 m
BRENZONE, VERONA PROVINCE
Situated on the Eastern bank of Lake Garda, Brenzone is a town with Roman origins and has sixteen hamlets. Castelletto, Magugnano, Porto and Assenza are the largest towns overlooking the lake. These areas have kept the urban layout typical of fishing villages around a port.
The economy of Brenzone was once supported by small fisheries but today tourism is the lake's main resource. In fact, this splendid town on the Riviera of Olives has hotels, residential hotels, and camp sites as well as numerous restaurants where it is possible to enjoy delicious fresh water fish.
In land area of a few kilometres Brenzone goes from the banks of the lake to the two thousand meters of Mount Baldo, offering various Hiking and Mountain Bike trails. The crystal clear waters of Lake Garda and the constant winds of Brenzone also make the place ideal for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing.
Brenzone is famous for the production of fine PDO (protected designation of origin) extra virgin olive oil.
Other interesting places to visit including the Roman Church of Saint Zenobius (San Zeno) at Castelletto, the chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas in the hamlet of Assenza, the charming uninhabited medieval quarter of Campo, while traces of ancient castles are still visible in Campo and Biasa.
There is great biking all around Lake Garda with the base of one of Italy's hardest road bike climb's called Punto Veleno
There is hiking above the town on Mt. Baldo and a couple of climbing sites in the hills.
Things To See
- Antico Borgo di Campo (Stone Village)
- Chiesa di San Nicola
- Chiesa di San Pietro in Vincoli
- Chiesa di San Antonio Abate
- Chiesa di San Zeno
- Oleificio (Oil Mill)
- Museo Etnografico
Tourist Office - via Zanardelli, 38 - Frazione Porto - tel. 045/7430076
GARDA, VERONA PROVINCE
Located on the eastern shore of the lake the town of Grada has elegant Venetian-style buildings and some of the most extensive beaches of the Riviera of Olives which make charming resort area.
The Gulf is closed to the north by Mount Luppia, that dips into the lake and forms the enchanting Punta San Vigilio and to the south by the Rocca hill, which can be reached by taking an arduous path that is characterized by the flora of the Mediterranean. In medieval times, the castle of Garda stood on the Rocca, this was a very important castle, so much so that the ancient Latin name of the lake "Benacus" was changed to Lake Garda.
An easy path of about three kilometres leads to the romantic cliff of Punta San Vigilio, an oasis of peace and poetry that has inspired prestigious guests.
The alleys in the center of Garda, once inhabited by fishermen, now house elegant shops and cosy restaurants that prepare fresh water fish, the main ingredient of the local cuisine. The many hotels, residential hotels and a modern congress building make this a popular resort for tourists.
This area offers many different activities that can make for an active vacation, including sports, walks and interesting cultural activities. Even the traditional festivals affirm the deep ties that this area has with fishing. The "Palio delle Contrade" is a picturesque regatta of traditional rowing boats held in Mid-August, while the Sardellata al Pal del Vò, held in July, is an evening of fishing for sardines followed by a dinner on a boat in the middle of the lake.
HISTORY OF GARDA
In prehistory man lived here in stilt houses, and remains were found near the Rocca, and later archeological findings of the Bronze Age are abundant in the area called Sabbionara; also graffiti were discovered in Mount Luppia, which go back to at least 2000 BC.
In Roman times Garda was probably a castrum, as shown by the regular street plan with one main street connecting the entrance and exit doors, and all the other alleys following a perpendicular pattern.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the place became a strategic stronghold as shown also by its name, which is of Germanic origin and means fortress, which was extended to the whole lake replacing the Latin name of Benacus Lacus. In the year 888 AD the Rocca was the prison of queen Adelaide of Borgogna, who was helped to escape by a local friar. In 1162 the fortress was able to stop the army of Emperor Frederick Redbeard for over a year.
In the following centuries it was a theater of civil strife as Verona and other Italian cities, until in 1277 it came under the control of the Scaligeri family. In 1387 passed under the Visconti of Milan and in 1405 was conquered by the Venetian Republic, which established a confederation among the 10 towns of the eastern shore of Lake Garda, under the name of "Gardesana dell'Acqua", ruled by a magistrate called "Capitano del lago".
In 1452, the "Corporazione degli Antichi Originari" was established, which bought the exclusive right for the fishermen of Garda, Torri and Sirmione to fish in the lake, a right which is still preserved today, since the descendants of the fishermen auction the fishing rights every year, sharing the revenue with the members of the corporation.
In 1797 with the Napoleonic invasion the Venetian rule ended; in 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned the area to the Regno Lombardo Veneto, a kingdom ruled by a viceroy appointed by the Austrian monarchy.
The Italian Risorgimento was very strong in this part of Italy, and in 1848 the king of Sardinia Carlo Alberto Savoy met at the villa Albertini, in Garda, the representatives of the towns requesting inclusion in the Kingdom of Piedmont. Only in 1866, however, Garda became part of Italy.
HIKING LAKE GARDA - BARDOLINO EREMO DEI CAMALDOLESI
Starting from the fire station in Bardolino follow the Lake promenade towards Garda. Immediately after the camping Continental, turn right into the road leading to the regional road. Go past this and go uphill to the base of the castle rock, where you turn right now. After 400 meters on the right you will find the Institute Tusini of the Salesians. Here turn left into a path that will lead you directly to the castle rock, San Giorgio, where is the Hermitage of the Camaldolese monks and then continue to the Rocca Vecchia.
After admiring the landscape, continue walking until you reach the pass between the two castle rocks. Here you can choose between two options: either you go up to Bardolino on the same route, you have committed going uphill, or you go to Garda on the path that leads you at first to the Madonnina del Pigno and then, passing behind of the parish church of Garda, to the lake. To Bardolino, you can either go back on foot, following the lakeshore towards south, or by public bus, after a visiting tour of the village.
HIKING LAKE GARDA - BARDOLINO EREMO DEI CAMALDOLESI ROUTE NOTES
Bardolino - Mure - Rocca - Eremo - Madonna del Pign - Garda - Bardolino
- Distance - 9,5 km
- Lenght - 3,5 h (trekking)
- Level difference - 282 m
HISTORY OF VENETIAN RULE IN SIRMIONE
Since 1197 the peninsula became subdued to the town of Verona, then to the Scaligeri, taking on a significant importance due to the control exercised by the castle, which held a garrison. The building, which can be admired still today, is the work of the Scala family, while the existence of a fort before their domination is attested by more than one document.Completely surrounded by water, the castle overlooks the lake from its keep, the higher tower. The date of the building is complex. The analysis of the masonry have led to the identifications of three phases, the first dates back to Mastino I della Scala (XIII c.), the second to the early fourteenth century, the third to half fourteenth century., when the harbor was fortified. The core consists by the four main courtyard enclosed by curtains, by the three corner towers and by the keep.
The castle is connected to the church of Santa Maria del Ponte, also known as the Oratory of the Blessed Virgin at the Bridge, but it’s called St. Anne by the inhabitants of the village, which has identified, without any basis, the figure depicted in the fresco with the Virgin's mother since immemorial time. The church, considered by some people the chapel of the garrison stationed at the castle, consists of a room with a barrel vault and a presbytery. In the fifteenth century was a small chapel, probably a little sanctuary as it’s shown by the fragment of the fourteenth-century fresco above the altar.In 1387 the dynasty of the Scala went down with Antonio and Verona gave way to the two powers between which it was narrowed: Venice and Milan. Sirmione began a fast turnover of Lords, until in 1405 the long Venetian rule began, and it lasted until 1797.
The Venetian Republic dominated the Garda Lake by a Lake’s Captain, living in Malcesine. The domination over the waters, however, did not coincide with the territorial one: Riva and its territory belonged to the Bishop of Trent, while the Lion of St. Mark's stood up on the lands of the provinces of Verona, among which there were Peschiera, Sirmione and Brescia.
During the centuries of Venetian rule the history of Sirmione is poor of evidences. It’s the story of a small quiet village inhabited within the bridge by fishermen-growers, while in the countryside the peasants were engaged in the cultivation of grapes and mulberries. In 1530 there were 1155 inhabitants, then decreased for epidemics. The town was troubled for centuries by the strifes between the so-called "originals", which boasted an ancient lineage, and the newcomers, or "foreigners", about the management of communal property, from which the latter were excluded up to 1780. The community was governed by a board elected by the "vicinia", i.e. one class of citizens who enjoyed special rights about the communal property. Despite the poverty of the majority, in the Venetian period the great estates, that relied on the master estate, asserted themselves. An important witness of their former greatness remains in the hinterland, the Onofria dairy farm.
The long Venetian domination ended in 1796 when Napoleon entered the Veneto to unleash an offensive against the Austrians. He conquered Venice in 1797, but later, with the Treaty of Campo Formio, he ceded it to Austria in exchange for Belgium and Lombardy. The Austrian army entered Venice in 1798. Napoleon regained Venice and ruled from 1806 to 1814, when he was expelled again by the Austrians. In 1848 Venice revolted under the leadership of Daniele Manin, but the Austrians returned in 1849 and they stayed up to 1866, when Austria ceded Venice and the Veneto to the king of Italy. On that date the municipality of Sirmione regained its territorial unity, broken in 1859, after the second war of independence. In fact, the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Savoy ran up to the building called "Old Customs", which contains the name of its former function.
LAZISE, VERONA PROVINCE
Lazise, Province of Verona, Veneto Region, Italy, is located along the eastern shores of Lake Garda, 23 km west of Verona, and has a fine castle and port. It is today a lively tourist center, with hotels, boarding houses, home rentals, a camping site managed by the townhall, right in the historical center of the town.
The town, whose name is derived from the Latin word lacus, has very ancient origin, it was a stilt huts settlement, later a Roman castrum, and an important medieval fortress. From 888 and 961 the kings of Italy Berengarius I and Berengarius II granted it the title of free town, independent of feudal lords, so it was the first free commune in Italy. Following emperors, though establishing feudal rule over the town, still allowed it to maintain a relative freedom of trade and military organization.
During the 13th and 14th centuries Lazise was under the Scaligeri of Verona who built the rocca and the docks. In 1405 it was conquered by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, and soon after by the Republic of Venice. Under Napoleon it was included in the Cisalpina Republic, but the Congress of Vienna (1815) delivered the town to the Austrian dominion. Only in 1866, after the third war of independence Lazise was again Italian territory.
MALCESINE, VERONA PROVINCE
Malcesine, Province of Verona, Veneto Region, Italy, the name of the town derives from Mala Silex meaning bad stone, probably in connection to the steep crest where it is situated, from the lake level to the top of the Monte Baldo. At 54 km from Verona, it is the northernmost commune in the province along the shores of Lake Garda. It was a favorite destination of writers and artists, such as Gustav Klimt, who painted here in 1913 some of his most famous landscapes, and Goethe who was almost arrested as a spy when he was admiring the imposing castle. Today it is a lively tourist and cultural center.
Dominated by an elegant castle, Malcesine is a magical place with unforgettable panoramas.This romantic town located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda has inspired renowned celebrities like Goethe who stayed here during his trip to Italy. The within the small medieval town center the promenade along the lake is dotted with restaurants and shops while the old streets wind their way up to the Scaliger Castel. The Scaliger Castel stands out from the rocky buttress with its high tower, which was a Lombard settlement rebuilt by the Scaliger family. Today the Castel is home to an interesting Natural History Museum dedicated to the Lake Garda area and the flora and fauna heritage of Mount Baldo.
If you want to enjoy breathtaking views, take the very modern Malcesine Mount Baldo cable way. From its rotating panoramic cable cars you can see a sudden transition from the Mediterranean flora with its olive groves and oleander gardens to the flora of the mountains. Moving from the Lake which has an elevation of around 100 meter above sea level to Mt Baldo with an elevation of 2000 meter.
If in winter the ski slopes of varying difficulty allow descent accompanied by the splendid view of the blue lake, in the summer the bay of Malcesine is filled with colourful sailboats, kite and windsurfing, while the dirt tracks and trails of the countryside are a considered some of the best in Europe for hikers and mountain bikers.
PESCHIERA DEL GARDA, VERONA PROVINCE
A fortress city in the shape of a pentagon Peschiera del Garda is a jewel of architecture, art and culture placed at the southern end of the "Riviera of the Olives", the classical name of the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Sitting just 25 km west of Verona, the town rises where the Mincio river leaves the lake. The course of the water was changed to build the fortress, making three separate canals which surround Peschiera and then join again south of the town. Today the area is included in the Mincio Natural Park, whose fascinating landscapes can be enjoyed also thanks to a long cycling route following the course of the river from Peschiera. The economy today mostly based on tourism and wine production, especially the Lugana white wine.
A transit point between the Alps and the Po Plain, Peschiera was always of great strategic importance and a trade center. Human settlements on stilt houses were found in many areas, at least seven villages, in 1851, by German archeologists Keller and von Sacken, who named from the area a period of the Bronze Age, the Peschiera-Zeit.
In Roman times there was vicus named Arilica, described by Plinius the Elder for its wealth of fish, which probably gave rise to the town's coatofarms, two eels with a gold star. At the time of the Barbarian invasions, Pope Leo I stopped here Attila in 492. In the 8th century the name was changed to Peschiera. In the following centuries the town followed the destiny of Verona, and was a key center in the city's military system. In 1387 it was conquered by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Milan and son of Regina della Scala, then in 1440 Francesco Sforza delivered it to the Venetian Republic. From 1549 the town was surrounded with defensive walls, following a plan design by Guidobaldo della Rovere, and later Michele Sammicheli and Anton Maria Lorgna.
The wall system is an example of military architeture among the most complex in Italy, with the further feature of being surrounded by waters. In 1815 the congress of Vienna delivered Peschiera to the Austrian Empire, who turned it into one of the four corners of a strategic system of defence. In 1866 it was included in the Kingdom of Italy.
It was first part of the Lombard territory and then it became the domain of the Scaliger and Visconti families. Under the domain of the Serenissima Republic of Venice in the 16 th century Peschiera assumed its urban structure with the building of the Fortress and the surrounding walls, built by Michele Sanmicheli. Today, the bastions and alleys of the old town are home to shops, hotels and fine restaurants that delight the palates of visitors with plates belonging to the gastronomic traditions of Garda, such as "Bigoli with sardines" and Risotto with carp which is best served with Lugana, a DOC white wine.
The surrounding countryside is full of vineyards where you can bike along the long and winding cycle track that connects Peschiera to Mantua. Great place to walk or bike throughout the year.
RIVA DEL GARDA | TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE
Riva del Garda is situated at the northern end of Lake Garda in the Trento Province of theTrentino Alto Adige Region. Known as "Benacus" by the Romans, the town is on a small plain formed by the rivers of the Sarca Valley. The entire valley is surrounded by 2000 meter peaks of the Alps and Prealps.
Lake Garda is one of the most popular of the lakes in northern Italy, and Riva del Garda is among the highlights of a visit to the lake. The town has a fortress dominating the lakefront area and an interesting old town to explore full of narrow cobbled streets and pretty shady squares. The favourable climatic conditions of the region can best be seen in the Mediterranean vegetation like agave, rosemary, prickly pears and oleander grow spontaneously while among the cultivated plants, the olive-tree is very common. In Roman times the town was a commercial centre of great importance due to its location on the shores of the Garda Lake and because of the closeness of the Sarca River.
HISTORY OF RIVA DEL GARDA
In the middle ages Riva del Garda was a fiefdom of the Bishop of Trent, but control of the city was often contested by other Italians such as the Venetians, the Scaligeri from Verona and the Visconti from Milan, as well as by foreign powers including the Tyrolese, Austrian, Germans and French. Despite these many challenges the city always retained a certain autonomy. Having started the 20th century as part of the Austrian Hapsburg Empire, Riva del Garda became part of Italy after World War 1 and part of Germany during World War 2. It is now firmly established in Italy, although the Austrian-German heritage can be seen in the architecture of the town. Because of the quality of its climate and some first-rate sanatoriums Riva del Garda was also visited by many literary personalities including Goethe, Nietzsche, Mann, Kafka and others. There is now significant modern expansion around the old centre of the city and the local economy in Riva del Garda relies on both tourism and certain industrial activities.
WHAT TO SEE WHEN VISITING RIVA DEL GARDA
Your visit to Riva del Garda should start at the 'Rocca'. This fortress was founded by the Scaligeri family from Verona in the 14th century then restructured by the Venetians in the 15th century and also later by the Lords from Trent. The fort is now home to the impressive collections of the Civic Library and the Civic Museum.
Next take a stroll around the port area of Riva del Garda, a lovely place for a promenade, a coffee and an ice-cream. As well as the pastel coloured houses overlooking the lake you can also see the ruins of the fortifications that were erected in the Middle Ages to defend the port. A visit to the Apponale Tower, a 13th century clocktower in the centre of the harbour area, is also interesting with the view from the top of the tower the main attraction. From here you should then visit the two palaces in Riva del Garda that were inspired by Venetian architecture: the Palazzo Pretorio and the Palazzo Vecchio. Continuing on from here you arrive in the Piazza San Rocco which has many monuments and palaces of both medieval and contemporary style due to the restructuring of the town centre during the last century.
You can now explore the Città Vecchia (Old Town), the historical centre of Riva del Garda where you can see some interesting baroque style palaces. Enter the old town by the "Porta-Torre of San Marco" or the "Porta-Torre of San Michele". Also to admire in this part of Riva del Garda is a baroque style church called "Della Disciplina" and the "Assuntas Church". More buildings in both Renaissance and Baroque style can be seen along the "Viale Roma" such as the Chiesa dell Inviolata church, while the 'San Michele fuori le mura' is a church of medieval origin. Your tour of the town can be concluded with a walk on the "Lungomare Brescia", created by restructuring some ancient structures and dating from the 19th century and the First World War.
WHAT TO DO IN RIVA DEL GARDA
- A short walk from Riva del Garda also takes you to the Varone Waterfall, about 100 metres high and well worth the walk.
- Lake Tenno and Lake di Ledro, both of which are in scenic positions surrounded by mountains.
- You might not guess given the location of Riva del Garda, but it also has a very popular windsurfing centre based at nearby Torbole, with a reliable wind from the mountains blowing out across the lake.
- You will also find a good sized pebble beach on the edge of Riva del Garda.
- The other resorts around the shores of Lake Garda can also be reached using the ferries that regularly cross the lake, although from here it is quite a long boat journey to reach those at the southern end of the lake such as Sirmione. You can also circumnavigate the lake by car or bike.
- Heading north from here and away from the lake you reach Arco, a picturesque village and a good place to start more adventurous excursions into the dolomites. Further north you reach the 'real' mountains and winter ski resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio.
ROMAN HISTORY OF SIRMIONE | LAKE GARDA
It’s thought that the original settlement of Sirmione was born thanks to certain characteristics of the site. First, the particular shape of this strip of land surrounded by water, and therefore safe. The area at north of the castle, which has the shape of a triangle with the longest side of 1250 meters and maximum width of 750 meters, consists of three hills: Curtains, San Pietro in Mavinas, the "Catullo’s Caves". On it there are the ruins of a Roman villa (the first century A.D.) that a long tradition without foundation attributes to the poet Catullus, who lived in the I century B.C. It 's likely, however, that the family of Verona, the Valeri, who the poet belonged to, had possessions in Sirmione, some of his famous lines substantiate this hypothesis. The peninsula, in fact, as all the coast of the low Garda, was a resort for high-ranking families, as evidenced by the discovery of at least three houses, of which only the ruins, called just "Catullo's Caves", survive.The "Catullo's Caves", covering an area of two hectares, are the most impressive archaeological site in northern Italy. The vastness of the site and the scarcity of easily interpretable remains, however, make it difficult for the inexperienced tourists to pay a visit that will allow them to orient themselves in a satisfactory manner. The visitor who expects ruins similar to Pompei will surely disappoint :there’s almost nothing left of the villa itself, what you can see are the substructures ,that is the powerful masonry intended to support the building and placed below it, and some service areas. Nevertheless, the charm of this place did not pass unnoticed by the visitors of the past, who were able to capture the harmony of the fusion of the ancient rose-colored stones with the unique landscape in which they are immersed. Knowing how to appreciate both the signs of antiquity and the beauty of nature makes the visit complete and unforgettable.
Besides its natural beauty, Sirmione was important in Roman road system: it stood on the Gallic road, the ancient road that came through Bergamo and Brescia to Verona, where it was connected to the Postunia road which, built in 148 BC, united Genoa to Aquileia. In Desenzano the Gallic road continued to Peschiera along the coast, through Rivoltella and Colombare. The Itinerarium Antonini, a text of the third century A.D. testifies the existence of a place where travellers could stop, the mansion Sirmione, situated half way between Brescia and Verona. Scholars believe that the old mansio was located in Vecchia Lugana, where there is a building which has been indicated by the maps as Osteria or Betola, i.e. a place of rest and refreshment, already in the fifteenth century. Here the Roman road was connected to the ancient village road, the actual Via Lucchino, now a pedestrian promenade along the eastern shore of the lake. Then it continued towards Peschiera, hugging the shore more than the current Highway 11.
Sirmione | BRESCIA PROVINCE
The peninsula of Sirmione stretches out for 4 km into the southern coast of Lake Garda and located in the Brescia Province of Lombardy Region. Sirmione's favourable location and climate explain the presence of man through all ages of history, from the pile-dwelling settlements onwards. Artists and poets have visited and written songs about this town , bearing witness to the fascination exerted in all ages. The old town stands on a triangle of land a little over a mile long and about seven hundred metres wide, on which 3 hills rise less than three hundred metres above sea level: Cortine, San Pietro and the "Grotte di Catullo".
‘A gem among peninsulas’, was Catullus’ definition and he had good reasons for his label: to this day Sirmione occupies a unique, privileged position. Guarded by the massive “Scaligera” fortress, built in the 13th century by Mastino I della Scala, the town’s green olive trees crown the remains of a grandiose Roman villa, and stretch out to the blue waters. A drawbridge separates the complex from the mainland.
The peninsula, is made up of three hills: the one to the east is called Cortine, one to the west is known as Mavino and the northern one takes its name from the spectacular Roman settlement known as the Caves of Catullus. But practically every corner in this region has traces of its Ro- man origins: Roman noblemen, attracted by the incredibly mild climate and the beauty of its landscape during the Imperial Age, chose to build their sumptuous villas in this area.
In Cortine, votive memorials to Jupiter and Mercury have been found near the site of the former church of St. Salvatore, as well as memorial stones dedicated to the Roman emperors Constantine and Julian the Apostate. In Mavino, the attractive church of St. Peter, lies on an ancient pagan temple amidst green olive trees that slope down towards the lake. Salò comes into sight after nearly one hour on board the vessel.
HISTORY OF SIRMIONE
Roman History of Sirmione
The Middle Ages | History of Sirmione
History of Venetian Rule in Sirmione
History of the Middle Age in Sirmione
The Lombard domination was a period of great importance in the history of Sirmione. This population, coming from northern Europe, swept in 568 B.C. from Friuli along the east-west road to Verona, Brescia, Bergamo, Milan and from there went to Pavia. The peninsula, exhausted by the Gothic-Byzantine war and plague, offered no resistance at the new invaders' advance, who took over all of northern Italy, electing Pavia as their capital. Within the conquered territory, Sirmione occupies a strategic position, as it controlled the road from Verona to Brescia and the road to the Val d'Adige. Its importance is demonstrated by the fact that in this period it became the capital of judiciaria sermionensis, a wide area that stretched from the Valtenesi up to the eastern shore of the lake and came at south to San Martino di Gusnago, village of Ceresara in the province of Mantova and included the plain of Riva at north.Some documents provide information on three existing churches in the peninsula into Lombard era, in the second half of the eighth century, St. Martin, St. Vitus and St. Peter in Mavinas.The first of these, dedicated to St. Martin, perhaps coincided with the present parish church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which replaced it after its destruction. The building, which dates from the late fifteenth century, has a rectangular shape with a polygonal apse and it is oriented on an east-west axis. The north side stands on the remains of medieval fortifications. The interior has a nave divided by three arches, with walls decorated with frescoes dating to the early '500, except those at the bottom of the north wall that belong to an earlier period. The high altar in the apse was carved in the marble.
The Church of St. Vito and Modesto, which still exists, does not coincide with the eighth-century old building that was demolished and rebuilt in 1744. It is a chapel located on an estate about a mile from the castle. It is currently used at the celebration of the two saints, which is on June 15.
The church of St. Peter in Mavino, secluded from the town, stands on the homonymous hill, which perhaps the mysterious toponym refers to: in summas vineas, that is, between the vineyards located higher up. The building has been remodeled over the centuries, so as to make its history difficult: a brick at the side of the portal bears the date 1320, the year of the restoration and the frescos belong to four different times, two of which prior to this date and the last one dating 1525.The church, oriented on an east-west axis, has a rectangular plan that narrows at the apse for a deviation of the northern wall. In the presbytery there are three apses, one larger at the center and two smaller at the sides. The ceiling is made from large wooden beams. On the left side of the main altar there’s another door to the outside. Outside, at the same side, the bell tower rises, about m. 17 high, in which one can enter from the inside. Far from town, it became perhaps a leper hospital and a graveyard for the plague victims who could not be buried in the parish church and in the adjacent cemetery.
There also remains a trace of a fourth Lombard church, the one of St. Saviour, almost totally disappeared since centuries, from which you can see a part of the apse at the beginning of the path that goes into the public park. The building, built after the 760 by Queen Ansa, wife of Desire, last king of the Lombards, was part of a small female monastic complex depending on the homonymous monastery of Brescia, called Santa Giulia from the ninth century. The finds preserved in the castle come from this ancient building , including two fragments of a ciborium containing the names of Desire and his son Adelchi’s one.The presence of the Lombards in Sirmione, since the early years of their settlement in Italy, is attested not only by the buildings of worship. Since1914 many tombs have been discovered in the area between the road of "Caves", "Lido of Blondes" and”Via Piana”; it testify the existence of an ancient necropolis located in this area. Depending on the type of objects found (knives, spear points, combs) it's believed that it was used in the first period of the settlement of these people who have left traces even in Sirmione place names: the name of "Lido of Blondes", comes from "biunda", i.e. "enclosed space".In 774 the Lombard kingdom fell by Charlemagne, king of the Franks. Sirmione suffered from this change: the fortified town and the small monastery of St. Saviour were assigned by Charles to the convent of St. Martin of Tours to finance the habit of the monks. Sirmione lost its administrative importance, it disappeared as a district and started to become a small fortified town of the territory of Verona .Later, Sirmione was established as a municipality and it remained autonomous, directly dependent on the central imperial power, as evidenced by a document dated 1220 by which the Emperor Frederick II confirmed the imperial privileges that the inhabitants had previously received, including the right to fishing on the lake.
TORRI DEL BENACO, VERONA PROVINCE
Nestling at the foot of Monte Baldo, along the shores of Lake Garda and surrounded by pine forests, olive and lemon groves, Torri del Benaco combines the charm of a medieval village with the liveliness of the modern tourist centre. The town is the point for the car ferry crossing, that takes you from the eastern shore over to the western shore.
This town is dominated by the enormous XIV century Scaliger Castel, which hosts an ethnographic Museum with interesting displays dedicated to prehistoric rock engravings, fishing, olive growing and the eighteenth-century lemon greenhouse.
There are numerous routes that can be covered by mountain bike. These paths amid hornbeam, hazel and oak trees lead into the hills and Mount Baldo. There are also tennis courts, jogging, horseback riding and golf. Torri del Benaco is a true paradise for sailing and windsurfing as well as a popular centre for SCUBA diving enthusiasts who can admire a fascinating underwater nativity scene during the Christmas season.