While visiting Verona you cannot miss a little trip to Lake Garda and the town of Sirmione: this beautiful gem of Northern Italy is not only popular for water sports, camping or beautiful beaches, but it is also known for its Roman archelogical site and the medieval Castle.
In Northern Italy Catullo Caves are the most preserved Roman Villa that go back to the period between I Century b.c. and II Century a.C. The name refers to the word ‘grotte’, which means ‘caves’. These ruins are located in the southern side of Lake Garda in the peninsula of Sirmione; the villa occupies 2 ha and it is surrounded by an olive trees field of 1500 plants. If you come to visit this historic place you could enjoy a spectacular view on a rocky shore towards the Lake.
But why its name? Catullo was a Latin Poet who was born in Verona in 84 b.c. He greatly influenced Ovid, Virgil and Horace but he might be remembered for its tormentous love stories. The Villa in Sirmione became its home, as you can read from its Carme 31.
Paene insularum, Sirmio, Insularumque
ocelle, quascumque in liquentibus stagnis
marique vasto fert uterque neptunus,
quam te libenter quamque laetus inviso,
vix mi ipse credens Thyniam atque Bithynos
liquisse campos et videre te in tuto.
O quid solutis est beatius curis,
cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum,
desideratoque acquiescimus lecto?
Hoc est quod unum est pro laboribus tantis.
Salve, o venusta Sirmio, atque ero gaude
gaudente; vosque, o Lydiae lacus undae,
ridete quidquid est dome cachinnorum.
”Sirmione, the pearl of the peninsulas and the islands, Of all that, on the expanse of a transparent lake or the sea Without borders, offers the Neptune of sweet waters and salads, With what pleasure, with what joy I come back to see you again; I am persuaded that I have left the Tinia and the districts of Bitinta, And to be able to watch you in peace. But it is happier to be released from the sorrows, When the mind lays the burden and tired Of a trip to foreign regions we came back to our hearth And we lie in the bed you want? This, in exchange for so much effort, is the only satisfaction. Hello, dear Sirmione, celebrates the master, And you, in the wake of Lake Lidia, celebrate it: I want a laugh of you, of all the laughter you have ”
If you decide to visit Sirmione you can choose our Lake Tour. In the XVIII Century Sirmione was taken under the command by Della Scala Family and the Castle site became a very strategic military location to protect the southern side of the Lake; in fact it is the only one in the world with an internal harbour for boats.
In 1405 the Castle became under control of the Republic of Venice, with the same defense purpose. The very first thing to do once crossed the drawbridge (Ponte levatoio) is to walk up the 146 steps from Courtyard Darsena (Cortile alla Darsen). On the top you will be in front of Torre Angolare; the view is just breathtaking. If you come from far away this is a must; in fact from here you can better admire the famous tops of the Ghibellini battlements called ‘Merli Ghibellini‘ typical of Dovetail shape that you can also find in Verona along CastelVecchio Bridge. Therefore, once on the top you could feel yourself as an old guard who used to walk up and down the narrow walkpaths. However, as traditions tells, every Castel has its own legend: here there is the story of Ebengardo and Arice. If you take our Lake Tour to Sirmione this will be the first story of many you will hear from our local and passionate guide.
This village and its Castle are the perfect destination for past connections and some natural panoramic views to enjoy the ancient spirit of Lake Garda.