While planning our trip to Venice, a friend suggested we take a day or two and visit Sirmione on Lake Garda. I was hesitant in foregoing any of our Venetian explorations, doubting anything could compare to the beautiful city of canals, but being born and raised in Italy, I trusted my friend’s judgement–besides, she completely persuaded Brooke with stories of the fairy tale castle nestled in the glistening water of Lake Garda–so how was I to refuse?
Sirmione, a walled medieval village at the south end of Lake Garda is positioned on a peninsula that juts into the lake. It is less than a two hour drive/train ride from Venice. But be aware, if you are traveling by car and wish to visit Sirmione, you should drive to Desenzano, park there and take the twenty-minute ferry ride to Sirmione. Reason being, you must walk through a drawbridge to enter into this Medieval Walled town, and only essential vehicles are permitted.
We were traveling by train and upon arrival at the Desenzano Del Garda station, we hopped into a taxi and headed to Hotel Miramar. On our ride, our eyes were glued to the windows, as the scenery was without a doubt the most breathtaking we have ever witnessed. As we headed up one of the meandering Italian streets, dotted with palm trees, we turned the corner and Lake Garda came into view like something out of a dream. We were speechless, and that’s saying a lot for Brooke!
We were welcomed at Hotel Miramar with refreshing beverages and a lovely room filled with fresh fruit and cheese. Our lakeview room was perfect for watching ferries and boats passing by, with the surreal mountains as a backdrop. Hotel Miramar was in easy walking to Sirmione old town, and after a lovely al fresco pizza lunch at Ristorante l’ Arcimboldo, we headed to the magical Scaliger Castle.
The strategic setting of the castle, placed at the entrance to the peninsula, is surrounded by a moat with two drawbridges. There are many nooks and crannies to explore, and lots of stairs to climb, but they are worth every step to enjoy the panoramic views of the lake.
Our second day in Sirmione began with the hotel’s buffet breakfast including a plethora of pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, meats and cheeses. The feast was followed by a swim in the pristine outdoor pool where we met the kindest families from Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. Our swim was followed by a leisurely walk down the vibrant narrow streets and colorful piazzas, of course enjoying gelato along the way.
Our First Gelato Stop
So needless to say, if you are visiting Venice or Verona, definitely take a day or two and head to the magical lakeside land of Sirmione. You will truly feel transported into a medieval fairy tale. We will without a doubt return, as it was one of our top Italian destinations we’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.
A shout out to Glenda, at the front desk of Hotel Miramar is totally necessary: She will take such good care of you–arranging boat trips, wine tours, bicycle rides, you name it. She is one of the gems of Sirmione!
History of Scaliger Castle: http://www.lifeinitaly.com/tourism/lombardy/scaliger-castle-sirmione