Within easy reach of Bergamo, the resort of Sirmione lies in a dramatic setting on a narrow, four kilometre peninsula reaching out into Lago di Garda (Lake Garda).
Sirmione has a medieval centre, full of interesting shops, bars and restaurants, and a fairytale castle, la Rocca Scaligera (above) - the first thing you see as you approach by boat.
The castle was built by a powerful family from Verona in the 13th century and the Italian poet Dante is reputed to have once spent the night there, but it is worth visiting la Rocca Scaligera for the views of the lake from the battlements alone.
There are beautiful views of Lake Garda from many different vantage points in Sirmione that have inspired writers over the centuries, from the Roman poet Catullus to Ezra Pound and James Joyce in the 20th century, who are reputed to have once met up in the resort.
You can visit the ruins of a Roman villa (below), built in the first century BC, that perch on a rocky promontory. Although they are known as Le Grotte di Catullo, it is by no means certain that the poet ever lived there.
Born in Verona, Catullus is believed to have lived in Sirmione for part of his life and his poetry singles out the resort for special praise from ‘…all peninsulas and isles, that in our lakes of silver lie…’
Opera singer Maria Callas also appreciated the beauty of Sirmione, choosing to spend part of her life living in a secluded villa here.
To reach Sirmione from Bergamo by train, travel to Brescia and catch the Milan to Venice express, getting off at Desenzano del Garda. The lake is a few minutes walk from the station.
It takes about an hour to reach Desenzano from Bergamo by car. Leave the A4 Autostrada at the Desenzano exit and head for the centre where there are several car parks.
Un Servizio di Navigazione (boat service) runs regularly between Desenzano and Sirmione from Piazza Matteotti in the centre of Desenzano.
More Day Trips: Desenzano, San Pellegrino, Crema, Sarnico, Lake Garda, Lago Iseo.
A MAGICAL PLACE
Bergamo’s beautiful upper town, the Città Alta (pictured above), is a magical place well worth visiting. Use this website to help you plan your trip to Bergamo in Northern Italy and find your way to some of the other lovely towns and villages in Lombardia that are perhaps less well known to tourists.