Vacationing in Italy ~ Lake Garda ~ Sirmione and Desenzano del Garda

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione
Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione | Source

Vacation Dreams

A question was posed by a fellow writer and this was her query..."Where in this world would you most like to go? How would you get there? by sea, by air?"

Looking through one of the souvenir photo albums that my husband put together after a wine related trip to Italy back in the year 2006, this is fairly easy for me to answer.

First of all...since we live in Houston, Texas the "how would you get there" part of the question would be easy to answer. Since my husband is not sold on the idea of cruising, the obvious answer would be to fly. Fortunately with an International airport located to the north of us in Houston, our departure could be easily arranged.

My husband's trip flight connections took him from Houston to Frankfurt and then to Milan after which he took a train to Desenzano. Naturally there are also other ways to connect between the countries.

Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione (both on Lake Garda) in Italy would be the reply to the first part of the question as to where I would like to go.

There are numerous areas in the world which I would like to eventually see...but for now and the purpose of this post, I'll settle for this gorgeous location...and I think that you will soon see why.

Lake Garda Italy

Some statistics about Lake Garda

34 miles (54 kms)
2 - 11 miles (3 - 18 kms)
Maximum depth
1,194 ft. (364 m)
90 miles (145 km)
Total area
143 sq.miles (370 sq. kms)

Lake Garda as viewed from Sirmione

Lake Garda as viewed from Sirmione
Lake Garda as viewed from Sirmione | Source

Lake Garda

Not to be compared with Lake Garda, which is the largest lake in all of Italy , was Okauchee Lake where my paternal grandmother had a home, and because of that, I got to often swim in the lake during the summer and enjoy ice skating on that same lake in the winter-time.

Rowing boats out on the lake was fun as was riding in the cabin cruiser which we often enjoyed.

It was there that my parents taught my two brothers and me how to swim. Suffice it to say that I appreciate lakes.

It was because of Okauchee lake, that my parents met, courted and married years ago. My maternal grandparents once owned a summer cottage on another part of the lake in the small town of Okauchee, Wisconsin.

Lake Garda, compared to Okauchee Lake is a gigantic body of water. While scouring and sculpting glacial activity took place in Wisconsin during the last Ice Age, leaving behind many hills, valleys and eventual filling of also did the same in Italy. Lake Garda is a result of such glacial action.

Of course the surrounding scenery is a bit different.

There are no mountain ranges anywhere near Okauchee, Wisconsin as there are in the northern parts of Italy. Thus, the views from the much larger Lake Garda are strikingly different.

For mountain hiking and biking enthusiasts as well as those who like to ski...depending upon the time of the year ...that is all available nearby as are the aquatic activities which any sizable lake provides.

Of course the scenery is gorgeous! The few photos that were taken by my hubby prove that point as well as the videos that I found which attest to those attributes.

Views of Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione
Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione | Source
Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione
Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione | Source

Shops & restaurants on Sirmione

Shops & restaurants on Sirmione
Shops & restaurants on Sirmione | Source


Into this largest of all Italian lakes juts a sizable peninsula at the southern part of Lake Garda dividing the lower portion of the lake almost equally from the shoreline. This is where Sirmione is located.

Magnificent water views can be seen from every vantage point. This is probably why this scenic peninsula had people settling there as early as the fifth and sixth centuries BC.

The poet Gaius Valerius Catullus who lived in the first century spent time there in his family's villa which was built out on the tip of the peninsula. His contemporaries included Julius Caesar, Cicero and others. A bust of Catullus exists there today on Sirmione where the Villa of Catullus still exists.

In addition to Sirmione hotels, restaurants and shops catering to modern day tourists, there are attractions which lure people there such as the Scaliger Castle that dates back to the 13th century. This noble Scaliger family not only had the castle as a fortification but also owned a fleet of ships which were constructed and for a while dominated that area in Italy from that stronghold.

Art lovers would enjoy viewing the ancient frescoes which date back to the twelfth to sixteenth centuries in the church of San Pietro in Mavino and also the Santa Maria Maggiore located in Sirmione. The Catholic church has a prominent presence in Italy dating back to after the time of Christ...and where people settled, churches were also built.

Health spas are also located in Sirmione because of thermal springs found there. The 69 degree water that bubbles up out of the ground contains some sulphur as well as bromine, iodine and trace minerals which are all supposed to offer health benefits.

I can well imagine being pampered after a day of exploring the surrounding environs and enjoying a mud bath followed by a massage. I have yet to have a mud bath, but I can't think of a better place to experience that while viewing the Alps off to the right side of Sirmione and hearing the lapping waves of the aqua tinged waters hitting the shores on both sides of this scenic peninsula.

Sirmione Castle (Rocca Scaligera)

Sirmione Castle (Rocca Scaligera)
Sirmione Castle (Rocca Scaligera) | Source

Waterside view in Desenzano del Garda

Waterside view in Desenzano del Garda
Waterside view in Desenzano del Garda | Source

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano del Garda

This is the town not far away from Sirmione and also located on Lake Garda where my husband stayed while visiting a winery just a stone's throw away which was the reason for his being in that beautiful part of Italy.

Like Sirmione, it was also settled in the first century...primarily at first by wealthy people from Verona.

Desanzano del Garda is in the Lombardy region of Italy offering visitors as well as the people who live there access to some pretty beaches, some great night life and, of course, access to all types of water recreation as well as nearby mountain activities.

Mixed among all of the modern amenities like hotels, shops and cafes are historic villas, churches, a cathedral, a castle and a harbor filled with all types of watercraft.

Exploring Lake Garda (Tells much about the area all around the lake.)

Vacationing in Italy

If my dream comes true and I get to stay either in Desenzano del Garda or Sirmione some day for precious vacation time, I would definitely like to take some ferry rides around Lake Garda to see some of the other towns located around the shoreline and perhaps spend some time in each one.

For certain I would need a battery charger or extra batteries for my digital camera as I would be happily snapping one gorgeous site after another. The few photos that my husband took just enticed me to want to know about this beautiful part of Italy.

Spending an adequate amount of time and slowly savoring one portion of this southern European country before moving on to another would be the ideal for my vacationing in Italy...and Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione are worth some time. From what you have seen, don't you agree?

Would you like to vacation at one of these locations along Lake Garda?

See results without voting

Locations of Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione in Italy

show route and directions
A markerDesenzano del Garda, Italy -
Desenzano del Garda Brescia, Italy
[get directions]

B markerSirmione, Italy -
25019 Sirmione Brescia, Italy
[get directions]

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5 out of 5 stars from 4 ratings of Lake Garda, Sirmione & Desenzano

© 2012 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed! 36 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

It was fun ice skating on the lake in the winter as well as swimming in the summer. Never tried water skiing but probably would have had my parents not moved to Texas. Yes it is still hot and humid in Houston. At least it is in the lower 90's instead of topping 100 degrees. Think that we are past that now. Will be busy writing on another site today.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Just got done reading again to see where I got confused. For some reason I thought Lake Garda and Okauchee Lake were the same. Silly me! Okauchee is obviously an American Indian name. I still think you're lucky to have been able to visit your grandmother and enjoy her lake often. Pretty as Lake Garda is, Okauchee Lake sounds like more fun. I loved ice skating when I was young.

We're probably cooler up here than Houston, but it's still going to be a hot humid day. Hope you'll be in a cool place . . .

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

You must have scanned this article. The lake my grandmother used to live on was in Wisconsin. I was just talking about memories. This lovely area is one my hubby got to visit while in Italy several years ago. Appreciate the shares, etc. Hope you are having a good day today!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Fabulous photos and the water is so blue! This looks like a place that has everything a person could want for relaxing or exploring, depending on one's mood. How lucky you were to be able to enjoy this beautiful place often, and during different seasons while visiting your grandmother.

Voted up, BAUI, pinned to my 'Travel' board and will share! Oh yes, and gave you 5 more stars.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi AudreyHowitt,

I couldn't agree with you more! Lake Garda in Italy and the places like Sirmione and Desenzano that are situated near it or on the banks of it truly make for great landscapes. Thanks for your visit and comment.

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