The lake region in Northern Italy is probably one of the most impressive
and romantic sights on the planet.
An absolute must see is Sirmione, a village on the tip of a peninsula on Lago di Garda, the largest of the lakes in Lombardia. There is a road on the narrow strip of land that leads to the village, bordered with vineyards, olive trees and cypresses. But non-locals are not permitted inside the city walls so it's more fun to take a boat from one of the other villages on the lake like Lazise (also worth a visit for its square piazza and little harbour). This way you get a better view of the entire village as you slowly approach its shores.
The architecture is the typical Italian mix of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance buildings. The Northern part of the peninsula is an archeological site known as the Grotto di Cattulo, This large Roman villa belonged to the famous poet Catullus and Julius Caesar visited on many occasions. The views on the lake and the Alps are breathtaking and that would explain why Catullus' poetry is so passionate.
"I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do so. I do not know, but I feel it, and am in agony." Catullus
In the Middle-Ages, a fortress called Rocca Scaligera was built on the peninsula to protect the city. Its turrets, drawbridge and thick walls are a display of power and strength. There is an artificial square harbour within its walls that was built to protect the castle's fleet.
Wander in the street, get a gelato and a caffe at a terrace and climb up to visit the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Is it worth talking about the food? As anywhere else in Italy, it's buonississimo, especially if you look for the non-touristic trattorias!
In the 19th century, the thermal properties of the lake waters were discovered and brought tourism. The best place to take a dip is the Villa dei Cedri: two sulfurous lakes at a constant 30°C set within a large park, with waterfalls, a spa, a restaurant, lounge-chairs... what else?
To get in the mood:
Listen: Arctic Monkeys - I wanna be yours
- Eat: Linguini ai frutti di Mare
- Drink: Limoncello