An April 2001 trip
to Sirmione by Barb B
Quote: Sirmione is a romantic, ancient town at the point of the island which juts into Lago di Garda, the largest of Northern Italy's Lakes. There are those who perfer Lake Como, but I prefer the friendliness and imformality of Lago di Garda. Sirmione is the perfect town to serve as a starting point for day trips to Verona, and visiting the small towns which encircle the lake.
Spas, culture, thermal baths, wines, ancient ruins, Castles, designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants, discothèques and outstanding hotels - all combine to offer a special pleasure to current day travelers.
Inside of this picturesque walled and turreted town, history springs to life, providing one with a very real sense of a unique historic era. The wide vistas and quiet olive groves allow a peaceful escape and an opportunity to reflect on the significant events of ancient Rome's elite society.
The town itself is an intricate labyrinth of narrow streets and medieval lanes. Artisan workshops and well-preserved houses lead the way to the village piazza filled with small tables sheltered by colorful umbrellas. The Piazza provides an ideal spot to interrupt your tourist itinerary and enjoy a bit of people watching.
A short walk along the olive grove path leads to the Grottoes of Cattulus, the ancient playground of Rome's rich and famous.
Gelato stands punctuate the sidewalks along the entry to the historic area--By all means, enjoy some. Generally, Italians order 2 or 3 different flavors in a cup. My favorite flavors are Albicocca (apricot), hazelnut and amaretto--a WONDERFUL(!) combination.
Hotel | "Rossi Appartamenti - Alba Residence"
Each morning our husbands walked to a local bakery where they enjoyed cups of cappuccino before returning to our apartment with freshly baked breads for breakfast. My sister and I were truly LUCKY(!) ladies. We shared a 2 bedroom/2bath apartment with kitchen, balcony, Color sattellite TV and private parking for one week. The total cost was less than $75 a day for 4 people--an EXCELLENT Bargain. That price included all taxes and cleaning costs.
Apartment cleaning and linen change is provided twice each week. We really did not need to drive in Sirmione but private parking was right in front of our apartment--everything was within walking distance. Sirmione is an excellent starting point for trips all around Lake Garda as well as easy access fir day trips to Verona, Vicenza and even Milan. Upon arrival at Sirmione, we were personally greeted by Mr. Rossi--a very distinguished Italian gentelman who speaks impeccable English. Consider renting an apratment if you plan to stay in one place for a week--this is a wonderful bargain(!) if you are traveling with friends or family - not to mention the convenience of having 2 FULL bathrooms AND a kitchen!! ONE CAUTION ABOUT HOTELS/APARTMENT IN ITALY: There is NEVER(!!) enough soap for us Americans--usually you get(maybe)2 tiny bars for a week.----BRING your own soap--a few extra 'hotel - size bars or even a bottle of liquid soap will NEVER go to waste!!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 16, 2000
25019 Sirmione Terme
Since we have arrived late this evening, and we are not very hungry, we ask our waiter for some recommendations for a light meal. He suggests that we share a salad, then have some soup and dessert. Sounds great to us!
We decide to share the capprece insalata (a salad of beautifully ripe tomatoes with a soft mozerrella cheese made from buffalo milk, and topped with fresh basil, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper). Although we've enjoyed this salad before in Italy, the capers are a different and welcome addition. The large salad is definitely enough for two to share.
Next we each order a bowl of white bean soup. It arrives and our waiter quickly drizzles a bit of olive oil over the top. It has the consistency of a smooth, heavy cream and is wonderfully aromatic, although I'm unable to identify exactly which herbs are used. A totally satisfying soup, which I've tried to reproduce in my own kitchen (unfortunately unsuccessfully--next time, I will ask if they will share the recipe).
For dessert we order just one order of Fragoli (fresh strawberries). They arrive topped with a soft cream and obviously soaked in amaretto. An absolutely WONDERFUL end and adequate for 2 people to share. We each order coffee, and our host and his wife come to our table to welcome the 'Americani' they tell us they have friends who live 'near you--in California--do you know them??' (not realizing that California is a MIGHTY big place!!).
Since my husband likes red wine and I prefer white, we ordered only house wines by the glass with our meal. The wines were quite acceptable. We thanked our hosts for a lovely evening and their fine food. The total cost for this meal was less than $30 US dollars!! Definitely a wonderful Meal!!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 28, 2000
Trattoria Al Grappolo
Via 4 Novembre 14
With a menu written in three languages (English, Italian and German) even my sister who speaks absolutely NO Italian had no difficulty finding exactly what she wanted. Although the evening was a bit chilly, we chose to dine on the lovely lake-side terrace. Space heaters banished the chill and we were quite comfortable wearing only light sweaters.
Fresh seafood items are a specialty of the house. Look for mollusks (capazozzoli): mussels, scallops and calamari. Bay shrimp, spider crabs and mantis shrimp are all fresh from Lago di Garda or other nearby lakes. Fall and spring visitors should look for moleche, tiny just-molted soft-shelled extremely tasty crabs. Other main course possibilities include tortelli stuffed with nettles and ricotta, pheasant in grape sauce served with polenta and my personal favorite-- Lamb sauced with Amarone and almonds and served with a seasonal risotto.
Note: This is one of the many restaurants in the area which allows patrons to bring their pet dogs into the eating area. This is very common in restaurants around the lake, especially among the many German tourists in this area. Generally, the dogs have been trained to remain quietly under the table and are, in most cases, better behaved than lots of children I’ve encountered in restaurants here in the US.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 10, 2001
Via 4 Novembre 25
Attraction | "The Ancient Grottoes of Catullo"
An acrid smell of sulphur suddenly pierces ones nostrils --- a fragrant reminder that the thermal baths of the waters below once afforded a popular resort and playground for Rome’s rich and Famous. Originally the magnificent villa of the Roman poet Catullus, Julius Caesar and other Roman dignitaries were frequent guests at this oppulent spa. The residential complex dates from the Imperial age, (approximately the first century B.C.) and the archeological zone incorporates the remains of many attractions: the thermal baths, pool complexes and shops, as well as the gardens of the ancient compound.
The grotto, with its wooded location provides one of the largest and most representative archeological sights discovered in Northern Italy within the Lombardy region. The archeological excavation led by Professor M. Mirabella Roberti during the 1950‘s unearthed numerous highly significant artifacts. Sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, oil lamps, jewels and other impressive historical findings are now on display in the "Antiquarium" near the entrance to the Grotto.
While in the area, take a few moments for a stop at the Romanesque church of San Pietro in Mavino, with its superb panoramic view of the lake. Situated precariously on a cliff overlooking the lake near the edge of a thick olive grove, the church offers an extensive display of frescoes dating from the 13th to the 16th century. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes, which adorn the vault and walls of the main apse, and the beautifully carved wooden crucifix.
Open daily, the entrance fee to the Grottoes of Cattulo is approximately 8000 Lira (about $4 US). The area is easily reached by footpath or by "IL treno delle grotte" (the train to the grotto) from the center of town. Cost for the train is 1500 Lira (about 75 cents US) each way. We enjoyed the walk to the grotto, but we were glad for the convenience of the train on our return, when our feet were very tired!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 6, 2001
Grotte di Catullo
Attraction | "Scaligera Fortress - A View From the Top"
Built in the second half of the 13th century, the Scaligera Fortress was commissioned by Mastino Della Scalla the first, Lord of Verona. Surrounded by the crystal blue waters of Lake Garda below, the imposing towers of the fortress are set at each corner with a double line of walls culminating in huge stone brackets at each junction. We were glad we had climbed to the top of the fortress, because the sentry walkways around the upper walls provided spectacular lookout posts for views of the town of Sirmione and Lago di Garda.
The Fortress serves as the historical nucleus of the town and the entire complex is accessible only by two drawbridges. Colorful remnants of Roman and Medieval societies are contained within the walled complex
And numerous items of both archeological and architectural interest are on display. There is no cost for entry to the Fortress which is opened daily from 9:00 am until Sunset.
While in the area, the nearby Church of St Anna deserves a quick stop. Built in the 17th century, its ornate baroque architecture is unequalled. The vault over the alter is particularly alluring because you can see the unified harmony of the stucco work, the exquisite workmanship in the painting of the sculptures and traces of 16th century frescoes which are still visible.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 15, 2001
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona