I've always wanted to go to Lake Garda ever since seeing it online. There is a fairytale-like charm an area where castles appear dotted along the coastline of enormous mountains. An area steeped in history, yet preserved in time. I was surprised to learn that the Archaeological site of Grotte di Catullo was here, which were the ruins of a Roman villa built at the end of 1st century BC, as the elite Romans used to vacation in the area.
I feel like we hit the Airbnb jackpot when booking the B&B Villa Paradiso situated steps from the middle of Sirmione. The home had the most beautiful gardens, a delicious breakfast spread available, and stunning vintage furniture, yet modern bathrooms.
On our first day after the long 2 train and taxi ride from Venice. It was uncharacteristically hot, so we put on our sandals and hit the town. We found a restaurant called Caruso, and stopped by for some drinks and freshly baked pizza. This was the perfect patio to people watch and take in the views of the boats zipping by.
Later we went to the Aqua Thermal Spa in Sirmione. They offered robes and bathing caps for rent and had an interesting revolving coat check system for your belongings. They also had lots of loungers to sit under the sun in, as well as a cafe with food and drinks. Naturally, I brought my Aperol spritz into the spa with me. This unique spa can't be missed and is the perfect way to recharge on your trip.
For dinner, we headed to Il Grifone. A beautiful restaurant perched on the water right across the way from the famous Sirmione Castle. They had delicious seafood offerings, but the real showstopper was the overflowing dessert cart. I think we tried everything available, as each offering was better than the next. They had an almond flour cake, which was out of this world.
The next day, we headed to Malcesine to take the cable car up to the top of Mount Baldo. We took the ferry that departed from the docks in the center of Sirmione. The schedule can be found here, and the fast ferry is recommended to save time. In Malcesine, we took a quick bite of pizza and took in the views of the harbor before heading the cable car queue. We had heard the lines can be quite long, but because it was rainy this morning, there were only a handful of people before us. With our luck, the sun came out as we were ascending the mountain into a beautiful and sunny day. The air was so fresh and crisp, and I'll never forget the views. This is easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.
After a few hours hiking the paths and heading towards the north end of the lake to see the views of Austria, Switzerland, and the Dolomites, we took a quick coffee break at the cafe and went back down.
Because the ferry back to Sirmione only runs until certain times, we took the bus system back to Sirmione. After one of the buses ended their route early, we finally taxied the rest of the way. Tired would be an understatement.
We arrived back just in time for our reservation at Trattoria La Fiasca. The restaurant was teeming with people and our athletic attire definitely stood out, but we were too hungry to care. This restaurant was a pleasant surprise and everything was very delicious. A busker then entered the restaurant and serenaded the guests with his beautiful singing, which made our last night of our short trip very special.
Sirmione and the Brescia region takes you back in time. It is truly a unique region of Italy and would be perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing holiday. The people are friendly, and the cuisine is unique. I do have to note that these chain gelato shops catering to kids seemed to have a stronghold here, so we didn't find any good ones. But, if that's the only negative, I'll count it as a win. Sirmione was everything we had hoped it would be, and extremely safe. I even went on a solo run one morning and felt completely at peace in nature.