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Lake Garda, Sirmione, and Desenzano del Garda: Beautiful Italian Sites

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione

Views of Lake Garda from Sirmione

Lake Garda

In 2006, my husband got to go on a wine-related trip to Italy. Among other sites, he got to see portions of Lake Garda, Sirmione, and Desenzano. When looking through one of the souvenir photo albums that he put together after his trip, it enticed me to learn more which I will share with you here.

Lake Garda is a result of the scouring and sculpting of glacial action during the last Ice Age. For mountain hiking and biking enthusiasts plus those who like to ski (depending upon the time of the year), those are all available in the nearby mountains, as are the aquatic activities which any sizable lake provides.

Of course, the scenery is gorgeous! The few photos taken by my hubby prove that point. Additional images and videos add more information plus visual beauty for those interested in learning more.

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)



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. Sirmione is there. Magnificent water views are in view from every vantage point. The spectacular beauty is probably why this 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 in his family's villa built out on 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. Spectacular Roman ruins punctuate the tip of the peninsula.

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

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

I can well imagine some pampering 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.

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

Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano is 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. That 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.

Desenzano del Garda is in the Lombardy region of Italy. It offers visitors and the people who live there access to some pretty beaches, some great nightlife, and of course access to all types of water recreation plus nearby mountain activities.

Mixed among the modern amenities like the hotels are shops, cafes, historic villas, churches, a cathedral, a castle, an archeological museum, and a harbor filled with numerous watercraft.

Vacationing in Italy

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

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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 photos taken by my husband made me 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 ideal for my vacationing in Italy.

This video tells much about the area all around the lake.

Locations of Desenzano del Garda and Sirmione in Italy


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2021:

Hi Stephanie,

Yes, my husband's trip was long before this pandemic swept over the world. It will be so lovely to be able to experience trips like this again in the future. These sites are gorgeous!

Stephanie on March 15, 2021:

Your husband is very lucky to have visited this gorgeous region in the pre-Covid days. Really enjoyed the pictures and videos and would love to visit someday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 13, 2019:

Hi Rajan,

I would also like to vacation there someday. My husband was fortunate to be able to see this in person.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 11, 2019:

I would love very much to vacation in this beautiful part of the world. Awesome photos.

Robert Sacchi on October 09, 2018:

Yes, thank to them all.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2018:

Hi Robert,

We can thank my husband for the photos as well as those who released their photos into the public domain.

Robert Sacchi on October 08, 2018:

Those are nice pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 07, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Lake Garda is an amazingly beautiful place judging from the photos my husband took and learning more about the area after his trip which took him there. Glad you liked learning about it.

Robert Sacchi on October 06, 2018:

Thank you for posting. I wasn't aware of Lake Garda. Among other things I'm impressed by the lake's depth.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 17, 2013:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on September 16, 2013:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2013:

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!

C E Clark from North Texas on September 08, 2013:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 17, 2013:

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.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 17, 2013:

What a beautiful spot!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 10, 2013:

Hi James,

My husband may be getting another chance to visit Italy on business in the near future. He has fallen in love with that country. Perhaps someday I will get to see some of it. Nice that you have been there. Thanks for your comment.

James A Watkins from Chicago on February 08, 2013:

Wow. This place is incredibly beautiful, Peg. I would love to go there. I have been to Italy a few times but Lake Garda looks extry special. Thank you for this informative and lovely travelogue. I enjoyed the journey; and never left the farm. :-)


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 16, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

So glad that you liked this look at this beautiful part of Italy that my husband got to enjoy. It certainly does look amazingly beautiful! Appreciate your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 16, 2012:

Another true gem from you Peggy;thank you for sharing.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 05, 2012:

Hi Prasetio,

It would be wonderful to be able to take a vacation on Lake Garda...whether it be Sirmione or Desenzano or elsewhere. Let's go! Thanks for your comment and votes.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 05, 2012: I love this information. This was beautiful lake. Peggy, you make this hub so complete, until I confuse how to choose the best videos. Because all of them so beautiful. Thumbs up for you by pressing all buttons here, except funny. Lake Garda....I am coming!


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2012:

Hi Charlu,

So happy that you enjoyed these photos from Lake Garda, Sirmione and Desenzano. Normally I take the photos in our house, but since I was not there, I think that my husband captured some great shots. Thanks for your comment and vote.

Charlu from Florida on March 04, 2012:

Absolutely stupendous hub and the pictures are incredible. I love the castle, the lake, and all of the 13th to 16th century nostalgia. Great hub and voted that way

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2012:

Hello moneycop,

Oh you lucky person to be able to see Italy in person in the next month or so! I'll be publishing a few more hubs about different areas in Italy that my husband got to stay tuned. The lake region in Italy is gorgeous from what I have seen viewing his photos. Enjoy your trip and thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2012:

Hi Cheryl,

It surely is a beautiful part of Italy and the world for that matter. Glad to hear you liked these photos and videos. Thanks for your comment.

moneycop from JABALPUR on March 03, 2012:

just about to tour italy next month and you have helped me in getting me more versed to have an insight into the countrys beautyfull places..thank you very much

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on March 03, 2012:

A beautiful scenic place. Thanks for sharing Bruce's photos of his most memorable trip to Lake Garda-Sirmione. I love the castle, the view and the water surrounding the castle is absolutely beautiful. Great information, photos and videos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2012:

Hi Little Nell,

What a great place to matter which end of Lake Garda. It looks gorgeous! Thanks for your comment.

Little Nell from Somerset, UK on March 03, 2012:

Enjoyed your hub and it brought back memories of our honeymoon in Riva, which is at the other end of the lake. We stayed in a tiny hotel at the foot of the mountains. a beautiful place and surprisingly unsullied by tourism. Happy days!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

I'll look forward to your Lake Garda, Sirmione and Desenzano report...or perhaps other areas surrounding Lake Garda when you visit there. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 03, 2012:

I'm sorry I missed this area on my last trip to Italy. Will make time for it because of your hub. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2012:

Hi Charles,

Nice way to think of it...seeing parts of Italy at no cost. I guess that is why armchair traveling is so popular. So far this is the only way that I have seen Italy also. Happy to share some of Bruce's travels with you. Thanks for your comment.

Charles Criner on March 03, 2012:

Its like a trip to Italy without the expense.

Thank you Peggy


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hi Alastar,

Sounds like a good deal! Italy here we come! Haha!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 02, 2012:

Let's team up and go Peggy. I'll chauffeur and carry luggage if you'll handle the tips.:)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hi Alastar,

That is the same way that I have gotten to enjoy seeing Lake Garda and the environs...through my husband's photos and the telling of his trip. It definitely would be a place I would love to see in person someday. Thanks for your comment.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 02, 2012:

Lake Garda sure is gorgeous Peggy. You didn't exaggerate one bit. A little surprised at how deep it is, 1200 feet is way down for fresh-water. Never been but had some friends who did and they said Northern Italy was their most beautiful trip. They wouldn't go to the South for all the Mafia crime. What a castle, no wonder it's the lakes most popular attraction. Well, thanks for another great trip Peggy, with your story, the pics and a couple vids at least got a taste of the place!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hi Don,

I know what you mean. Not too many least ancient the United States. Thanks for your comment and votes on this hub about Lake Garda, Sirmione and Desenzano in Italy. Appreciate it.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on March 02, 2012:

Nothing like a castle or two to know you are not in the United States. Places like this are interesting because of the pre modern elements. voted up,awesome and interesting.sharing it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hello bdegiulio,

Oh you lucky soul to have been able to see Lake Garda in person! Did you take a boat ride around the lake? Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hi Gail,

Yes...doesn't this Lake Garda area look gorgeous! Before my husband's trip, while I had heard of that lake, I had never heard of Sirmione and Desenzano, so I enjoyed learning about those areas as well. So many beautiful places in this world! Thanks for your comment and votes.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2012:

Hi Gene,

Haha! I know! Many people offered to "carry his bags" on that trip to Italy and the Lake Garda area. It is gorgeous and interesting from what I have seen and learned about the area. Thanks for the first comment.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 02, 2012:

Very nice. We were in the lake Garda area a few years ago, the northern end. It is a beautiful part of Italy. Enjoyed the Hub.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on March 02, 2012:

What a stunningly beautiful place with so much to do and see. I can surely see why this would be a dream trip of where in this world you would like to travel to.

Hope you do get there someday.

I also liked the personal family information you included in this hub which made us understand why you love lakes so much.

Voted up across the board except for funny. I really enjoyed my virtual trip and had never heard of these locations before.

Gene Jasper on March 02, 2012:

Another reason to hang around with Bruce! What a spot. I'd love to visit even without Bruce.


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