Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Sirmione and the neighborhood, May 2016

Ten days in the home of the Scaligeri and the heretics



You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A rainy boat ride on Lago di Garda

The Squirrel having a nice lie-in, 13 May 2016

We've planned for today a scenic boat ride around the southern end of Lake Garda, and we're going to do it. No matter what.

-- We're ready. Where's the boat?

The Trento approaching

Leaving the pier at Sirmione

Passing the "Grotte di Catullo" Roman remains at the end of the peninsula. It's pretty grim weather, and we've almost got the open upper deck to ourselves.

The Castello Scaligeri and our hotel, zoomed from the eastern side

We're approaching Lazise, about 10km due east of the Sirmione peninsula, with its own Castello Scaligero from the 13th and 14th century.

Lazise began life as a stilt village, and its present name derives from a Latin term for a 'city on the lake'.

There is said to be a small but charming medieval old town

The 16th century Dogana Veneta, the Venetian customs house for adminstering trade on the lake, and behind it the 12th century Church of Saint Nicolò, dedicated to St Nicholas the patron of sailors and navigators, amongst many other things.

The belltower in the background, in the centre, belongs to the Parrocchia Santi Zenone E Martino.

The Porticciolo, or Little Harbor

All aboard

The Lungolago Marconi on the Lazise lakefront. Not only that, but a mere 3km south of town you can fine both Movieland Park and the Caneva Aquapark, and a few kilometres beyond that, the Gardaland amusement park and its Sea-Life Aquarium. Plenty to do and see!

Next stop, Bardolino, just 4 or 5 kilometres up the lakeshore.

Bardolino marina. Bardolino, by the way, produces a nice DOC red wine that can usually be got quite cheaply.

The parochial church of Saints Nicolò and Severo is at the end of the high street. The present town seems to be attested from 983 when the Emperor Otto II granted permission to build defensive castles along the lakeshore, though that permission might have been given earlier at the time of the Magyar depredations in this region in the 920s.

Bardolino was evidently a free commune by the 12th century, and was subsequently refortified and walled all round by the Scaligers during their ascendancy on the lake. Under the Venetians, there was an important naval base here, but in 1526 the town was sacked by the unruly German Landsknecht mercenaries (on their way to the Sack of Rome in 1527).

Once upon a time, there might have been a US flag up there.

Three kilometres farther north, we're stopping at the town of Garda proper.

A street market

From Garda we turn westward near Punta St Vigilio and head across the lake.

A faster boat goes by us, going the other way.

A slower boat goes by us, going the other way.

A quick stop at Portese, then across the bay . . .

. . . to Gardone Rivera . . .

. . . and its huge Grand Hotel.

Gardone Rivera, home of Gabriele D'Annunzio, the crazy proto-fascist poet and playwright, boyfriend of Eleanor Duse

And we process into the bay towards Salò. That's the Duomo di Santa Maria Annunziata, begun in 1453.

Salò, presumably though no fault of its own, was the de facto capital of the German-backed Italian Social Republic for 19 months in 1943-1945, under its puppet president Mussolini

Historically, Salò resisted the Veronese control of the lake under the Scaligers and managed to become a strong outpost of the Visconti of Milan; Beatrice della Scala (daughter of Mastino II of Verona), who was married to the fierce Bernabò Visconti, talked her husband into making Salò the capital of the associated comunes along the western side of Lake Garda, and in 1377 a castle and city walls were duly provided.

We visited Salò a few years ago, in better weather, and there are some more photos here.

After an hour's walkabout, we're booking our tickets for the return trip. There's an odd thing about the prices for this boat line (aside from the fact that the uncivil young chap in the Sirmione ticket booth really really wanted us to buy one way tickets at either end rather than round trips): the round trip out and back to Salò for each of us cost €19.60, not too unreasonable. But a few days later, when we wanted to go across just to the first stop, Lazise, and back again, the ticket for each of us cost €19.60. We provide appropriate commentary and found something else to do instead.

No break in the rain

Green Soul, ouch.

The Tavern of the Shields, with the famous Hamburger XXL

Time to go

The Duomo di Salò

Back past Gardone in a downpour

Here they come.

Back to Sirmione

A half-hearted tourist train in Sirmione

Late afternoon sunlight on the Castello


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 20 July 2016.


Recent Events