Desenzano del Garda is today a lively town of about 25,000 inhabitants located at the south-west end of Lake Garda. At the center of a large gulf bordered to the west by the Monte Corno hill and to the east by the Sirmione peninsula, it is in a privileged geographical position from which one can admire the most beautiful European lake in its maximum extension.
The toponym Desenzano derives from the Latin name of person Decentius, the owner of the farm and of the villa of the IV century of which today it is possible to visit the excavations. There is also an etymology of popular origin: since the village stretches along the hilly slope the toponym is connected with descent.
The Municipality assumed its present name in 1926 when, within the framework of reorganization of local administrations, the ancient Municipality of Rivoltella sul Garda was suppressed (constituted autonomously at least since the XIII century) and the territory of this was aggregated to the neighboring Municipality of Desenzano del Lake. The Paris – Berne – Milan – Venice – Zagreb railway line, the courier service extended also to Veneto and Trentino, the regular navigation lines on the entire lake, the motorway tollbooth (Autostrada A4 “Serenissima”) and the proximity at the airports of Montichiari and Verona make it a node of such importance that Desenzano can rightly boast of being considered the “capital of Garda”. Desenzano, therefore, is a place that offers the possibility of intelligent tourism, which aims to combine rest and fun with a stimulating search for landscapes and fascinating historical-environmental memories. Added to this is the proximity of cities rich in artistic masterpieces such as Verona, Mantua and Brescia.
Immediately south of Desenzano is the largest morainic amphitheater in Italy, which lends itself to relaxing and healthy walks in the hills in search of picturesque villages. Therefore in Desenzano, besides resting and enjoying the comfort of a modern city with a marvelous pedestrianized historic center, you can plan short excursions to vary your stay.
In less than an hour, it is possible to reach Monte Baldo (over 2,000 meters above sea level), thus moving swiftly from the Mediterranean to the Alpine flora. Sports enthusiasts can practice wind-surfing, mountain biking, free flight, skiing.
For the young and the tireless there is no lack of discos and piano bars, while the less young can stroll along the lakefront or under the arcades of the central Piazza Malvezzi. In winter the climate is temperate and without fog and in summer the breeze from the lake never fails.
Sirmione is located along the peninsula of the same name that extends into Lake Garda for about four kilometers and divides the southern lake shore into two parts. Part of the municipal territory extends to the east of the peninsula to include that of Punta Grò.
The hinterland extends towards the morainic hills that surround the southern part of the lake itself and includes a part of the Lugana production area. The municipality borders south-east with Peschiera del Garda and south-west with Desenzano del Garda. The section on the lake borders to the east with Lazise and Castelnuovo del Garda and to the north with Padenghe sul Garda.
The area of lower Lake Garda has been the site of settlements since ancient times thanks to the mild climate and the fertility of the territory. This has made this land rich in history and particularly attractive for lovers of art and culture.
Villa Romana di Desenzano
It seems, belongs, to the Roman citizen Decentius from which the toponym Desenzano originates. At the entrance of the Villa there is an archaeological museum. For visiting hours, consult the institutional website of the Municipality of Desenzano.
Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione
The term “caves” refers to the remains of an imposing Roman villa that presumably belonged to Caio Valerio Catullo (87-54 BC), a famous Latin poet. The scenery in which the ruins overlooking the lake are immersed is splendid. For information call the info center of the Catullo’s caves: 030916157
Rocca Visconteo-Veneta di Lonato
It was built around the year 1000 against the barbarian invasions and was then restored by the Lords of Milan, the Visconti, in the 15th century. It has been a national monument since 1912 and today houses the Ornithological Civic Museum.
Rocca Scaligera di Sirmione
The walls and crenellated towers of this castle built by Mastino I della Scala in 1259 are interesting. Today it is considered one of the most complete and best preserved castles in Italy.
It was built on the foundations of a Roman castrum in the early Middle Ages. Thanks to its privileged position, it offers from the terrace a splendid view of the lake that many count among the best on Lake Garda. For further information: Municipality of Desenzano.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena of Desenzano
Designed by Giulio Todeschini in the area of the ancient church, it was never completed. Inside, with the pictorial cycle dedicated to Mary Magdalene and a painting by Tiepolo, it is considered one of the most beautiful examples of the late Renaissance in the province of Brescia.
Santa Maria Maggiore in Sirmione
An admirable example of fifteenth-century architecture, it is a jewel within the medieval village of Sirmione. Note the terracotta decorations and the apse structure.
Pieve Romanica of S. Zeno di Lonato
It is the oldest church in Lonato. Rebuilt in the 12th century on the remains of the primitive church probably dating back to the 5th century, it preserves the original Romanesque apse and inside traces of early medieval frescoes.
Church of San Lorenzo in Pozzolengo
Parish of 1510 subject to various expansions and renovations in the ‘700. It has a neoclassical facade with a large central window and an imposing bronze door. Note the seventeenth-century organ inside and the paintings by Brusasorci and Andrea Celeste.