I saw an amazing picture on one of the Earth Pictures twitter accounts of a “sinking castle” in Italy. I went mad trying to find it, as I knew I’d be travelling there in a matter of weeks and it looked breathtaking. I managed to track it down to Scaliger Castle in Sirmione on Lake Garda; just 3 hours away from our base in Pisa. It was time to consider car hire, as you can see Scaliger Castle looked like a sight not to be missed. I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful Lake Garda was so when we arrived and saw how nice the weather was and how many beauty spots there were to explore we realised that a few hours wouldn’t be enough and we grabbed a hotel for the night. This was my favourite spot of the whole Italy tour and thank god that picture got retweeted onto my timeline as I might have missed out on a view I’ll never forget. The town of Sirmone itself is completely behind the walls of Scaliger Castle and is full of cobbled winding streets and tiny souvenier shops. Expect to pay around €5 for an ice cream though, tourist centres all put a premium on food and drink.
Lake Garda looks so inviting for a swim in its turquoise waters and although it’s perfectly legal, we didn’t see anyone willing to take a dip. Further down towards the walled town of Sirmione all the piers were taken up by hotels so there aren’t really many public places to swim. We found a tiny winding alley between some hotels which led right down to the shore and we had a quick dip just to say we’d swam in Lake Garda but it wasn’t very pleasant, it was full of midgies and I got 5 mosquito bites within the space of a few minutes. If you want to swim, Sirmione probably isn’t the place for it but there are plenty of campsites and beaches all around the lake if you’re so inclined.
[Sirmione is located on a narrow peninsula in the Province of Verona. Entrance to Scaliger Castle is a very reasonable €4. Barracuda Bar along the pier is my top tip for cocktails with its outdoor seating area and orange umbrellas, which contrast so beautifully against the backdrop.]
For more tips and beautiful pictures of Italy check out my other blogs on my whistlestop tour of Europe’s shoe.