With its ideal natural position, the peninsula of Sirmione was privileged place of settlement since ancient times. Still retains many attestations of its long history of continuity, with a density that is rarely found in other towns. The oldest evidence of human presence dating back to the first Neolithic Padano (second half of sixth-fifth millennium BC).
During the ‘Bronze Age’ (III-II millennium BC) lake dwellings are documented along the banks of the lake (Maraschino, port Galeazzi, San Francesco), but isolated discoveries of that period have occurred in some parts of town ( “Caves Catullus, lido Blonde, Via Antiche Mura, gardens at St. Savior). Like other areas of the lake, from the first century BC, the tip of the peninsula becomes a place of residence chosen by rich families of Verona, including that of Valeri. It belonged to the poet Catullus (87-54 A.C.), who sings in a meat beauty of Sirmione and speaks of the house here had. At the end of the first century BC-early first century AD date from the two great Roman villas, the one known as “Grotte di Catullo” and those found in recent years between Mosaic-square-off Via Vittorio Emanueue Ancient Walls. At the base of the peninsula ran the Roman road connecting the cities of Verona and Brescia: at Sirmione, probably in the area of Lugana old, was a stop for travelers, the Sermionese mons, documented in the Itinerary Antonio ( third century AD ).
In late Roman (fourth-sixth centuries A.C.) Sirmione becomes fortified place control of the lower lake has built a defensive wall along the peninsula, a small inhabited settled within the city walls. Also in the Lombard period, starting from the last quarter of the sixth century, there is a insiediamento documented by the remains of huts and a cemetery.
Towards the end of the Lombard kingdom in Sirmione was headed by a vast district (iudiciaria Sermionense), directly dependent on the sovereign. Queen Ansa, wife of the Lombard king Desiderius, founded a monastery and church of San Salvatore. Other churches are mentioned as existing in the town dell’VII in documents Century (San Pietro in Mavino, San Martin, San Vito). The district Sirmione loses its autonomy with Charle Magne, but Sirmione still maintained even after a special relationship with the sovereign, which gets special exemptions and consessioni. Sirmione in the thirteenth century became one of the points in the system of fortification by building the Scaliger Castle probably by Mastino I della Scala. During the same period is the refuge of heretics Patarini, then condemned to the stake in Verona (1278). The function of control and defense, taken in late Roman, will continue until the sixteenth century, when the role of fortified center of the lake will be replaced by Peschiera. The castle still remain until the mid-nineteenth century when military garrison.
Sirmione is located in a strategically important position between the plains and the southern part of the lake, the border territory of worship Scala and subsequently, the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Venetian Republic. And in Venice will remain tied until his fall in 1797. In the nineteenth century the population was devoted to inland fisheries and agriculture, with crops typical of the area, the olive, the vine, the mulberry tree. The development of mass tourism and the consequent large urban transformation of the area date back to the Second World War. To this phenomenon has contributed significantly to the presence of sulfur waters, known for centuries, but whose healing abilities began to be exploited only by the end of last century.
Leaving behind the seat of the CRA-APT to reach the bridge entrance to the fortified village, is already clearly visible with its towering structure Scaliger Castle, with towers and crenellated walls. The fortress, strategically placed to control the only means of access to land, completely surrounded by a moat, was part of a system of fortifications that surrounded the entire medieval town.
The primitive, attributable to Mastino I della Scala (late thirteenth century), was constituted by the keep, from the main courtyard, the three corner towers and the two acccess, the western entrance to the corresponding current and the southern. Successively the building was extended with the lower court to the south, the second access ravelin Castello meridionale, the courtyard and the large eastern basin, among the few that is still preserved, which was to serve as a shelter of the fleet. The construction of this last part is dated to the fourteenth century or a little further. La Rocca was therefore not used as residential building, but as a fortress, still retain function in later centuries. Leaving the castle, take Street Vittorio Emanuele up to meet right away S. Maria Maggiore. Almost at the end of the street is the parish church of St. Maria Maggiore. It was built in the fifteenth century, the entrance porch was added in the seventeenth century, with ancient columns reused (one is a soldier of Julian the Apostate, 361-362 AD). He rectangular and polygonal apse. The interior has a nave about pointed arches set on pilasters., Frescoes of the sixteenth century. From the church, turning along the northern side of the building and down towards Via Antiche Mura, you can see on your right at the edge of lake, a stretch of the crenellated walls of the fortification Scala, with the north-east tower. From Street Antiche Mura, according to Ansa Lombard street, within the municipal gardens in which centuries-old olive trees, lie the remains of the ancient church of S. Savior. And ‘what remains of its religious and monastery, as recent surveys have found to the south lies a vast necropolis excavated in 1998.
Going on the parallel street, closest to the lake, but always within the city park, you can see remains of substantial fortifications that surrounded the age terdoromana peninsula. The path runs along the left some parts of the structure, which still preserves part of a massive tower. These remains belong to the V-VI century are certainly anterior to the Lombard period, when the inside walls of huts huddled up.
The route continues along the promenade of the Muses, until the beach resort of the blonde. Here, going towards the main road that leads to the “Grotte di Catullo“, it meets another long distance (over 100 meters) of late Roman fortifications on the peninsula.
They have a different wall structure from the remains already observed near S. Salvatore and belong to a date slightly earlier (IV-V century). This is the first core of the ring of fortifications which covered only the northern tip of the peninsula.
Prendento hours to right the way Gaius Valerius Catullus you reach the square Orti Manara and the archaeological area of “Caves of Catullus”. Situated on the extreme part of the peninsula, in an exceptional panoramic position, the remains of a Roman villa known for centuries under the name of “Grotte di Catullo” are the most magnificent example of private building of noble character of all Italy settendrionale. During the Renaissance, the name “cave” was used to indicate that collapsed and buried structures, within which penetrated as in natural cavities.The tradition dates back to the XV and XVI century, has identified this complex as the villa of the poet Catullus, who in his poems speaks of the house he owned in Sirmione. However, there is no certainty that this area is in his villa. The building has a rectangular (167 mx 105 m m), with two fronts on the short sides. To overcome the unevenness of the bedrock on which to support the building foundations were created to support spaces in other areas was necessary to cut the rock. That is why the remains are now kept on different levels.The building is dated to the Augustan period (late first century BC – early I century AD). According to latest surveys the collapse of the structure probably dates from the III-IV century AD along the path of exit from the archaeological site you can see other remnants of fortifications. Belong, as already seen in the eastern section of the blonde beach resort, the industry’s oldest defensive structure (IV-V century). They are built along a natural gradient of the land and are kept for 110 meters in length. The inner core of the masonry is in Pertre local scales arranged in a herringbone pattern and the external face was in horizontal rows. Connect to the western side of the villa, now collapsed, becomes a part of the late Roman defensive structure on the peninsula.
From Orti Manara square resumes via Gaius Valerius Catullus, who leaves soon after to follow the path that goes right to the church of S. Peter in Mavino. This shows a simple gabled façade on which early medieval walled stone fragments.
The irregularity of the plant and the variety of masonry techniques documenting the complex history of the building. Cited by other religious buildings in the peninsula in two documents of the second half of the eighth century, remains part of the original structure (the south side). The bell tower dates back to the Romanesque period (eleventh-twelfth century) in the same period are the frescoes in the apse.A general restoration was in 1320, as indicated by a brick on the side of the portal, the following year was made the cycle of frescoes on the interior side walls. We go back on via Gaius Valerius Catullus, who later left flanks Hill Court, occupied almost entirely by a beautiful park. After the square, take Via Vittorio Emanuele dishes, crossing the center Torico again until you reach Piazza Castello.Along the route crosses the northern gate of access to the fortified medieval village: on the left is a fragment of a walled landmark Constantine (312-337). In Piazza Castello, before the bridge is the fortified church of St. Anne’s Fortress. E ‘constitutive by a priest and a small compartment covered by a barrel vault. Preserves the remains of frescoes in the sixteenth century and stucco of the seventeenth century. Above the altar there is a fragment of a fourteenth-century fresco.