Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero)
The Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero or Rocca Scaligera) guards the entrance to the medieval town of Sirmione, which is set on the tiny Sirmione peninsula that juts out into Lake Garda and has been a popular resort town since the first century BC, thanks to its natural hot springs. Today, the Scaliger Castle is one of the most popular sights on Lake Garda; it’s a highlight of day trips from Milan or Florence, which often include stops at the Church of San Pietro in Mavino and the Grottoes of Catullus Roman ruins. A particularly picturesque way to see the castle is by boat on a Lake Garda mini-cruise or sunset cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
The castle is wheelchair accessible. There are 150 steps to the top of the main tower, so this attraction is only recommended for those in good shape.
With its fairytale-like turrets and towers, the castle can be fun kids.
Views over the lake from the castle are spectacular, so be sure to bring your camera.
The historic center (centro storico) of Sirmione is pedestrian only and requires a bit of walking. Comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen are all recommended.
How to Get There
Sirmione is located in the province of Brescia, about halfway between Milan and Venice. The train stops in the lakeside town of Desenzano del Garda; from there, take a local bus that stops on Piazza Castello, right near the castle. The easiest way to visit, however, is by joining a tour that includes transportation.
When to Get There
Northern Italy's lakes, including Garda, Como, and Maggiore, are particularly crowded in summer, so the best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the weather is mild but sights like the Scaliger Castle are less crowded.
The History of Scaliger Castle
Verona's powerful Scaliger (also known as Della Scala) dynasty had the fortress built to protect the town from attack, and its crenelated towers and fortified walls dominate the sheltered harbor once used by the Scaliger fleets. The castle changed hands over the centuries, but was still used as a garrison until the 19th century; it lost its strategic importance only after the unification of Italy.
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