Sirmione has given host to highly prominent figures, writers, actors and personalities of the jet set, as guests of private houses, wonderful villas and luxurious hotels. Today, you are the VIPs, so consult with the Consortium of Hotels and Restaurants of Sirmione for your most suitable accommodation. And stay away from the paparazzi!
It was with no whim that the ‘Tenuta Roveglia’ winery decided the name of one of its Lugana DOC products, ‘Filo di Arianna’, or ‘Ariadne's Thread’. Discover this by retracing history, in the company of the owner Paolo Fabiani, through the old 15th century cellar and through the oldest and most extensive vineyards of the area. Join the owner in an exquisite tasting of the products of this venerable native vine. It will be a thread to which you’ll be tied forever.
Tenuta Roveglia // Loc. Roveglia n.1, Pozzolengo // Lunedì al Sabato dalle 8:00 alle 18:00 // www.tenutaroveglia.it
Arrive early at the estate of ‘Podere Cascina Capuzza’ to savour, before the excellent cuisine, the country-chic atmosphere of the place. Surrounded by vineyards, with truffle woods delimiting the perimeter, its centre is the stone wine cellar fronted with a beautiful portico. A place where harmony reigns and which reflects the vision of the owner, Luca Formentini, who is also the President of the Consortium of Lugana DOC. Over lunch, taste the distinctive wines that are produced here and let Luca reveal the secrets of the craft while walking with him between the rows of vines. And get yourself invited to the harvest. .
Cascina Capuzza // Desenzano del Garda // Aperto a pranzo e cena dal giovedì alla domenica //www.selvacapuzza.it
The visit to the Roman ruins known as the ‘Grottoes of Catullus’ (every day except Mondays, 9-6 pm from April to September, and 9-4pm from October to March) is also an excuse to go up, by a short walk from the historic centre, to the end of the peninsula of Sirmione, which offers a splendid panoramic view. Then you walk down to the ‘Lido delle Bionde’, one of the most beautiful (and hidden) beaches of Garda. So don’t forget your swimsuit!
The lake is dotted with marinas, hidden beaches and piers that extend into the water. Let yourself be guided by the lakeside walks to find the perfect spot for you. Prepare a wicker basket with some bread drizzled with Garda caper pesto and a couple of wine flutes for a toast with the “Garda white”, the preferred sparkling wine of Maria Callas.
Make the evening special and ask for a recommendation by calling the Consortium of Hotels and Restaurants of Sirmione. You’ll have dinner with the stars.
Let the night and your own instinct lead you on among the alleys and squares, where you will constantly be rewarded with glimpses of the lake. After a busy day, the divine voice of Maria Callas will be the perfect soundtrack (found in the app). Her presence still very much lingers in Sirmione, much loved by her until she followed her heart to Greece and Aristotle Onassis. Make a connection with her voice and draw pleasure from the accompaniment of the lapping waves of the lake, the lights on the water and the many fireworks that light up the summer shores.
Let's shop. If you have modern tastes and are easily teased by the great variety on offer in fashion, you won’t be disappointed by the luxury boutiques and elegant prêt-à-porter stores in Desenzano. You will really be spoilt for choice. Every first Sunday of the month, there is also an important antiques market, and, open all year, many small specialty food shops, to bring some of the flavours of Garda home. Most of all, you’ll want to take back a sample of the Lugana DOC wines and Garda DOP extra virgin olive oils. Some advice? Visit the old olive press of ‘Montecroce in Desenzano’ (guided tours by appointment, www.frantoiomontecroce.it - tel/fax +39 030 9911504 - firstname.lastname@example.org). You will not be able to leave without a souvenir.
The midday sun floods the landscape around Lake Garda from Desenzano to Sirmione, across a scattering of ancient hamlets and fields where the breeze sways the leaves of silvery olive trees and rows of white grapes ripen in the brilliance of the daylight. The estate of ‘Agriturismo Cascina Feliciana’ is a place to really relax and has just a few rooms, a restaurant and well-being area. Lunch at tables under the pergola and take a dip in the pool among the vines. There are 12 Lugana DOC labels of wine, grappa and dessert wine to sample and an excellent extra virgin olive oil. Ask the owner Massimo Sbruzzi for a recommendation. Will you have enough room in your luggage?
Azienda Agricola Feliciana // Loc. Feliciana, Pozzolengo // da aprile a settembre chiusi il martedì // www.feliciana.it
The vineyards have history and roots in the past, but evolve through family generations. To give you an idea of the ambition of vine cultivators visit ‘La Perla del Garda’ at Lonato del Garda. This ambition has brought the vineyards up onto the “stony and arid” morainic hills, where the fruit is handpicked and made wine “a cascata”, using gravity fermentation at three cellar levels. This is also a place of design and makes a great visit. Let yourself be guided by Giovanna Prandini, its creator. Only she can reveal the secrets of her Lugana DOC wines and those of the ‘Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori del Garda’ association.
La Perla del Garda // Via Fenil Vecchio, 9 Lonato del Garda // www.perladelgarda.it
The rolling hills of the ‘Lower Lake’ are well-suited to horse riding, to cantering slowly along the paths between rows of vineyards and olive groves, the lake seemingly so close you can almost touch it. Talk to one of the many riding clubs in the area, to see Garda from a very different perspective.