Grotte di Catullo

Top choice in Sirmione

Occupying 2 hectares at Sirmione's northern tip, this ruined 1st-century-AD Roman villa is a picturesque complex of teetering stone arches and tumbledown walls, some three storeys high. It's the largest domestic Roman villa in northern Italy and wandering its terraced hillsides offers fantastic views.

Despite the name, there's no evidence Catullus lived here, although the poet did have a home in the village. Significantly, the living quarters were on the top floor, offering 360-degree vistas of the surrounding waters; it seems the Romans too liked rooms with a view.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sirmione attractions

1. Chiesa San Pietro in Mavino

0.19 MILES

Sirmione's oldest church and its crumbling bell tower date from the 14th century, though it was built on the site of a much older temple. The surprisingly…

2. Rocca Scaligera


Expanding their influence northwards, the Scaligeri of Verona built this enormous square-cut castle right at the entrance to old Sirmione. Rising out of…

3. Villa Romana

3.82 MILES

Before the Clooneys and Versaces, wealthy Roman senators and poets had holiday homes on Italy's northern lakes. One survivor is Desenzano’s now-ruined…

4. Parco Archeologico Rocca di Manerba

4.32 MILES

Protected by Unesco, the gorgeous 'rock of Minerva' juts out scenically into the lake just north of Moniga del Garda. The park contains the remaining low…

5. Punta San Vigilio

5.99 MILES

The leafy headland of Punta San Vigilio curls out into the lake 3km north of Garda. An avenue of cypress trees leads from the car park towards a gorgeous…

6. Parco Baia delle Sirene

6.05 MILES

The privately owned Parco Baia delle Sirene rents sun loungers beneath the trees on Punta San Vigilio's beach. Entry is free at sunset.

7. Promenade

6.05 MILES

Paved in waves of marble and brick, Lazise's promenade is the best on this side of Lake Garda. Grab an ice cream, feed the swans and lap up those views.

8. Chiesa di San Nicolò


The Romanesque Church of Saint Nick, the patron of fishermen, sits squat by the lapping harbour as it has done since the 11th century. Inside lurk the…