And now we present . . . the final chapter in Jane, Ryan, and Baby take Italy 2016!
We took one day trip during our final few days staying on the southern end of Lago di Garda, visiting Sirmione, a small town at the tip of the peninsula that juts into the lake. It was a Roman resort town dating back as far as the 1st century BC. Talk about history!
A scenic 20 minute ride on the ferry boat brought us to the peninsula, and as we approached we were surprised to see an actual castle dominating the town’s skyline.
The ferry deposited us at a typical Italian town square, circled with bustling touristy restaurants and bars.
As we walked through the crowds and turned the corner – BAM! There was Castle Scaligero!
The castle was literally built out into the lake, which created a natural moat around it.
We followed Via Dante which ran along the moat, it was the path shown in the photo below:
As we continued around the corner on Via Dante, we stumbled onto this beautiful restaurant. That’s my kind of dining setting when I’m not traveling with a toddler!
We continued to walk past the castle without a map or any knowledge of the town, and found ourselves on the east shore of the peninsula. There was a large gravel plaza adjacent to the castle.
Then, heading north along the eastern shore of the peninsula we found a path. We couldn’t see much of the town, which was uphill and behind trees on our left, but the views of the lake were breathtaking.
At the end of the shore path we arrived at the Parco Pubblico Tomelleri. From the looks of the large beach dotted with lounge chairs, the town was preparing itself for beach season.
By now it was lunch time, and we decided to eat outdoors at the lakeside Lido delle Bionde Restaurant, knowing full well it was probably a tourist trap. We were able to take Maple out of the baby carrier and let her crawl around a little bit. The food was not memorable, but the view was.
With our bellies full, we wandered up the hill and away from the shore via some charming paths through olive groves. (In checking the map later, I realized it was a public park.)
We stopped so that I could subject Ryan to Happy Family Photos. When you’re in a gorgeous olive grove in Italy, you kind of have to! There were wild red poppies dotting the hillside too. The beauty of it all was just too much, like something out of a movie.
We continued to climb uphill until we found a road at the end of the park. A few twists and turns took us to the very northern tip of the peninsula, by Bar Grotte di Catullo. If we hadn’t had a sleepy baby on our backs, the Bar would have hit the spot. It had a gorgeous outdoor patio where I could easily imagine whiling away the afternoon, Prosecco in hand. But Maple was sound asleep in the baby carrier, so there was no stopping us now!
The tip of the peninsula felt quietly removed from the bustle of the town, and there was an enticing resort hotel as well. The terrain was sandy and scrubby, and felt very Mediterranean all of a sudden.
We curved around and headed south when we were stopped by the most breathtaking gardens across from Chiesa di San Pietro in Mavino.
We tore ourselves away and wound our way back down into the center of town via whatever roads our feet found. Eventually we were back in the crowded tourist center, so it was only natural that we take a Gelato break.
Bellies full (again), we grabbed some sweet treats to take home to friends and family, then decided we’d better head back to the dock and board a ferry for home. Maple had done GREAT with the busy day, but was sure to become a ticking time bomb at any moment.
Maple loved her ferry ride back to our apartment in Desanzano. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe she was finally over her ear infections – but she was in a delightful mood for the rest of the night!