If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already be very much aware of the fact that I spent last week travelling around Northern Italy. Italy is one of my favourite countries to visit, and I was so glad to tick off a few new places off of my list: during the week we managed to visit Padua, Verona, Venice as well as Sirmione, a beautiful old town on the coast of the even more beautiful Lake Garda.
Even though I really liked every place we visited, I loved Sirmione the most. Getting there was quite hard – the closest train station is 1.5-hour walk away – but as I soon as I saw the old town I knew it was absolutely worth the trouble. Sirmione is surrounded by historic city walls and a castle, and as soon as you step in through the gates, you feel like you’re in a different world altogether.
Even though Sirmione is definitely popular with tourists, it didn’t feel nearly as touristy as many other places we visited. The restaurants felt more like somewhere you would eat even if you lived there, and although there are some souvenir shops, there were also lots of little independent boutiques to choose from too.
The first thing we did was head to the beach. Our original idea was to visit a big one called Jamaica Beach at the end of the peninsula, but, on the way, very close to the old town, we found a lovely public beach and so decided to stay there instead. The water was about 23 degrees Celsius so of course, I went swimming (twice!) and it was just so lovely. I don’t think I’ve been as relaxed in a very long while as I was when I was floating in the water, looking out at the mountains in the distance.
After we had spent a few hours on the beach swimming, napping & reading (my holiday book was Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and it was so good!) it was time to go looking for some gelato. My aim was to have ice cream every single day of the holiday and I’m happy to say that I succeeded. Not that it was that hard…
Other perfect holiday reads for the beach:
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding – classic!
The Secret History by Donna Tartt – one of my favourite books in the world!
One Day by David Nicholls – funny and heartbreaking all the same time
We had decided to stay in Sirmione until the evening because we wanted to witness the sunset over the lake, and so we entertained ourselves by sitting in cafes and walking around, taking in the amazingly colourful architecture and looking into the little shops. I kept spotting places I would have liked to visit if I had more time – one of them being Caruso, which was a beautiful restaurant and bar, with a terrace directly overlooking the lake (on the sunset side, none the less!). I’ve already decided that I want to take my boyfriend there one day..!
When it was time for dinner, we had a lot of places to choose from, but in the end, went for the pizzeria San Lorenzo because it had a very extensive menu and was very atmospheric with its beautiful “roof” made out of leaves and fairy lights. It turned out that my favourite meal out of our whole trip was here, so we definitely made the right choice!
I went for the Penne Arrabbiata and it was so good. It was juicy and full of flavour as well as being just the right level of spicy. I don’t often order pasta in restaurants as I make it home so often, but this was definitely worth venturing out for. It’s the one dish I still think of when I get hungry and wonder exactly how to recreate it back in my kitchen…
Another great thing about San Lorenzo was that all their pizzas could be ordered with a gluten-free base. My friend is a celiac so this was amazing news for her and she said that you could barely tell it was gluten free – it was that good! I think it’s safe to say that we would both go back in a heartbeat…
After dinner and a glass of wine it was time to go see that sunset – and what a sunset it was! It was so beautiful I wanted to cry and just sit there by the water forever, just looking out at the lake and all the beautiful colours the sky was making. I don’t really know how else to try and describe the feeling to you, so I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking. Just imagine that it was about 123 times more beautiful in real life and you’re halfway there. I’m just such a sucker for a good sunrise/sunset!
Our day in Sirmione came to an end after the sun set, and we started heading back to our flat in Verona. As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, the closest train station to Sirmione is Desenzano Del Garda, but it’s about 4.5 miles away. We walked the distance in the morning (it took us about 2 hours with a few detours) but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as the route isn’t the most scenic at all times.
Coming back we took two different buses which took about 1 hour as well as we had to wait 25 minutes for the second bus, but I imagine it will be faster during peak times. Whichever route you choose I promise you it will be worth it when you finally get to Sirmione – that place truly stole my heart!
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