A Journey through Time in Desenzano del Garda

Mara Noveni | Live the World

May 29, 2024

Desenzano del Garda is a town on the southwestern shore of Lake Garda in northern Italy. It is located in the Lombardy region and is known for its beautiful lakefront promenade, historic old town, and charming architecture. The town is also a popular tourist destination and is well-known for its beautiful beaches, a medieval fortress, and an ancient Roman villa. Desenzano del Garda is also a great base for exploring other charming towns around the lake, such as Sirmione, Peschiera del Garda, and Gardone Riviera. So, lets go out for a journey through time in Desenzano del Garda!

© iStock / FooTToo

Desenzano is the liveliest city on Lake Garda, dynamic and perfect for those who want to experience a holiday of relaxation, culture and fun. This town on the Lombard side of the lake offers a lot to do, from relaxing walks along the lakefront and on the large tourist port to shopping in the city centre, up to the sparkling nightlife.

Let's not forget the beaches where you can sunbathe during summer, with breathtaking views of the opposite shore and the many places of interest, such as the medieval castle and the archaeological museum.

The Archaeological Museum is also worth a visit, given that this area was inhabited since the Bronze Age, so much so that artefacts from pile-dwelling settlements have been found, preserved over the millennia in peat bogs or submerged in the lake. These settlements, in 2011, were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Visit the Castle of Desenzano del Garda

The castle dominates the city from the top of the hill and enjoys one of the most beautiful views over Lake Garda. It is a medieval fortress located on the hill of the old village. It was built in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 14th century after being destroyed by fire. Today the castle can be visited and offers splendid views of Lake Garda. Inside, it is possible to visit the Archaeological Museum which exhibits Roman and medieval finds from the surrounding area. In summer, the castle also hosts various exhibitions and cultural events.

© iStock / Paul Antonescu

Walk along the promenade

The promenade along the lakefront of Desenzano del Garda is one of the main attractions of the city. It stretches for about 3 kilometres and offers a spectacular view of Lake Garda. Along the way, you can find many coffee shops and restaurants where you can taste local specialities, as well as stores and boutiques for shopping. The promenade is also the perfect place for a romantic sunset walk or an early morning jog. It also leads directly to the beach where you can relax and enjoy the sun.

© iStock / Paul Antonescu

Explore the historic centre

The historic centre of Desenzano del Garda is an enchanting place rich in history. Here, you can admire the narrow and picturesque streets, squares and ancient churches. The heart of the historic centre is Piazza Malvezzi, a large square surrounded by historic buildings, with a central fountain. Here are also the Cathedral of Desenzano, a Romanesque church from the 12th century, and the Palazzo Todeschini, an elegant Renaissance palace. The historic centre is an ideal place to take a romantic walk or to enjoy the authentic atmosphere of Italy.

© iStock / Sander Meertins

Visit the Roman Villa

The Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda is an archaeological site located a few steps from the historic centre. It was discovered by chance in 1921 and is thought to date back to the 1st century CE. The villa has a series of rooms with ancient mosaics and frescoes, which narrate the daily life and habits of the Roman age. The site was restored and opened to the public in 2015 and offers visitors the opportunity to take a journey through time through the history of ancient Rome.

© Beni Culturali / unknown

Take a boat tour of Lake Garda

The boat ride on Lake Garda is an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend you try! There are many companies offering guided boat tours, which will take you to visit the most beautiful attractions of the lake, such as the Grotte di Catullo, the Baia delle Sirene and the city of Sirmione. You will be able to admire the wonderful panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains and enjoy the sun and the fresh lake breeze. In addition, some companies also offer the possibility of swimming or diving in the lake, if you are interested in these activities.

For example, you can book a Half-Day Lake Garda Cruise starting from Peschiera del Garda, which includes the accompaniment of an expert guide, a visit to Isola del Garda, Jamaica Beach and the Grotte di Catullo, a light lunch on board and a stop for a swim in the clear waters of Lake Garda.

© Get Your Guide / unknown

Relax on the beaches

Desenzano del Garda is famous for its beaches, which stretch along Lake Garda for several kilometres. The largest and most popular beach in Desenzano is the Spiaggia d'Oro, which is located a short walk from the historic centre. Here you will find a wide golden sandy beach, equipped with sunbeds, parasols and changing rooms, as well as a wide range of restaurants, coffee shops and shops. Other popular beaches in Desenzano include Spiaggia di Rivoltella, Spiaggia di Desenzanino, and Spiaggia di San Martino della Battaglia. All these beaches offer crystal clear waters and a breathtaking view of Lake Garda, as well as many water activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and pedal boating.

Go wine tasting

Desenzano del Garda is famous for the production of fine wines. The cellars in the area offer a wide variety of wine, including Groppello, Chiaretto, Lugana and Bardolino.

The Ca' dei Frati Winery is one of the most famous in the area, known for the production of high-quality white wines. The Zenato Winery is another popular option, known for its red wines, especially Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella. If you are interested in visiting other wineries in the area, I recommend you to visit Le Chiusure Winery, Sgreva Winery and Avanzi Winery, all located in the vicinity of Desenzano del Garda. All of these wineries offer wine tastings and tours of their facilities, where you can learn all about winemaking and tasting some of the best wines in the region.

If you are a wine lover, I also recommend you to visit the Valpolicella wine cellars, which are located about an hour away from Desenzano del Garda. Here you will be able to taste some of the best wines in the region and learn all about winemaking. You can directly book a 1.5-Hour Guided Winery Tour with Wine Tasting, which includes a guided tour of the cellar and a wine-tasting experience with a sommelier. The tasting includes a selection of six wines and a visit to the vineyards.

© Get Your Guide / unknown

Explore the nearby towns 

If you are interested in visiting historic cities, I recommend visiting Sirmione, which is only 10km away. Here you can visit the Castello degli Scaligeri, the Grotte di Catullo, the Terme di Sirmione and the Church of San Pietro in Mavino. Other historic towns nearby include Peschiera del Garda and Lazise.

Finally, if you are a fan of outdoor activities, I recommend you visit the Lessinia Regional Natural Park, which is located about an hour away from Desenzano del Garda. Here you can go hiking, trekking and mountain biking.

For those travelling with children or teenagers, an experience not to be missed is spending at least one day in Gardaland, the city of entertainment. You can buy the Open Date Entry Ticket directly, thus avoiding having to stand in long queues at the entrance. The ticket is open-ended, and children under 100 cm in height have free admission.

© Get Your Guide / unknown

Take a bike tour

There are many possibilities for cycle tourism enthusiasts near Desenzano del Garda, and for those who don't have a bike with them, it is possible to rent a bike and explore the beautiful countryside around the lake. One of the most popular options is the Garda cycle route, a scenic cycle path that stretches over 140 kilometres along the shore of Lake Garda. This route offers wonderful views of the lake and surrounding countryside and allows you to visit many picturesque towns and villages along the way.

Another recommended cycle itinerary is the route that crosses the hills of Valtenesi, which extends south of Desenzano del Garda. This route crosses vineyards and olive groves and allows you to visit small villages and towns such as Padenghe sul Garda, Moniga del Garda and San Felice del Benaco.

© iStock / kitzcorner

Try the local cuisine

Desenzano del Garda has many excellent restaurants where you can try the delicious local Italian food. The local cuisine of Desenzano del Garda is influenced by both Italian cuisine and Lombard cuisine and offers a variety of delicious dishes. One of the typical dishes of the area is "risotto con lo spiedo", a creamy risotto with pork, chicken and sausage served with a skewer of grilled meat. If you are a fish lover, I suggest you try the "risotto con la tinca" or the "trota alla gardesana", a fresh trout from Lake Garda served with potatoes and grilled vegetables. Furthermore, you cannot miss the "polenta e osei", a typical dish of the area based on polenta served with game birds such as quails, pheasants and thrushes. As for desserts, try the "sbrisolona", a crunchy almond-based cake.

© iStock / ALLEKO

Well, I hope I have given you a positive experience with a Journey Through Time in Desenzano del Garda, and I have aroused your curiosity and desire to visit this splendid Italian town. Desenzano del Garda awaits you!

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