|Comune di Sirmione|
|Frazioni||Colombare di Sirmione, Lugana, Rovizza|
|• Mayor||Alessandro Mattinzoli|
|• Total||33 km2 (13 sq mi)|
|Elevation||68 m (223 ft)|
|• Density||230/km2 (600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||25019, 25010|
Sirmione is a comune in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy (northern Italy). It is bounded by the comunes of Desenzano del Garda (Lombardy) and Peschiera del Garda in the province of Verona and the region of Veneto. It has a historical centre which is located on the Sirmio peninsula that divides the lower part of Lake Garda.
The first traces of human presence in the area of Sirmione dates from the 6th-5th millennia BCE. Settlements on palafitte existed in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE.
Starting from the 1st century BCE, the area of the Garda, including what is now Sirmione, became a favourite resort for rich families coming from Verona, then the main Roman city in north-eastern Italy. The poet Catullus praised the beauties of the city and spoke of a villa he had in the area.
In the late Roman era (4th-5th centuries CE) the city became a fortified strongpoint defending the southern shore of the lake. A settlement existed also after the Lombard conquest of northern Italy: in the late years of the Lombard kingdom, the city was capital of a judiciary district directly subordinated to the king. Ansa, wife of King Desiderius, founded a monastery and a church in the city.
Around the year 1000 Sirmione was probably a free comune, but fell in the hands of the Scaliger in the early 13th century. Mastino I della Scala was probably the founder of the castle. In the same period Sirmione was refuge for Patarines hereticals. The military role of the city continued until the 16th century, but a garrison remained in the castle until the 19th century.
The main historical landmark of Sirmione is the so-called Grotto of Catullus (Grotte di Catullo), the most striking example of a Roman private edifice discovered in northern Italy. The edifice had a rectangular plan and measured 167 x 105 m. The town is famous for its thermal springs.
Other sights include:
- The Scaliger Castle (13th century), including a rare example of medieval port fortification, which was used by the Scaliger fleet.
- The church of San Pietro in Mavino, built in Lombard times but renovated in the 14th century. It has frescoes from the 12th-16th centuries, while the Romanesque bell tower is from 1070.
- Santa Maria Maggiore (1400) with a single nave decorated with 15th-century frescoes and a contemporary wooden statue of the Madonna Enthroned.
World heritage site
- The poet Gaius Valerius Catullus lived in the 1st century BC. His family owned a villa in Sirmione.
- Alfred Tennyson described in a poem his impressions of Sirmione in the summer of 1880.
- Italian writers who wrote about Sirmione include Giosuè Carducci, Antonio Fogazzaro and Gabriele D'Annunzio.
- Ezra Pound and James Joyce met in the city in 1920.
- Maria Callas had a villa in Sirmione.
- English writer Naomi Jacob lived in Sirmione until her death in 1964. A small plaque in Sirmione commemorates her.
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