Top 3 Things to do in Desenzano del Garda Lake Garda Italy – Desenzano del Garda is a beautiful town in the province of Brescia located on the southern shore of Lake Garda. All the towns on Lake Garda benefit from the beauty and being on the lake, but Desenzano has much more to offer. In Desenzano there are also some very interesting historical things to visit, it is a place to be discovered. So let’s see together what are the top things to do in Desenzano del Garda.
TOP Things to do in Desenzano del Garda?
Here is our list of the best things to do in Desenzano del Garda.
- The lakefront
- The beaches
- The castle
- The marina
- The Roman Villa
- Walk to the lighthouse
- Tower of San Martino della Battaglia
We place the lakefront at the top of our list because when you come to visit a town on Lake Garda, one of the first things you normally do is a nice walk along the lakefront.
The lakefront of Desenzano is very nice, even though the walk is not particularly long. There are some fountains, and often, in the area near the tourist port, some installations, sculptures, or writings are placed near, which is nice for taking pictures.
Desenzano has 2 main beaches, one not far from the other:
- “Desenzanino” beach
- The beach divided by the pier
The “Desenzanino” beach is located in front of the Desenzanino restaurant and is divided into 2 parts: a part of the free beach and a part of the beach, which in summer is equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas.
This beach also has a bar where you can have a drink while sitting at the tables.
The beach divided by the pier
This beach is located in the middle of the promenade that goes from the “Desenzanino” beach to the port of Desenzano.
This is also a beach in the summer equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas and you can also rent a colorful pedal boat.
Sunbed, umbrella and pedal boat rental prices
Here are the May 2023 prices for the rental of sunbeds, umbrellas and pedal boats:
- Sunbeds: 5 euros on weekdays and 7 euros on public holidays,
- Umbrella 3 euros per day.
- Pedal boats:
- from 7 to 8 euros, depending on the type of slide, for half an hour
- from 12 to 14 euros for 1 hour
- from 22 to 26 for 2 hours.
The castle of Desenzano del Garda
The castle of Desenzano is a castle dating back to the early Middle Ages, built to defend itself against barbarian invasions. The castle also contained about 120 houses and a church dedicated to S. Ambrogio. The castle of Desenzano sul Garda certainly has a long history behind it and is therefore interesting from a purely historical point of view but not only!
Desenzano Castle address: Via Castello, 63, 25015 Desenzano del Garda BS.
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/XaYyrdpUBPL35Rws8
From the tower of the castle, we can also appreciate a beautiful 360-degree view of the city and the lake. The only small negative note of this panoramic tower of the castle of Desenzano sul Garda is that the observation area is in a closed environment, and it is not possible to overlook it but only to observe through windows that are large in any case. This negative note becomes an advantage for everyone who wants to organize their wedding here.
Surely the space on the tower is not large, but it is ideal for those who want a unique and suggestive wedding for a few close friends.
Old Harbour of Desenzano sul Garda
The Little Harbor of Desenzano Sul Garda is mainly used by fishermen and boatmen. This small harbor is also called the “Old Harbor” as it has been present in Desenzano for a very long time: it was built under the rule of the Republic of Venice well into the sixteenth century.
The Porto Vecchio of Desenzano Sul Garda is a unique and characteristic corner to savor an aperitif in complete relaxation. The palaces and hotels surrounding this small port are very beautiful and characteristic.
The Roman Villa
In Desenzano del Garda, in addition to the castle and the small port, we have something else of historical interest: the ruins of a large Roman villa.
Why visit this Roman villa?
- It is a villa of great historical interest
- the cost of the ticket is low: only 4 euros for each adult (price May 2023)
- These ruins are located just a 5-minute walk from the Old Port.
Roman Villa address: Via Crocefisso, 22, 25015 Desenzano del Garda BS
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/w1nxzaLYhUoBiUf88.
This villa has a long history as it has not only been used over the centuries, but its oldest phase dates back to between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD
The Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda is not the only example of a Roman Villa found on the shores of Lake Garda. In fact, numerous luxury residential villas have been found along the shores of the lake, certainly belonging to rich and important families from the nearby Roman cities of Brescia and Verona.
The villas on the lake differ from the more modest buildings found in the nearby hinterland. The houses in the hinterland also had different purposes. We understand this from the presence of large areas dedicated to rustic for agricultural exploitation. Some examples are the villa of Monzambano in the locality of Mansarine and of Desenzano del Garda in the locality of Faustinella-San Cipriano.
Of the Roman villas found on the shores of Lake Garda, we can say that the richest and best-known buildings are found on the southern and western shores of the lake. They are arranged in a panoramic position overlooking the lake, along the slope of a hill, or built near the shore on one or more levels with a development parallel to the lake. The Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda is precisely part of one of these villas with a development parallel to the lake, which in ancient times was closer to the villa by about 70 meters than today’s coastline.
This villa not only had a utility function but, inspired by the sumptuous imperial palaces, it had a real representative function, a demonstration of the economic wealth and personal power of the owner of the villa, belonging to the class of large owners.
It is, therefore, not surprising that it has been hypothesized that the owner at the time of its maximum splendor was Flavius the Great Decentius, brother of Magnentius, who was emperor between 350 and 353 AD. The current name of the city of Desenzano would also derive from him.
Just think of the high impact that this villa could arouse on visitors at the time of its splendor: the villa originally occupied an area of about 11,000 square meters, it was in a magnificent panoramic position, and moreover the guest or visitor had to follow an obligatory of increasing architectural value up to the presence of the landlord.
The Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda is only partially excavated but constitutes the most important testimony for northern Italy of the large late antique residential buildings inspired by the imperial palaces with the purpose of representation.
We are talking about late antique buildings as most of what we see today of the Roman Villa of Desenzano belongs to the mid-fourth century AD, a period in which the villa underwent a general renovation, both decorative and functional. The villa built between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD occupying an area of land of almost 2 hectares, underwent several renovations over the centuries until the late 5th century AD.
The villa was a complex made up of 3 buildings:
- a sector with the main function of representation and partly residential:
- an initially productive and later residential district;
- the northern sectors, mainly thermal.
In the image above, we see some glimpses of the sector, which in the first half of the 4th century AD had a greater function of representation and also had a great scenographic effect.
From an octagonal entrance hall which was the entrance to the villa towards the lake, one reaches the sumptuous triclinium with three apses intended for the banquets of the owner and his guests. Behind the triclinium, there is a small garden enclosed by a monumental fountain (nymphaeum) and adjacent to rooms with private functions.
Many of the rooms retain large parts of the mosaic floors of which we recognize cupids fishing from the boat and from the rocks, weaving garlands and festoons of fruit, harvesting or racing on chariots, fairs and wild animals, and others.
These mosaics represent themes typical of late antiquity but also allow us to wander our minds and make us imagine glimpses of the life of the people who lived in these areas at the time of the maximum splendor of the villa.
In the historic center of Desenzano, in Piazza Giuseppe Malvezzi, you will find a very interesting building to see from the outside: the Superintendent’s Building. This historic building was the venue for criminal trials and its construction dates back to the sixteenth century to a design by the Brescian architect Giulio Todeschini.
Walk to the lighthouse
It is also very nice to take a walk on the pier of the port of Desenzano, where there is also a lighthouse. This walk allows you to have a broad view of Lake Garda and to see the lakefront of Desenzano from a different point of view.
Tower of San Martino della Battaglia
The Tower of San Martino della Battaglia is located just outside Desenzano del Garda, and you cannot reach it on foot from the center of Desenzano but by car.
The tower was erected in 1880 and is a museum in memory of those people who fought for independence and the unification of Italy. You can reach the top of the tower by climbing some stairs to see a beautiful panorama of Lake Garda and the surrounding area.
After visiting Desenzano, which other 3 towns around Lake Garda I should visit?
After visiting Desenzano, which other 3 towns around Lake Garda I should visit? There are a lot of beautiful towns around Lake Garda you should visit but you can’t miss:
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