Grottoes of Catullus
Due to their enviable position on the tip of the peninsular, the Grottoes of Catullus are one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Italy and show the ruins of a Roman villa built between the end of the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD.
They are a must-see not only for history lovers, who can visit the park, the ruins and the adjacent museum, but also for visitors who don’t want to miss out on the incredible views.
In the 15th century travellers mistook the ruins of the Roman villa at the tip of Sirmione for natural caves or grottoes, because they were overgrown with vegetation: their reports overlapped with the popular belief that the site was once the villa owned by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 BC), who had mentioned Sirmione in some of his poetry, but who could have only visited the peninsular before the building was constructed.
The name “Grotte di Catullo”, which derived from these old names, identifies the villa overlooking Lake Garda, which is assumed to have belonged to the Gens Valeria family from Verona.
Sirmione’s Archaeological Museum was inaugurated in 1999 and is located within the archaeological site of the Grottoes of Catullus. It houses artefacts related to the history of Sirmione and Lake Garda, objects from the ancient pile-dwelling sites surrounding the Sirmione peninsula and numerous testimonies of the Roman and Medieval periods found in Sirmione.
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