Thursday, 5 July 2018

post-dated post script: sirmione

Having learned rather late that Manerba did indeed have a port sufficiently deep enough to permit ferries to dock and connect it to the other towns and villages along Lake Garda, we crossed towards Dusano and boarded the ferry to take another look at the ancient town and strategic port fortifications at the head of the promontory that divides the southern part of the lake.
Helpfully there was a chart of Lidl di Garda in the passenger ferry that we had mostly to ourselves to aid with orientation. A popular retreat from Verona and Venice for Roman administrators for millennia, one of the early house-proud famous residents of the resort town was the poet Catullus—versifier of love, invectives and works of condolence (opera singer Maria Callas was a later one), whom also lent his name to a grotto containing one the best-preserved examples of a private home of the first century and one of the town’s chief sites.
The other landmark of Sirmione is the bastion in the harbour, the Scaliger (nobles of Verona) castle compound built in the late eleventh century.
Surrounded by a system of moats and drawbridges that are navigable by nimbler boats still to this day afforded a protected place for the fleet—becoming an outpost of the thalassocracy of Venice and later part of the Austro-Hungarian holdings—to be launched and serviced in safety and shielded from enemy scouts trying to assess their opponents’ strength.