Do you have time one day? A weekend? A longer vacation? There are many things to do and logos to visit in Desenzano, and there is a solution for every need.
Not because it’s nice to be a hasty “tourist”, of course, but to understand and organize yourself on what to see in Desenzano del Garda.
Desenzano in one day or a weekend: what to discover!
For those passing through this village, they can enjoy a day in what is considered the true pulsating center of Garda. A well-known destination both for those looking for beaches and for those who want to have fun among local lakeside, or increase their cultural knowledge with the beauties of this locality.
As an orientation it is good to know that you are in the southern part of the Garda shore, in the Brescia area, and a few kilometers away you have Sirmione, another splendid village overlooking the lake. Your itinerary probably includes these two locations and understanding what to see in one day in Desenzano del Garda. A too hasty itinerary does not help, but you will certainly be able to choose among the tourist and cultural attractions available, especially during the summer season.
The monuments of the historic center: Castle, Cathedral and Porto Vecchio
Definitely worth a visit the spectacular Castle of Desenzano, present for centuries to defend the village from the barbarian invasions, strategically dominating the landscape. Considered almost a terrace on the Benaco, the fortress offers an exceptional panorama that hardly anyone wants to miss if they spend a day in Desenzano.
Coming down from the castle, you can get lost in the streets of the historic center, for a walk among the Renaissance houses, defined with an innovative project at the time by the Brescia architect Giulio Todeschini – in 1580 he built what is now called Palazzo Todeschini, a building arched which today hosts conferences, exhibitions and shows. A curiosity: the last column of the portico houses the stone “of the unemployed” of 1555, where the town auctioneers went up to give the announcements but also those convicted of bankruptcy.
Even the Cathedral of Desenzano is worth seeing for those who love art, for the presence of the painting The Last Supper by Giambattista Tiepolo, and for the Renaissance architecture (disguised by the Baroque facade).
Other interesting places to see are the Palazzo del Provveditore, the Riva lakefront, the lakefront with the monument to General Achille Papa, protagonist of the Great War (made by the same designer of the Vittoriale di D’Annunzio) and a monument to the fallen of all wars. . On many occasions Desenzano was the scene of battles for local or national wars of independence – in 1858 in particular, during the battles of San Martino and Solferino, the nascent Red Cross made Desenzano a village dedicated to hospital care for the wounded. If you have time available, a few kilometers from Desenzano you can visit San Martino della Battaglia and climb the Torre del Borgo.
Very impressive is also the old port, of early medieval origin (13th century) and known for its grain market during the rule of the Republic of Venice. In fact, in Desenzano, many cereals and grains were traded, and the port was a real mine of warehouses known throughout Lombardy. It welcomed boats from the north shore of Lake Garda, which also brought citrus fruits, wines, fabrics, tools and olive oil. Today the port is mostly known for tourist boats, and if you stay a few more days, among the things to do in Desenzano del Garda there are boat trips for hire.
The lakefront has a beautiful promenade and refreshment places for those who want to stop for lunch and dinner.
The Roman villa of Desenzano sul Garda
For those wondering what to see in Desenzano, and loves archeology, certainly a visit should be made to the Roman villa, recovered from the excavations of 1921-23. It is one of the most important late antique villas in the archaeological scenario of northern Italy.
An imposing work, which preserves over 240 square meters of polychrome mosaics, a true spectacle of ancient Roman art on Lake Garda. The ruins date back to different phases, from the end of the 1st century BC. to the fifth century after Christ, to testify to a prolonged life of this building, for a long time. Perhaps the long life of the villa is due to an exclusive environmental situation, enjoying the Garda microclimate, just north of the Via Gallica that connected Bergamo, Brescia and Verona.
During the visit to the villa you will find a large garden, an Antiquarium with the finds and materials of the excavations and an atmosphere of true Eden. If you want to dedicate yourself to the knowledge of history going even further back, you can visit the Giovanni Rambotti Archaeological Museum, where the oldest plow in the world is kept.
It is the most complete plow that can be seen today, dating back to the Bronze Age (2,000 years BC). In addition to this find, the museum exhibits prehistoric works and artifacts found along the shores of Lake Garda which represent a unique testimony for those who love history and want to discover the origins of this territory. In fact, finds from the Lombard period and testimonies of the Cathar heresy (12th century) are also exhibited.
Bars in Desenzano, the most social and sporty Garda
The town is lively in all seasons, especially in Piazza Malvezzi in the historic center and in the adjacent streets, you will find clubs, shops, bars for aperitifs and restaurants for dinners. In particular, the road parallel to the lakefront runs for about a kilometer always lively, also for live music and evenings – the nightclubs of Desenzano are known throughout the Garda area.
During the day, obviously among the things to see in Desenzano there are organized beaches with sunbeds and umbrellas, cabins, equipped with bars and kiosks, pedal boat services, boats for hire.
You can relax looking at the Sirmione peninsula or Monte Baldo, and if you love water sports, the reserve village, sailing and surfing schools, water skiing – but not only that, there are also many sports fields and riding stables for horses.
Social life in Desenzano also includes local markets, such as those at the old port, or shopping centers such as Le Vele, with its green winter garden – a reference point especially for the outlet together with the shopping center. The Lion of Lonato.
One week holiday in Desenzano?
At this point you can also move towards not only the aforementioned Tower of San Martino, but also in the hamlet of Rivoltella, known for its beaches and the lakefront that connects it to Desenzano; from Rivoltella there are various itineraries for bicycles, motorcycles, and even horseback in the hinterland.
Nearby there are also splendid naturalistic places such as the Parco delle Ninfee – a water park – or the Tre Stelle Park with the swimming pool, the skateboarding track, sports fields and spaces for picnics.
Among the things to see in Desenzano sul Garda there is also the spectacular oasis of San Francesco: a natural protected area, perfect for birdwatching and walks in the regenerating greenery.
The main square reserves a service of boats and ferries to visit the other Garda towns, connecting the center with different villages and on the other shores, also ensuring an experience of excursions from various perspectives on the Benaco.