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The Catullo Caves are located in Sirmione, on the southern shore of Lake Garda in an enviable panoramic position; the place was originally an ancient and fascinating Roman villa whose history is lost in the mists of time, as far back as the period between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, when it was created.
To get there you need to take a walk or enjoy the train that periodically brings tourists up to the archaeological site.
Catullo Caves are not caves
The name “caves” was attributed in the Renaissance when it used to indicate all those places now in ruins (partially or totally), in which the growing vegetation had wrapped the facilities, giving the impression, as you enter, to be a cave.
There’s not much left of the rectangular map of the villa, despite some restoration has been done. However, following the recommended paths, you can enjoy some beautiful views.
The villa is on multiple levels; the upper one, which was once the home of the nobles, is now the most damaged one so you can admire it walking along the many old paths; the intermediate floors and especially the lowest one are better preserved.
Entering from the ticket office you can stroll by the remains and the olives, walk on the cistern covered by bricks arranged in a herringbone, or admire the scenery of the Lake and the mountains; as a matter of fact, once you are in, you can visit the place freely; you can choose where to go. You can walk on the various floors of the villa, stop at the railing to watch the Lake, pose for souvenir photos near the remains and the arches – the evidence of a double cryptoporticus (the promenade deck at that time) with its many pillars aligned – and all that refers to the splendour of a bygone era.
Where you can see a large olive grove today, at one time there was an open space, the garden of the villa. In the spa area you will find a large pool; other environments such as the horse Cave, the Paradise Bay and the Aula dei Giganti also emphasize the magnificence of the place.
Relax and storia
On hot days a shelter from the Sun and from the heat is offered by the many olive trees among which you can stroll. When fatigue takes over, you can stop and rest on one of the benches along the way.
Before leaving, you should visit the Museum. Here you will see the many artifacts which have been found during the excavations, both in the caves of Toirano and in other villas in the territory; there are also rooms that show materials and artefacts found in the water, which bear witness to the life of the area during the various ages: prehistoric, bronze, Roman and medieval.