What to do in Desenzano del Garda

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Desenzano del Garda is our destination today, as we explore the “pearls” of the Lake. A municipality in the province of Brescia, it is the most populous town around the entire lake. A cradle of art and history that traces its origins back to the Bronze Age, this culturally rich town will offer you numerous treasures, all waiting to be discovered!

It overlooks the lake in a gulf with an exciting panorama: to the west, you can admire the height of Monte Corno, and to the east, the peninsula of Sirmione. Desenzano is also the homeland of two illustrious citizens: Angelo Anelli, who wrote the libretto for Rossini’s “L’italiana in Algeri”; and Saint Angela Merici, the founder of the Ursuline Order and the patron saint of the city.

The heart of the town revolves around Piazza Malvezzi and the Old Port, where the 16th-century palaces designed by the architect Giulio Todeschini proudly stand. Let’s now delve into the details of the things worth doing and seeing during your stay in Desenzano, on Lake Garda.

What to see in Desenzano

  1. THE CASTLE
    The castle of Desenzano dates back to the early Middle Ages and was expanded in the 15th century to enclose the population. Today, the structure not only offers an unparalleled panorama of the lake but also hosts outdoor theater performances during the summer.
  2. THE ROMAN VILLA
    The Roman villa of Desenzano is located in the heart of the historic center. The building dates back to the end of the 1st century BC, but as often happens, it underwent various construction phases. What we see today dates back to the mid-4th century AD. In 1971, the Antiquarium was inaugurated, an exhibition hall at the entrance of the archaeological area that houses all the objects from the villa excavations.
  3. THE PORT OF DESENZANO
    It underwent renovation in 1887, and during that time, the present-day LIGHTHOUSE was also built. From the lighthouse, don’t miss a romantic walk with a panoramic view of the lake that will lead you to the marina, a fairytale-like place in the center of Desenzano. Nearby, you’ll find shops and the beautiful Palazzo Todeschini, one of the city’s cultural gems.
  4. DUOMO OF SANTA MARIA MADDALENA
    The Duomo stands in the heart of Desenzano and is dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena. It is filled with extremely important works of art, notably Gian Battista Tiepolo’s “The Last Supper,” preserved in the Sacrament Chapel.
  5. VILLA BRUNATI
    It would be a shame to miss a visit to this villa. Built at the end of the 16th century as a holiday residence, it hosted Vittorio Emanuele II after the Battle of San Martino and Solferino in 1859. Currently, it houses the beautiful Civic Library, which contains a vast assortment of books and a media library. Reading a good book from one of the many lake-view terraces is priceless.
  6. THE CIVIC AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
    This museum was inaugurated in 1990 and named after Giovanni Rambotti, the first mayor of Desenzano. It focuses mainly on the prehistoric pile dwellings of the southern Brescia Garda. The very humid environment of the area has allowed these dwellings to be exceptionally well preserved, providing precious information about the lifestyle of that era. Don’t miss the rooms dedicated to the world’s oldest plow, the reconstruction of a prehistoric hut, and the evocative room dedicated to craftsmanship.
  7. THE SAN FRANCESCO OASIS
    This is a protected green area of about 10 hectares, created to preserve and monitor this portion of great natural and landscape interest. Only a part of the area is open to the public, accompanied by useful information, a classroom, and a hide for observing animal species, mainly birds. Open only on weekends from mid-May to mid-September, and only in good weather.

Are you traveling with friends and want to explore Desenzano in an unusual way? Why not try the Outdoor Escape Game and Tour, an outdoor escape game that takes you on a walking adventure through the historic center of Desenzano.

What to see near Desenzano

In San Martino della Battaglia (a district of Desenzano), there’s an essential stop for history enthusiasts as well as those seeking a moment of reflection: the OSSUARY CHAPEL OF SAN MARTINO and the nearby SAN MARTINO DELLA BATTAGLIA TOWER.

These places have the power to evoke feelings of respect and emotion, in memory of the famous battle fought here in 1859. You can ascend the tower after purchasing a ticket. From here, you can enjoy an exceptional view of the surrounding hills.

All that’s left is to remind you to immediately add Desenzano del Garda to your list of cherished places to visit!

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Other things to see on Lake Garda:

Bardolino, a municipality on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, is one of the towns on the lake that attracts the most visitors throughout the year.

Garda is also rich in history and tradition, as witnessed by the various buildings and places of interest that you should not miss during your visit.

Malcesine, the northernmost municipality on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors who flock to the lake in large numbers every year.

Starting right in the heart of the town and walking towards Arco Castle, you will pass picturesque historical buildings as you ascend through narrow cobbled alleys.

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