Take a break from sightseeing and indulge in the Roman pastime of thermal spring bathing. There are several spas around Sirmione but I think the best is Acquaria. It's quite new and in a beautiful setting right by the lake. As well as many smaller bathing pools of different temperatures and massage effects, there is a large natural water pool. Swim through the gateway to get to the outdoor pool. Evening is the best time to go as it's cheaper, less crowded and you can swim under the stars and gaze at the twinkling lights on the other side of the lake. We went in winter which was ideal - the hot waters keep you warm for hours afterwards. A word of warning - the water is sulfurous so the stench stays with you for days!
Terme di Sirmione S.p.A. Piazza Virgilio, 1
25019 Colombare di Sirmione (BS)
+39 030 91681
Google map: bit.ly/Lomvuz
Back in 1990, when England were preparing to be beaten again by Argentina, my boss took me to Italy for a work trip. Since his wife was joining us, I was asked to find somewhere to stay on Lake Garda that was “not too shabby”. The Villa Cortine wasn't quite the exquisite mound of gleaming marble it is today, but its columns and oil paintings gave it a faded aristocratic gracefulness. What really made it, though, was its seclusion and the lush park in which it is still set. Through the palms and conifers, we found our way to the most elegant swimming pool I have ever seen. An occasional leaf, or a fragrant blossom from the overhanging branches, drifted onto the water, while crumbling statues stood sentry at either end. As we lolled in the shallow end with a glass of wine each, it seemed less and less necessary to attend any meetings.
Via Grotte, 6, 25010 Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/R11LYg
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