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Sirmione: Tour ruins of first-century Roman villa at Garda

The Grottoes of Catullus have nothing to do with caves, or Cattulus. But it is still easy to see how the place got its name. The ruins of a Roman villa at the end of the town of Sirmione on Italy’s Lake Garda resembled a series of caves when they were rediscovered in the 15th century. The villa was named for the Veronese poet Gaius Valerio Cattulus because he owned a home on the peninsula that he described in loving terms. Today, researchers believe the extensive ruins are from a grand home started near the end of the first century B.C., after the poet is believed to have died. It was built for a wealthy family from Verona, in whose territory Sirmione lay during the Roman period. The villa is on the end of a tip of land poking into the lake, with gorgeous views on three sides.

Information: The city’s official Web site, www.comune.sirmione.bs.it, includes some tourist information, but is in Italian only. The city’s tourist office is at Viale Marconi 2; its telephone number is 030-916-114.

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