The Rocca Scaligera Castle of Sirmione is a fortress of the Scaligeri era, an access point to the historic center of Sirmione.
It is one of the most complete and best-preserved castles of Italy, as well as a rare example of lacustrine fortification.
In 2014 it was the twenty-seventh most visited Italian state site, with 224,498 visitors and a total gross income of 555,768 euros.
The Rocca Scaligera castle is bathed on all sides by the waters of Lake Garda, and on one of these sides was built, shortly after the construction of the castle, the dock, which once represented the place of refuge of the Scaligera fleet.
The walls and the three massive main towers are characterized by the dovetail battlements that characterize each building in Verona: behind these three towers, the imposing mastio emerges, 47 meters high, under which the cells were destined to prisoners.
Once it was possible to access the fortress both from the outside of the town and from the village itself through drawbridges, while today it is possible to enter only from the village.
Through doors equipped with effective locking systems, you access the large portico, inside which there is a staircase that leads to a drawbridge.
From here, via a ramp of 146 steps, you can reach the ramp walkways of the walls, from which you can appreciate the dock.
Even the dock is defended by towers that, unlike those inside the castle, are not characterized by the swallow-tail battlement but by a base structure called a spearhead.
This feature, together with the use of bricks and stones from nearby areas, denotes a different period of construction. On one side of the dock, there is an external moat that flows directly onto the lake.
The construction of the Rocca Scaligera fortress began around the middle of the 13th century, probably on the remains of a Roman fortification.
Its realization was ordered by the mayor of Verona Leonardo Della Scala, better known as Mastino Della Scala.
The function of the Rocca Scaligera castle was defensive and of port control, since the city of Sirmione, being in a border position, was more exposed to aggression.
About a century later, two courtyards and an independent fortification were added, joined by a barbican to the main one, to increase the fortress’s defenses.
In 1405 Sirmione passed under the control of the Republic of Venice during whose domination began a work of strengthening the defensive structures.
It was during this period that the dock was made visible today, although it is supposed that there was already a Scaliger, probably wooden, dock.
Sirmione maintained the primacy of a defensive post until the 16th century, when, for political reasons, the fortress of Peschiera del Garda was modernized.
Inside the large internal portico of the castle, a Roman and medieval lapidarium has been set up, as well as a brief exhibition in which some of the most important information on the fortress is shown on some panels.
You can also access the ramparts of the walls and, through the recently restored wooden stairs, you can reach the top of the keep, the highest tower of the fortress.
It is said that long ago in the castle lived a boy named Abelardo with his beloved Arice: the two young people spent a peaceful life until their love was interrupted by a tragic episode.
During a stormy night, he asked for shelter in the castle Elalberto, a Venetian knight from the territory of Feltre.
The couple hosted the knight who, however, was amazed by the beauty of the girl, during the night he reached her in his room.
Arice started screaming frightened and Elalberto stabbed her. Meanwhile, Abelardo ran to the room where he found Alice lifeless, so that, blinded by rage, he seized the dagger and killed Elalberto.
Legend has it that even today, on stormy nights, we can see the soul of Abelardo wandering around the castle in search of Alice.
*This article was originally published at it.wikipedia.org