Verona was founded to the site of current Castel San Pietro. This green hill, crowned by cypresses, is home to the remains of the first settlements dating back to the 7th century B.C. From this magnificent vantage-point you can enjoy the view of the whole city spreading out, with its network of Roman Roads, its walls, tall towers and steeples and, if your eyesight is good, you can even make out part of the Arena and the Ponte Scaligero. The current castle was built in 1393, commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti.
At the foot of the hill flows the river Adige, and, on the site of the first ford (used for centuries) the suggestive Ponte Pietra (roman Stone Bridge). At the top of the hill stands the Austrian Fortress erected in the 19th century and which can be reached by a stair-way near the Roman Theatre. He pre-existing castle, on which the fortress rests and from which it takes its name, was erected towards the end oh the 14th century, during the first reign of the Visconti. Napoleon’s troops in 1801, and later the Austrians demolished much of this medieval structure.
The palace is not open to the public.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.