Founded by monks from the Order of Chalais, the Valbonne church was built between 1199 and 1230. It features minimalist architectural lines, typical of the order which reached its peak at this moment, before its decline and disappearance in 1303.
This was a small abbey, housing a maximum of 30 monks. The simple church, now a parish church, can be visited, as well as the monastery buildings, which are very well preserved, including a sacristy, chapter house, refectory, kitchen and workshop. The beautifully minimalist cloister, where remnants of the tiled roof can still be seen, also houses the monks' dormitories with narrow windows on the upper floor.
Restored in the 1970s, the image of the church was changed during the 19th century when the Romanesque southern windows were enlarged. On the northern wall, a chapel dedicated to the White Penitents was opened in the 17th century.
The second floor of the cloister houses a museum showcasing the heritage of Valbonne. Traditional jobs and domestic life are explained here.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.