One of Italy's most famous and beautiful parks, Sigurtà is worth a visit any time of the year—and it's located just 15 minutes from Valpolicella wine country.

For a spectacular show of flowers to appease your aesthetic sense, head to Sigurtà Garden Park in Veneto of northern Italy. Located just 15 minutes south of Lake Garda and its vineyard-covered hills that make such famous wines as Amarone and Valpolicella, the park covers an impressive 600,000 square meters (148 acres) of land right off the Mincio River. Highlights of the park are a maze, 18 water gardens, 30,000 rose bushes, and the largest display of tulips in southern Europe.

Visiting gardens is one of my passions, and I have gone to many gardens in Italy. I was amazed not only by the stunning display of more than one million tulips spread throughout the park in April, but also by the garden’s size and its variety of features and colors. Sigurtà Garden is definitely one of my picks for Italy’s top gardens.

Others agree with my assessment as well, since Parco Giardino Sigurtà has won several awards: the “Most Beautiful Garden of Italy,” designation by Il Parco Piu Bello D’Italia Network Nazionale di Parchi e Giardini in 2013; and the “second most beautiful park in Europe” in 2015 by the European Garden Heritage Network. “TulipanoMania,” the park’s annual tulip display, was awarded the best flower display in Italy by Parksmania in 2016.

Viale delle Rose - © Sigurtà Garden Park

Avenue of Roses – © Sigurtà Garden Park

While the garden is primarily known for its magnificent display of tulips and its Avenue of Roses with 30,000 rose bushes, I was impressed by the variety of plants and structures to see. Grassy lawns, rolling hills, and woods with hundreds of oaks cover much of the park area, and there are always flowers in bloom. Sights include the votive grotto, a large sundial at the Romeo and Juliet Belvedere, the Hermitage, a gothic style temple built in 1792, and the Castelletto. The Castelletto, a crenellated building with pretty Neogothic-style windows, was a popular location for roundtables with scientists and literary figures in the 19th-20th centuries; the Sigurtà family even hosted numerous Nobel Prize winners.

One of my favorite features was the large water garden up the hill. Arriving at the park near opening time and walking up the hill to the left, I had the pleasure of having the tranquil water gardens almost completely to myself. I enjoyed the beautiful floating flower displays that enhance the flowers and natural beauty around the pools. Valeggio sul Mincio’s castle in the distance made a romantic backdrop for the water gardens.

Next to the water garden is the popular maze made of 1500 yew trees with a tower in the middle. Climbing the tower, I had perfect views of the maze, the water gardens, and the park. After enjoying a coffee at the little snack kiosk, I strolled along the panoramic pathway, taking in the views of the woods, the river, and remains of an ancient fortress and bridge below.

Water gardens - by Babo Style

Water gardens – by Babo Style

I spent almost three hours at Sigurtà Garden Park, but you’re welcome to stay and wander as long as you’d like. Snack bars and restrooms are conveniently placed in several locations, and visitors can bring their own picnic. Sigurtà Restaurant is a short walk from the park and there are several good lunch spots in town (don’t forget to get your hand stamped to exit and return).

Insider tip:

While you’re in the area, pay a visit to the charming medieval town of Borghetto sul Mincio, one of the borghi piu belli d’italia, “most beautiful villages of Italy.” To get to Borghetto, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll of less than half an hour through the center of Valeggio sul Mincio and along a path that goes through a park. Situated right on the river, the small pedestrian-only historic center has water mills, a church, cafes, restaurants, shops, a few hotels, and remains of ancient towers and walls. Remains of ancient walls and a fortress are visible, too. Swans and ducks swim in the pretty streams passing by the buildings. It’s a nice place for relaxing after a day of sight-seeing.

Borghetto sul Mincio - © Martha Bakerjian

Borghetto sul Mincio – © Martha Bakerjian

What’s blooming in the Sigurtà Garden

The most difficult part of my visit was deciding when to go, as each season offers something new to see. While the tulips and roses are the garden’s top displays, 19 species of flowers are planted to bloom at staggered times. Crocuses and narcissus are the first to bloom, followed by tulips usually starting in the second half of March and lasting about a month.

Tulips at Sigurtà Garden Park - by Niccolò Caranti

Tulips at Sigurtà Garden Park – by Niccolò Caranti

In late April through May, irises are in bloom, followed by the roses on display from May through September. During summer, lotus flowers, water lilies, Canna lilies, and a variety of colorful annual flowers are in bloom. Zinnias, marigolds, begonias, and hibiscus start in summer and continue through October. Asters and 30 varieties of dahlias are the highlights of fall. There’s also a small medicinal herb garden with 40 different plants.

Practical information about Sigurtà Garden Park

How to get around the park

While I chose to walk along the paths that cover the entire park, several other transportation options are available at an additional cost. Bicycles can be rented right by the entrance or at other points along bike trail that runs from Mantua to Peschiera del Garda to explore the park on the six-kilometer path. Bikes can be brought into the park at no extra charge, and there’s even a charging station for electric bikes.

For those who prefer more comfortable transportation, there are three options: Visitors can hop aboard the panoramic train for a six-kilometer ride along the Enchanted Way, taking in the garden’s highlights. A smaller electric shuttle gives a more extensive guided tour that includes the garden’s history and special features. Or, visitors can rent an electric golf cart to explore the park independently with a GPS guide.

Getting to Sigurtà Garden Park

Sigurtà Garden Park is in Valeggio sul Mincio, a small town along the Mincio River that sits below a castle in northern Italy’s Veneto region. It’s about 15-minute drive south of Peschiera del Garda, on Lake Garda, or take bus number 46 from Peschiera del Garda toward Mantua (there’s also a bus from Sirmione and Desenzano on Lake Garda or from Mantua). It’s 30 kilometers from the city of Verona and reachable by bus number 160. For those who arrive by bicycle, the park can be reached from the 45-kilometer bike path that runs from Peschiera del Garda to Mantua.

Sigurtà Garden Park is open every day from the first Sunday of March through the first Sunday of November. It opens at 9 am and closes at 7 pm from April through September and 6 pm in the other months. See current prices, check hours, and look for special events on the website.

Water lilies - by Mauro Sartori

Water lilies – by Mauro Sartori

Events at Sigurtà Park

Interesting events are scheduled throughout the year. In May, the historic cars of the Mille Miglia, a road trip from Brescia to Rome and back, make a stop at the park. Other highlights are yoga evenings, photography exhibits, the Stars of the Opera Concert in August, the Junior World Endurance Championship 2017 in September with thoroughbred Arabian horses on display, and a parade of 19th century carriages in October. An educational farm and special kid’s events provide things of interest for children, too.