Support our mission
 
The maze inside the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona, Italy, opened in 2011. Visitors can make their way around hedges made up of around 1,500 yew trees. The paths wind their way among tall evergreens on a footprint of almost 27,000 square feet.
The maze inside the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona, Italy, opened in 2011. Visitors can make their way around hedges made up of around 1,500 yew trees. The paths wind their way among tall evergreens on a footprint of almost 27,000 square feet. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)

My wife and I took our two kids on a long-awaited trip from our home near Aviano Air Base to Parco Giardino Sigurta, arguably the most beautiful garden park in Italy, as soon as the Italian government relaxed its coronavirus restrictions.

Its history dates back to 1407, when Nicolo Contarini bought the property near Verona and farmed it. In 1792, a new owner came up with a plan for building a romantic English-style landscape garden. Several of the buildings in the 150-acre park, including the neo-Gothic Casteletto, date to this time.

The Castelletto building inside the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona, was originally used as the armory. The park property's history dates to 1407.
The Castelletto building inside the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona, was originally used as the armory. The park property's history dates to 1407. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)
The Castelletto, a castle-shaped building, as seen from the Sunset Avenue walkway inside the Garden Park Sigurta near Verona, Italy. The park has an immense number of plants, trees and flowering gardens.
The Castelletto, a castle-shaped building, as seen from the Sunset Avenue walkway inside the Garden Park Sigurta near Verona, Italy. The park has an immense number of plants, trees and flowering gardens. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)

It passed between owners and into ruins until local doctor and businessman Giuseppe Carlo Sigurta bought it in 1941. He restored it, tripled its size and passed it on to his family members, who still run the park.

Park Giardino Sigurta's train, which takes visitors on about an hour's ride through the entire property. It's a nonstop guided and narrated tour that costs 3.50 euros and is free for children under 3 feet tall. Golf cart and bike rentals are also available.
Park Giardino Sigurta's train, which takes visitors on about an hour's ride through the entire property. It's a nonstop guided and narrated tour that costs 3.50 euros and is free for children under 3 feet tall. Golf cart and bike rentals are also available. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)

Walking along the paths and taking in the abundant flowers and greenery are great ways to experience the park if you’re up for the hike. Hourly bike rentals and a train ride help cover more ground, or splurge on a golf cart for 18 euros an hour, complete with an English-language recorded guide. 

Visitors walk along a path with a view of the Scaligero Castle in Villafranca di Verona, from the Avenue of the Roses, inside the Garden Park Sigurta.
Visitors walk along a path with a view of the Scaligero Castle in Villafranca di Verona, from the Avenue of the Roses, inside the Garden Park Sigurta. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)

Among the highlights is the avenue of roses, where bushes full of the flowers line the walkway. If you’re traveling south, you’ll get a beautiful view of the Castello Scaligero, a castle dating back to the Middle Ages, located in the nearby town of Villafranca di Verona. Some scenes from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” used this castle as a setting. The castle is also open for visitors and provides beautiful views of Verona.

All along the western edge of the park are grazing deer at the appropriately named Deer Valley. A farm with Venetian poultry breeds, donkeys, goats, chickens, turkeys and ducks is a great educational opportunity for children. Perhaps another life lesson for kids awaits at the dog cemetery, where decades of Sigurta family pets are buried.

Visitors enter the Garden Park Sigurta in Valeggio sul Mincio, near Verona, Italy. The park has received many national and European awards for its beauty.
Visitors enter the Garden Park Sigurta in Valeggio sul Mincio, near Verona, Italy. The park has received many national and European awards for its beauty. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)
Snack bar Iris inside the Garden Park Sigurta, Italy, where a lunch combo costs around 9 euros. There are five snack bars similar to this one throughout the park.
Snack bar Iris inside the Garden Park Sigurta, Italy, where a lunch combo costs around 9 euros. There are five snack bars similar to this one throughout the park. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)
Hydrangeas line the path along the avenue of pines at the Garden Park Sigurta, located in Valeggio sul Mincio, about a two-hour drive from Aviano Air Base in Italy.
Hydrangeas line the path along the avenue of pines at the Garden Park Sigurta, located in Valeggio sul Mincio, about a two-hour drive from Aviano Air Base in Italy. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)
The Water Gardens at the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona in Italy, offer spectacular views of the surroundings. In March and April, the area hosts colorful tulip beds.
The Water Gardens at the Garden Park Sigurta, near Verona in Italy, offer spectacular views of the surroundings. In March and April, the area hosts colorful tulip beds. (Norman Llamas/Stars and Stripes)

The horizontal sundial, designed to work for 26,000 years, was built in 1990. Then in 2011, after six years in the making, the maze was inaugurated.

The maze hedges include 1,500 yew trees and encompass more than 27,000 square feet. The maze is a huge hit and it seems to be busy all the time. My kids couldn’t wait to go through it.

There are also several seasonal events, such as a tulip exhibition in the spring, that are expected to resume as the pandemic situation improves. The hour trip from the Army garrison in Vicenza and even the two-hour haul from Aviano are well worth making to see the park and the greater Verona area.

Address: Via Cavour, 1; Valeggio sul Mincio, Verona 37067

Cost: 14 euros for adults, 7 euros for children aged five to 14.

Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, from March to November.

Food: Five snack bars, with meal combos at about 9 euros

Information: Phone +39 045 6371033; Website sigurta.it

llamas.norman@stripes.com; Twitter: @normanllamas

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up