Among the most beautiful lakes of Italy, the Trasimeno is a must for anyone staying in Umbria and surrounding area. Thanks to its central location you can easily reach it from the main towns of the neighbouring regions, including Le Marche, Tuscany and Lazio. The territory of the lake and its three islands is part of the protected area of the Trasimeno Regional Park, that besides its magnificent natural landscape offers lovely villages to visit, some of them being in hilly areas and others looking out towards the water. Here is some more information that might be useful for you to organise a romantic getaway or a fun trip with friends!
Trasimeno Lake: Nature & Sports
The Trasimeno Lake is located in the province of Perugia and is the largest lake of central Italy, fourth among Italian lakes after that one of Como. The surrounding landscape reflects the typical features of the Umbrian territory, with green hills covered with olive groves. There are several equipped beaches with the possibility of bathing, a perfect alternative to the sea that is sadly lacking in this region! You have to know that here water is really shallow (6 metres maximum) and over the years it has received several awards for its quality. Many sports can be practiced, from trekking to excursions and bird watching in ‘La Valle’ oasis, a pit stop and nesting place for thousands of birds, because of the shallow waters and extensive reed beds. To enjoy the lake up-close, I suggest you a bike ride in the cycling path along the banks. If you are a real biker, you can launch yourself into riding the periplo del Trasimeno, a large ring around the lake that runs through villages, countryside and coastlines, partly on a bike path and partly on the streets. The route is about 71 km and starts from Castiglione del Lago for a duration of 4 hours approximately. Less trained and those ones with children in tow should better drive it by car or alternatively opt for a quiet and relaxing tour of the islands by ferry boat!
There are three islands in the Trasimeno Lake: Isola Maggiore, Isola Minore and Isola Polvese. My advice is to reach the town of San Feliciano and there take an early morning ferry to Isola Polvese, the largest and highest one. It belongs to the Trasimeno Regional Park and in addition to the beautiful landscapes it offers visitors various attractions, such as the Church of San Secondo, the Olivetano Monastery, the Church of San Giuliano, a recently restored XIV century castle and the Pool of Porcinai, a Garden of Water Plants. Once back, I suggest to go by car to Passignano or Tuoro Punta Navaccia to take a ferry to Isola Maggiore, the only inhabited island. It is located in the premises of Tuoro sul Trasimeno and retains all the features of the classic fishing village. Among the things to see there’s the Church of San Salvatore, the ruin of the church monastery of the Suore di San Leonardo, the ruins of the Roman Tower, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, the Guglielmi Castle and the windmill. Few people know that this island was one of the places dear to St. Francis of Assisi, who stopped there to meditate during Lent time in 1211; today you can visit the Chapel of St. Francis with the bed of the Saint, the rock where he prayed and the spring of St Francis. Isola Minore, also known as Isoletta, is the smallest one. Currently this island is private and uninhabited; it cannot be visited.
The eight villages
The area of the Trasimeno Lake consists of eight districts, some of these rising on a hill position (Città della Pieve, Paciano, Panicale and Piegaro) and others overlooking the water (Castiglione del Lago, Magione, Passignano and Tuoro sul Trasimeno). I suggest the most popular ones, Passignano and Castiglione del Lago, where you can visit Zocco Castle and Rocca del Leone. Do not miss the Lambardi Tower in Magione. Città della Pieve is also a great fascinating location, standing on a hill. It is famous for being the birthplace of the painter Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino and it has been even set of many TV series.
If you are at the Trasimeno, you cannot give up a great dish based on fish! The local specialty, not very easy to find, is the brustico, which consists on lake fish (perch real or tench) toasted on lake reeds and served with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon. Queen carp, expertly cooked in ‘porchetta’, it is the best known and eaten fish of the area and its precious eggs are used for soups and pasta dishes. Equally popular is the tegamaccio, which takes its name from the earthenware pot where this delicious fish soup is traditionally cooked. Other typical products are Città della Pieve Saffron, the Trasimeno bean variant, a local legume with very ancient origins and wildflower honey. Last but not least, the wine which becomes the protagonist of a food & wine journey called Strada del Vino Colli del Trasimeno (Wine Route Hills of Trasimeno).
To enjoy your stay in Umbria and experience local habits and traditions of this territory, I suggest you these three villas, equipped with every comfort.
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Casale San Francesco – Assisi (PG)
Villa Erica – Todi (PG)
Casa Betty – Bettona (PG)