Agriturismo in Umbria

Attractions

Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno is one of the largest Italian lakes, with an area of 128 mm2: an ecosystem that has arrived up to the present day almost intact, among the most beautiful in Umbria, surrounded by gentle hills dotted with villages rich with history, still with a people-friendly dimension. An environment for all tastes, all to be discovered, calmly, without haste.

 

A "delicate" lake, to be protected

From the historic town of Magione (which can be reached by way of the tollway from Perugia), we travel northward along the secondary roads, soon starting to skirt the lake shore, the considerable size of which certainly does not let us suspect that the maximum depth is only six meters. It is a singularity that is sort of an ?environmental Achilles? heel? of the Trasimeno, together with the relative scarcity of rainfall, the lack of true tributaries, the modest dimensions of the hydrographic basin, and the considerable ?anthropic pressure? deriving from tourism activities. It is thus a very delicate and sensitive ecosystem, which requires the utmost environmental attention by all, at all levels, to avoid, on the one hand, industrial and human activities requiring high water consumption and, on the other, to reduce as much as possible all sources of pollution, which are potentially devastating in such a shallow basin, with its consequential limited ?self-cleaning? possibilities.

It is thus not by chance that the entire basis is protected by a regional nature park, established in 1995, which has, moreover, managed to keep its waters constantly fit for bathing.

 

The lake “gate”

A few kilometers ahead, and we reach Passignano sul Trasimeno, on a modest promontory formed by the last foothills of the hills sloping down toward the lake, where – it might be said – history passed through: it is here that Brennus’s Gauls  passed in 387 BC, on their way to conquer Rome; it is here that Hannibal’s troops decimated the Roman legions, defeated in the famous Battle of Trasimeno; it is here that the Goths, Lombards, and Byzantines, contending for the control over the territory, set up their camps; it is here that right in the middle of the Middle Ages the troops of Perugia, Arezzo, and Florence clashed….

It is a past of which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish reality from legend, seen through numerous famous monuments, such as the ancient “Rocca” (fortress) and the numerous churches, of which we would like to mention the 11th-century parish church and the oratory of St. Roch.

But Passignano is also the starting point for a pleasant boat outing, which will enable us to admire the lake’s three islands, each more interesting than the next: “La Maggiore”, still permanently inhabited; “La Minore”, uninhabited, and therefore perfectly intact from the environmental standpoint; “La Polvese”, which is a sort of “park within the park”, the result of a harmonious integration of spontaneous natural landscape, masterly cultivations, and interesting historic-architectural memories, dating from the Roman times to the present.

Within the framework of the Trasimeno Park, the Province of Perugia, which owns it, has in fact declared the Polvese Island a “Scientific-Didactic Park”, using it to carry on an activity of scientific research, experimentation, and environmental teaching. This is all done in a context embellished with historic gems such as the 14th-century castle, the church of San Giuliano with its frescoes, and the monastery of San Secondo…

 

One of Italy’s loveliest villages

Continuing westward, here we come to Tuoro sul Trasimeno, near the slopes of Monte Castelluccio and on the border between Umbria and Tuscany, for centuries an important postal and customs station of the old Papal State.

A few kilometers further and we have to turn left, to follow the lake shore, which shortly leads us to Castiglione del Lago, one of the gems along our itinerary, which can boast being one of the 30 most beautiful villages in Italy.

The prestigious acknowledgment, rendered official on 14 September 2002, is the result of a long study conducted by a board of experts appointed by the ANCI (National Association of Italian Municipalities), who wanted to reward the “loveliest villages”, on the basis of very rigorous criteria: an absence of anomalous building operations, compactness and homogeneity of the building fabric, assessment of the qualitative state of the buildings, the closing of the historic center to car traffic, the administration’s policy concerning environmental protection, and much, much more.

And, in fact, visiting this village, built on a pronounced promontory and already existing during the Etruscan period, one cannot help agreeing completely: the 14th-century city walls; the powerful and well-preserved “Castle of the Lion”, destroyed and rebuilt several times (the current rebuilding dates from the 13th century); the church of San Domenico (17th century), with its fine wood ceiling, and so on and so forth.

 

The gentle hills of Panicale

Leaving behind the ancient stones of Castiglione del Lago, we follow the shoreline of the Trasimeno southward, and leave it to go toward the hills of Panicale, not too far away. Already inhabited by the Etruscans in the 7th century BC, it was one of the first Italian communes that, in 1037, declared themselves free and independent from any external rule. The castle was even considered one of the most important and fortified in Italy, so much so that it was able to resist all attacks up until 1643, when the armies of Florence conquered it during the war between the Papal State and the Duchy of Parma.

A visit to this still typically medieval village is thus more than deserved, starting with the austere Palazzo del Podestà, to go on to the numerous and lovely churches, always rich with art works.

Retracing our steps, we go back to follow the southern shore of the lake, going east and then north, again reaching Magione, from where we had started. It’s not a long trip, and not tiring, one that enabled us to discover one of the loveliest corners of our beautiful country.

 

Landscape/monument type

Paesaggio