Lake Trasimeno in Etruscan Times

The origins of the name "Trasimeno" are unclear, and for a long time it was believed the name derived from the latin for "the lake you'll spot between the hills" - trans minus vide laco , an expression used to help travellers on their way south from Florence to find Perugia. Recently archeologists have discovered a bronze Etruscan tablet which mentions the lake as "Tarminass", which probably means the name of the lake derives from the Etruscans' own name for it, particularly as the area was in the centre of Etruscan territory before Roman conquest.

Hannibal and the Battle of Trasimene

History was made in the ’Battle of Lake Trasimene’ occurring during Second Punic War (217 B.C.) on northern slope of lake between Cortona and Tuoro. Hannibal, elephnts and a vast number of Carthaginian soldiers defeated the Romans in largest ambush in military history. Towns called Ossaia and Sanguineto hint at the bones and blood on which these settlements grew. Today you can follow a “Hannibal-was-here” route from Tuoro, and a museum commemorates his 217 B.C. defeat of the Romans.

An engraving of Hannibal's elephants in the second Punic war

Draining the marshes

Another enemy of the islands and environs were the malarial mosquitos which once prospered in the shallow waters. For centuries the area around the lake was marshy, reedy and boggy and a number of different projects were tried in an attempt to drain the area, including calling in Leonardo da Vinci as an engineer. It was only by the 1950s that the issue was definitely and finally solved, by the introduction of fish who feed on mosquito larvae and by a channel built in the late 1800s to stabilize the water level.