Lake Trasimeno is Italy’s fourth largest lake with a circumference of over 45 kms. The lake is stream-fed, in a basin surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and ancient castles. It provides the delights of fresh water fish and fishing, as well as all the water sports one has the energy for. Happily, Its waters are safe for swimming. It also has a 50 km bike path around...ke and a Nature Park that covers the entire lake. It’s easy to see that this is a spot that draws nature-lovers.
The level of the lake rises and falls according to the rainfall, with most of the water coming from a network of streams on the western side of the lake. The temperatures allow lake swimming from May to September. Though winter cold snaps occasionally damage nearby olive trees, the lake itself rarely freezes.
Castelonchio near Lake Trasimeno An aerial view looking over Castelonchio towards the lake
Hannibal's Elephants Hannibal’s elephants gave battle by the shores of Lake Trasimeno Though known to the Etruscans as ‘Trasimina’ , the lake was once called the Lake of Perugia as in prehistoric times it extended as far as Perugia.
Unsurprisingly, many regions over the years battled for rights to such a body of water. History was made in the ‘Battle of Lake Trasimene during Second Punic War (217 B.C.) on the northern slope of the ridge between Cortona and Tuoro.
Hannibal, elephants 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. From Tuoro a “Hannibal-was-here” route, and museum commemorates his 217 B.C. defeat of the Romans.
The 14th C. Franciscan monastery on Isola Maggiore attests to the lake’s role as a spiritual retreat, but over the years many regions battled fiercely for the rights to this body of water.
Festival with music, boating competitions, and enjoyment of lake fish-based dishes – The ‘giacchio’ refers to the cone-shaped fishing net thrown by local fishermen
Candle-lit suppers on the lake shore highlight fish dishes, some prepared in the world’s largest frying pan, padella, 4.5 m. in diameter.
A small town’s celebration of fish.
Held in the fortress of Castiglione del Lago, this festival celebrates the ancient foods of Etruscan culture + crafts and music.
Held in various lakeside towns.
In Castle of the Knights of Malta in Magione
Beginning in Castiglione del Lago, this is an Ultramarathon covering 58 km in the Park of Trasimeno.
Marco Bonomi photo Image by Marco Bonomi from the Oasi La Valle website.
Bird watching at Oasis La Valle – With an electric boat allowing passage through reeds and grasses to study migratory birds.
Acquatic Plants Garden on Polvese Island – 5 m. deep pool in late spring filled with blossoming water lillies and lotus flowers
Lace Museum on Maggiore Island, featuring the island lace or Irish lace done by the island’s women for more than a century.
Franciscan hermitage Le Celle outside the walls of Cortona – monastery built by S. Francis of Assisi in 1211
Windsurf, kitesurf, sail and wakeboard on the lake
Museum of Lake Trasimeno Fishing in San Feliciano
Windsurfing on Lake Trasimeno
Aquatic Plants Gardon on Polvese Island
Sagra del Pesce
Wake boarding on the lake
Strasimeno, a race around the lake
Trasimeno Blues Festival
Festa della Padella
Trasimeno Music Festival
Museum of Lake Trasimeno Fishing
Le Celle, below Cortona
– The largest island, reached by ferry from San Feliciano, was demolished by Florentine troops in the 17th C. yet its imposing castle still remains.
– The only presently inhabited island has about 30 residents in its small, but gracious, fishing village. In the past the town thrived around its Franciscan monastary dating from the 14th century .
– The flat island is now uninhabited and covered with vegetation, but once had a village with over 500 residents. Now a small anchorage remains
This town gave its name to a fishing technique ‘Pesca da Tuori’, consisting of a wooden trap and a circular struction to hold the net around it. The system, which worked with a high water level, was abandoned when the level of the lake dropped – You can see a mock-up of this method near the port of Isola Polvese.
In Tuscany’s Valdichiana and famed for its ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ association, this town overlooks the lake. Encircled with stone walls dating to Etruscan & Roman times, this gracious town is full of lovely shops, good restaurants and a good Etruscan museum.
With ancient origins and an intact appearance of a fortified village, the town has beautiful churches, a striking fortress and an interesting boat museum.
A town whose 14thcentury fortified abbey, which rose from a Knights Templar pilgrim house in the Middle Ages, still dominates the horizon.
With the longest shoreline, this town may have been an island joined to mainland by Romans. Some Roman ruins remain with its main streets in the Roman style chessboard. Nearby the local airport, the Eleuteri, was once one of the main avaiation schools in Italy
One of the most important cities of the Etruscan empire, modern visitors enjoy exploring its labyrinthine underground city, an excellent Etruscan museum and, at the end of June, the costumed Triaturris festival of costumed tournaments and banquets.
The Lake is rich in pike, carp, tench, perch, and visitors may find on local menus such things as: Tegamaccio, the local sweet-water fish stew, Carpa regina in porchetta, in which garlic, lard and herbs are wrapped and stuffed for 2 hrs. and then fish is baked and basted with lemon juice oil and white wine using a sprig of rosemary, or Brustico in which unscaled fish are roasted onembers made from lake reeds and then fileted and dressed with local olive oil and lemon.
Try Strangozzi del Trasimeno, noodles with perch filets & tomato, parsley, garlic, anchovies, olives, oil S&P or Fagiolina of Lake Trasimeno a small lentil-like legume typical of the area, now DOP protected – also known as “lake rice” due to small size and whitish color, or “eye bean” because of black markings. And for dessert, try Torciglione, the almond cake in the shape of a life-symbolizing snake.
Wines: Colli del Trasimeno or Trasimeno DOC
Fattoria Il Poggio – Isola Polvese, Tel: +39 075 9659550 or +39 347 900 0970
Il Gabbiano – Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tel: +39 075 827788
Kursaal – Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tel: +39 075 828085
I Capricci di Merion ‘Antica Residenza’ – Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Tel: +39 075 825002
La Grotta – Cortona, Tel: +39 0575 630271