Category Archives: Umbria – Lake Trasimeno

Battlefield

Leaving Castiglione del Lago, we headed north around Lake Trasimeno to the town of Tuoro, which is unremarkable other than it was close to the site of the Battle of Trasimeno which took place during the 2nd Punic Wars.

The Battle was fought on 21 June 217 BC between the Roman army, under Gaius Flaminius, and the Carthaginian troops, led by Hannibal. Hannibal planned a massive ambush of the Roman army along the shore of the Lake. Here, a narrow lakeside passage opened out into a confined plain, restricting the Romans’ ability to adopt their normal battle formations. Under cover of a morning mist, once the Roman troops were contained on the narrow plain with their rear blocked by Carthaginian cavalry, Hannibal’s men poured down from the heavily forested hills and routed the enemy. Hannibal 1, Rome 0.

Hannibal preparing for battle. Well, it was difficult to get a photo.....

Hannibal preparing for battle. Well, it was difficult to get a photo…..

It is estimated that around 15,000 Romans were killed that day, whilst Hannibal lost around 2,500. Hannibal almost suceeded in overpowering Rome and he was Rome’s biggest threat for many years. Although he eventually lost the Punic Wars, Hannibal is today remembered as one of the finest generals in ancient military history, and the Battle of Lake Trasimeno is considered to be an outstanding example of military tactics.

And if you are wondering what happened to Hannibal’s famous elephants, most of them died during the harsh, northern Italian winter.

Fired up by tales of derring-do, we continued on to Passignano sul Trasimeno, built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Lake.

Passignano sul Trasimeno

Passignano sul Trasimeno

The centre of Passignano still retains its medieval walls, but there is little left of the old town other than the remains of La Rocca di Passignano, a fortress dating from the V-VI centuries, due to bombing during the second World War.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, La Rocca

Passignano sul Trasimeno, La Rocca

The more modern town has sprawled to the Lake’s edge and attracts tourists mainly because of its access to the Lake’s islands by boat.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Ferry Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Ferry Boats

Fishing – both commercial and for leisure – is also carried out here. Tench, eel, pike, carp and perch are all found in the Lake.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Gone Fishing!

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Gone Fishing!

There is also a small but pretty marina.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Marina

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Marina

There were few boats out on the water…

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing

It’s not difficult to idle away a few hours just looking….

Passignano sul Trasimeno

Passignano sul Trasimeno, misty view over Lake Trasimeno

There were lots of ducks, birds and various other wildlife on and around the Lake.

Duck, Lake Trasimeno

Duck, Lake Trasimeno

How green is this lizard? Lake Trasimeno

How green is this lizard? Lake Trasimeno

Right Mabel - let's get those 2 tourists down there...!

Right Mabel – let’s get those 2 tourists down there…!

Mini Adventures, Lake Trasimeno, Italy

Mini Adventures, Lake Trasimeno, Italy

Roll on the next adventure!

Advertisements

Sailing

I love water. Seas, lakes, rivers. I even drink the stuff. Umbria is landlocked, so there is no possibility of trips to the seaside, but it does boast 2 lakes: Lake Trasimeno and Lake Piediluco.

Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

Lord Byron described Lake Trasimeno as “a silvery veil” and Goethe as “an unforgettable vision“. It is the 4th largest lake in Italy, covering an area of around 126 square kilometres (48 square miles) with a perimeter of around 60 kilometres (37 miles). It has none of the glamour of Lake Garda, and is all the better for it; quiet and peaceful, blue and green, green and blue, surrounded by low hills peppered with castles, villages, towers and churches.

We decided to spend 2 days at Lake Trasimeno and found a quirky B&B In Castiglione del Lago, the principal town on the western shore. It is a charming little town, surrounded by ancient walls breached by imposing gates.

Gate, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Gate, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Gate, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Gate, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Castiglione del Lago is built on a rocky promontory, giving expansive views of the Lake. Because of its strategic position, the town was fortified first by the Etruscans and then by the Romans, and was fought over, destroyed and rebuilt throughout the centuries. Today it is a small town unspoilt by excessive tourism, full of friendly people.

Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Building detail. Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Building detail. Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

The shops are full of local products, including the many-coloured beans which looked so very attractive.

Local products. Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Local products. Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

We couldn’t resist capturing these two chatting ceramic figures sitting on a window ledge.

Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Dominating the town is the Rocca del Leone (Lion Fortress), completed in 1247 by Frederick II. It is built to a pentangle design with 4 corner towers and, unusually, a triangular keep.

Rocca del Leone, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Rocca del Leone, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

It is one of the finest examples of military architecture in Umbria, and in the 16th century was considered to be one of the most impregnable fortresses in Italy.

Rocca del Leone, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

Rocca del Leone, Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno

From the fortress, a narrow covered passageway inside the wall leads to the Palazzo della Corgna, an imposing palace built for the della Corgna family. An earlier building on this site was owned by the Baglioni family who hosted Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci there.

Passageway between the fortress and the Palazzo della Corgna.

Passageway between the fortress and the Palazzo della Corgna.

Fresco, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Fresco, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

The 16th century palazzo is remarkable for its extensive, well-preserved and brightly coloured frescoes, attributed to Pomerancio and unknown others. The subjects include scenes from the Aeneid, the military exploits of the founder of the dynasty, Ascanio della Corgna and depictions of the seasons.

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

Frescoes, Palazzo della Corgna, Castiglione del Lago

In early May, Castiglione del Lago hosts the “Colour the Skies” festival with light aircraft, hot air balloons and kites. The palazzo housed a display of some of the kites from former years.

Kites, Palazzo del Corgna

Kites, Palazzo del Corgna

There are 3 islands in the middle of the lake: Isola Minore, Isola Polvese and Isola Maggiore. Isola Minore is privately owned whilst Isola Polvese is a wildlife sanctuary. We took the local ferry to Isola Maggiore – a lovely trip taking about 30 minutes.

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

The shore was fringed with weeping willows.

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

There are few inhabitants on the island and most make their living by fishing or tourism. We strolled around the quiet streets. The sun blazed down – I had to buy a hat!

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Saint Francis of Assisi was said to have come to this island to fast and pray, and there is a worn chapel built on the site where he supposedly knelt on arrival.

Old churches perched on worn steps.

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Breathtaking lake views were all around us.

Vie from Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

View from Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Wooden piles at the boat jetty seemed to be “walking” into the water!

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

There were surprisingly few pleasure craft on the water. The Lake is fairly shallow and marshy in some areas which may explain the lack of activity. This little speedboat was collecting diners for a lakeside restaurant.

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno - view of Castiglione del Lago

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno – view of Castiglione del Lago

As the sun began to cool, we sat on the shore with a well-deserved drink watching the water shimmer and dapple in the light. It was heavenly.

All too soon the ferry arrived and we were homeward bound. Castiglione del Lago looked wonderful as we returned to its encircling walls. Day one was drawing to a close.

View of Castiglione del Lago from boat to Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

View of Castiglione del Lago from the boat from Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno