The Wonders of Lake Trasimeno

 
[gallery link="file" columns="1" orderby="rand"] Lake Trasimeno, located on the Tuscan/Umbrian border, may not be swarming with VIP’s like it’s more famous counterparts to the North, but this tranquil retreat has an abundance of charm.  
Ferry on Lake Trasimeno
Ferry on Lake Trasimeno
With its ideal location, the lake is within a 100km range of Florence, Perugia, Siena, Arezzo, Assisi, Orvieto, Gubbio, Spoleto, Chiusi, and Cortona.  This means that the greater part of Italian Renaissance art and a large portion of ancient and medieval art are within easy reach.  You can easily reach all of that, as well as being a couple of hours drive from the center of Rome. Surrounded on three sides by the rolling hills of Tuscany, the 128 sq. km lake is the fourth largest in Italy.  Many of Lake Trasimeno’s gently slopping shores are covered in reed beds, which local craftsmen use to create beautiful reed umbrellas and screens.  Wildlife is abundant around the lake as it the natural home of heron, kingfisher, cormorants and osprey. The shallow waters, on average only 3 meters deep, are crossed daily by small, white ferry boats.  The little boats chug along, dropping passengers off at two of the lake’s three islands (Maggiore, and Polvese, the other - Minore - is uninhabited).
Sunflowers by the lake
Sunflowers by the lake
But don’t let the region’s beauty fool you into thinking Lake Trasimeno is only of interest to art buffs and nature lovers.  Sports fanatics will find more than enough to entertain themselves with!  The lake has facilities for kite surfing, sailing, canoeing, wind surfing, motor boating and water skiing.  There are even “open lake” days when you have the chance to try out a wide range of watersports. The gentle terrain of the lake side and surrounding hills are the perfect location for hiking and mountain biking.  There is also the opportunity to ride on horse back to the numerous medival castles and villages that surround the lake.  Fishing in the lake is extremely popular and visitors will often see local fisherman hard at work.  Trasimeno is well stocked with perch, pike, carp, tench and even eels.
Castle overlooking the lake
Castle overlooking the lake
The lake settlements date back to Etruscan times and tombs can still be seen near Castiglione del Lago.  When the area was controlled by Romans, engineers built the first lake outlets to regulate the water level and control flooding. But the history of Trasimeno is not always as peaceful as the setting that surrounds the lake.  In 217BC, Hannibal and his army stopped at the lake on their way to Rome.  Shockingly, the “Battle of Trasimeno” left 16,000 Romans dead.  Turoro, a small village situated just above the lake, has a visitors center that explains the historical importance of this event.  Visitors can even visit the battlefield and “ossaia”, the giant pits where the bodies were buried. Most of the settlements remaining around the lake date back to medieval times and include castles and fortresses.  Passignano, Monte del Lago and Castiglione del Lago are certainly worth seeing!
Local market
Local market
The food of Trasimeno is as diverse as the landscape that surrounds it.  Because of the lake’s unique position, being partly in Tuscany and partly in Umbria, partly countryside and partly lakeside, the local food has a great variety.  Hearty, homemade food that uses the freshest ingredients describes the local cuisine.
Local shop window
Local shop window
          The nearby Valdichiana valley grows some of the best fruit and vegetables in all of Italy.  Trasimeno itself is home to a small bean that is unique to the area.  It is also home to the Chiania breed of cattle, which is used in the famous “fiorentina” steak.  The lake fish form an large portion of the local diet as well as pheasant and wild boar.  Umbria is world famous for its truffles, and Trasimeno is no exception.  Many dishes will feature truffle shavings or truffle flavoured oil drizzle.

Without a doubt, Lake Trasimeno is worth a trip.  It is a vacation that you will remember for a lifetime!

This article provided by The Tuscan Magazine