Castiglione del Lago is located at the western end of Umbria, on the border with the Tuscan provinces of Siena and Arezzo. Its territory includes a large part of Lake Trasimeno and Polvese Island. The town itself sits on a hilltop which many thousands of years ago was the Lake’s fourth island (the other three, still islands, are Maggiore, Minore and Polvese), before the gully dried up and it became connected to the land. The Roman origins of the town can still be easily recognized in the parallel streets that characterize it. There are various interesting sites to visit here, starting with the Palazzo della Corgna which was built by Ascanio della Corgna, the Marquess of Castiglione. The tour of the Palazzo with take you through rooms richly frescoed by Niccolò Circignani, known as Il Pomarancio, on the piano nobile. From the last room you can gain access to the medieval fortress, built at the behest of Frederick II, and its unusual pentagonal structure, the towers and the triangular keep. On the opposite end from the Palazzo Ducale sits the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, which was built in 1836, while the Church of San Domenico is Baroque and was built at the behest of Duke Fulvio Alessandro. It has a beautiful caisson ceiling and various lovely works of art dating to the 1600s.
Città della Pieve sits at 508m above sea level and looks out over the Valdichiana and Lake Trasimeno. The town has all the characteristics of a border town, with harmonious architectural influences from Tuscany, Lazio and, of course, Umbria. The surrounding landscape was the one that inspired native son Pietro Vannucci (ca.1450 - 1523), known as “Il Perugino”, who left behind many paintings, starting with is celebrated Adoration of the Magi in the Oratorio di Santa Maria dei Bianchi. The historical centre boasts Sienese-style buildings that date back to the early 1200s, buildings with Roman influence and others that date anywhere from the Renaissance to Neoclassical. Things to see: Cathedral – ancient church building (with baptism font) of Longobard origin. Civic Tower - Romanesque tower from the 12th century. Palazzo della Corgna – designed by Galeazzo Alessi for the family of Ascanio della Corgna. The Rocca (or Fortress) – fortification built in 1536. The Church of Saint Augustine – Built in the Gothic style in the late 13th century and modified in the late 18th century in Neoclassical style.
Magione, ancient villages and unforgettable sunsets
The eastern coast of Lake Trasimeno is dotted with fascinating villages and hamlets, places rife with history and blessed with the most beautiful sunsets imaginable. There is San Savino, with its castle and triangular medieval tower; San Feliciano, a charming and ancient fishing village; Monte Colognola, a hamlet with breathtaking views and origins that date to the 1300s; Monte del Lago, an architectural jewel on an outcrop right over the lake; and Agello, which boasts an 11th century fortress.
Magione itself boasts the imposing Castle of the Knights of Malta, built in the 12th century as a fortified hospital. It has been perfectly preserved and can be toured on request. Its inner courtyard hosts concerts of the Trasimeno Music Festival in July, a prestigious international music festival directed by the famous pianist Angela Hewitt.
The ancient tower of the Lambardi also sits in Magione. It was built in the 12th and 13th century by the Cavalieri Gerosolimitani and dominates the town offering magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. It is square and 30 meters tall and has recently been restored to its original splendor. Open from April through September it often hosts important contemporary art exhibits.
Kieran Mulvaney, author and environmentalist, described Paciano to the Washington Post as follows: My first impression, when I got here, is that if Hollywood ever needed to shoot a film in a medieval village, this would be the one.
A visit to this lovely town should start in the heart of the historical centre, at Palazzo Baldeschi which houses the information office and TrasiMemo, located near the Don Aldo Rossi museum. As one walks through the old streets one is enchanted at every corner by the churches, decorations depicting the Madonna, the little balconies and small shops offering local delicacies and crafts, all of which, together with the City Hall on Piazza della Repubblica blend together seamlessly in a unique medieval way.
Upon leaving there are several nice walks and cultural stops, like the Madonna della Stella Church which houses a delightful Mannerist fresco cycle which recounts a star that comes to rest on the mantle of the Madonna.
Coming to this area also gives the visitor a unique opportunity to discover precious yet often unknown cultural relics, to taste local delicacies and enjoy breathtaking views when walking along the Via Romea Germanica, which was traced in 1200 when it lead from Stade in Germany to Rome, and here connects Castiglione del Lago to Città della Pieve.
A natural terrace overlooking Lake Trasimeno, Panicale is the birthplace of artists and leaders and retains all the characteristics of a medieval castle, the structure perched on Mount Petrarvella. The three ancient squares on three different levels characterizes its layout like so many concentric ellipses.
The main square hosts a XV century well (turned into a fountain in the 1900s ) and the impressive Collegiate Church of San Michele, while the XIV century Palazzo del Podestà (home of the Historical Archives) was built on the city’s most panoramic spot on Piazza Masolino, and obviously boasts a breathtaking view.
In addition to being one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Panicale has, since 2007, also earned the prestigious Orange Flag from the Italian Touring Club for its important cultural and landscape heritage, and for the many events it hosts: the theatre season, music festivals, food festivals, embroidery courses. The Renaissance left a significant artistic imprint here through such men as Il Perugino, Raphael and G. Battista Caporali, just to mention some the great masters of that era. The nearby Mongiovino Sanctuary is considered one of the most important examples of Italian Mannerist art. Designed by Rocco da Vicenza, it houses works by Il Pomarancio, Lombarddelli, Alfani and many more...
This ancient fishing village, a real gem, is set on the shore between the blue waters of the lake and the green of the surrounding hills. Its location makes it a must for anyone travelling between Umbria and Tuscany going over the pass which gave Passignano its name: Passus Jani, or Passo di Giano, the mythical god of ports. Just outside of town visitors can go hiking, cycling, mountain biking or horseback riding.
Pieve di San Cristoforo, adjacent to the cemetery on the outskirts of town, is the old parish church of Passignano and dates to the X century. The monumental church of the Madonna dell’Oliveto is in the west of town and was built in the XVI century. The Rocca (3), or fortress, probably dates to when the Longobards were here in the V-VI centuries. It has a stunning view and is opened to the public for exhibitions, concerts and plays.
The Rocca also hosts the Boat Museum.
Perched on a hilltop just north of town is the hamlet of Castel Rigone, a charming blend of nature and culture ideal for visitors seeking an even more tranquil stay. It also boasts the Santuario of Maria SS. dei Miracoli, a masterpiece of Umbrian Renaissance architecture.
The Piegaro area is rich in history and natural beauty. There is much to be explored and discovered here: the medieval village of Cibottola, with its nearby Convent of San Bartolomeo (private) and the castles of Gaiche (which dates back to before 1318) and Greppolischieto, which have both been beautifully restored to their former splendor.
The lovely village of Castiglion Fosco is not far and has a round tower dating to the 15th century.
Near Pietrafitta is the Abbey of the Seven Friars, which has a lovely Romanesque church with a semi-interred crypt and a monastery with a gorgeous courtyard. Here you can also find a precious fossil collection, one of Europe’s richest and most important paleontological finds now housed in the Luigi Boldrini Paleontological Museum in Pietrafitta.
In the historical centre of Piegaro there is also the beautifully preserved Palazzo Misciattelli-Pallavicini (18th century) and the ancient glass factory of Piegaro, which has been beautifully restored and now houses the Glass Museum. Glassmaking was an important activity in this town starting in the Middle Ages, and it is still a fundamental part of the local economy.
Lake Pietrafitta is a naturally artificial lake which once was a lignite quarry that supplied the old Enel energy plant. This lovely lake’s appeal stems from the nature surrounding it and its shape. It has an average depth of 20 meters and a surface area of some 180 hectares.
The lake is entirely fenced in and the flow of visitors during opening hours is controlled by a guard posted at the parking area, which includes a camper rest zone, water source, bathrooms and children’s playground on the lakeshore.
The entire area is a nature park hosting both migratory and non-migratory birds, hare, foxes and weasels.
The park also contains a protected area where fishing and transit in motor vehicles is not allowed. This special zone is characterised by shallow water, an island and numerous submerged trees and cane thicket. The lake hosts various provincial, regional, national and global events. The path which winds in and around the area is 7km long and has benches and 43 carp-fishing spots.
Apart from the carp-fishing possibilities, the lake is also open to anyone seeking to take a nice walk in the silence of nature.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
Tuoro sits at the northern end of Lake Trasimeno, on the border between Umbria and Tuscany. Four itineraries which trace the steps of history and art have been created here.
The most important of these itineraries is the one dedicated to history and the archaeology of the Battle of Trasimeno. It meanders through the countryside which saw one of the bloodiest battles of the 2nd Punic War between the Romans and the Carthaginians. It comprises twelve stops featuring illustrated panels in four languages explaining the fine details of the battle.
The second itinerary is a nature walk through the woods along the Rio River and takes you to the lovely Vernazzano Tower, which leans dramatically to one side.
Campo del Sole is the third itinerary and features 27 sculpted columns made of local stone, known as pietra serena, set in a lovely park on the lakeshore.
The fourth itinerary is located on Isola Maggiore and is a journey into the past to explore the stay of Saint Francis on the island and Renaissance life there. It will also introduce visitors to the Irish-point lace-makers of the island. The itinerary also takes visitors to the island’s lovely frescoed church of San Michele Arcangelo, to the Documentation Centre and the lace-making museum.