Lake Trasimeno (ital. Lago Trasimeno) is in the northwest corner of Umbria in Italy.
Trasimeno is the largest lake in the center and south of Italy, with a surface area of 128 km². No major river flows directly into or out of the lake and the water level fluctuates significantly according to rainfall levels but is at all times fairly shallow. It has been known to freeze over. The lake is a popular tourist destination and there are many camping sites, particularly to the west. However, it lacks major tourist attractions.
On the A1 Autostrada that connects Rome and Florence, exit at Chiusi coming from the south and Val di Chiana when coming from the north. From Val di Chiana take the SS73 in the direction of Perugia. Leaving at Chiusi you have to pass through the town of Chiusi before following signs to Trasimeno on the SS71.
There is a railway line from Perugia to Terontola-Cortona, that passes to the north of the lake with stations at Magione, Torricella, Passignano and Tuoro sul Trasimeno. At Terontola this line connects with the main line between Rome and Florence.
Passignano sul Trasimeno is still circled by its medieval walls. However, the town was damaged in the Second World War and there is little else to see. The main reason for visiting is to catch a ferry to the islands in the lake.
Castiglione del Lago. is on the southwest corner of Lake Trasimeno. It used to be the fourth island of Lake Trasimeno but over the years the gap between the island and the shore has been filled in. The historical center is well preserved and provides good views of the lake. The original fortifications of the town were destroyed and rebuilt on numerous occasions. The Castello del Leone ("Fortress of the Lion") is a pentagonal-shaped castle that was completed in 1247. It was designed to give its owners strategic control over all of Lake Trasimeno. The castle has withstood a number of sieges. The Palazzo del Comune (Town Hall) was built in Renaissance style. It is now a civic museum and gallery.
Magione. This fairly large town (pop. 14,000) lies to the east of the lake on the road to Perugia. There is little for tourists. The Church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) was built by the Knights of Malta in 1571 and destroyed during the Second World War. It was rebuilt immediately after the war and has some interesting modern frescoes.
Panicale. While Panicale has probably been inhabited since Etruscan times, it was a medieval castle built on the peak of the hill that formed the city into what you see today. The town's narrow roads form ovals around the Piazza Podesta at the hill's peak. In the Chiesa of S. Sebastiano there is a fresco by Il Perugino. In the church of S.Agostino there is a small Museum of Embroidered Lace.
Vernazzano. A small village just to the north of the lake and the highway to Perugia. Mainly known for its " leaning tower", which leans more than that of Pisa ever did. This was built before 1089 as part of a castle. The castle and the surrounding settlement were damaged by wars in 1400s and two century later, by a strong earthquake. Erosion of the foundations by fast-running streams caused the tower to lean in the eighteenth century. It has been abandoned for almost 300 years. To avoid the tower’s collapse it is held up by steel wires.
Isola Maggiore is the second largest island on the lake and is the only inhabited one with a population of around 35 although in days gone by there were many more inhabitants. St Francis of Assisi lived on the island as a hermit from 1211. The 12th century Church of Saint Michael the Archangel on the top of the hill and the Romanesque church of S. Salvatore are both worth a visit. Some of the olive trees on the island are hundreds of years old. Visitors can explore the old town and hill; paths cross the island through the olive groves.
Isola Polvese is the largest of the lake’s three islands, with around 69.60ha. It is connected with the shore at San Feliciano, 5km south of Mangione on the east of the lake, by daily boats between 9.00 and 19.00 sailing every 40 minutes approx. The island is now used as a scientific park, with research and educational activities. A study center is planned to be developed on the site of a ruined monastery. The medieval fortress dates back to the 13th Century. The Garden of the Aquatic Plants was developed in 1995 in a former swimming pool that was entirely excavated in the rock.
Ferries operate to the islands and across the lake, particularly in the tourist season. Obtaining reliable information about schedules in advance is difficult. The main base for the ferries is Passignano.
Nearby the lake are:
Play Golf. There is a nine-hole golf course close to Panicarola, just south of the lake. It was established by Ferruccio Lamborghini, designer of the Lamborghini cars. Loc. Soderi 1, Panicale (PG) 06064 Italia, tel/fax 075/837582.
Skydiving. Also south of the lake is a parachuting school. (Skydive Trasimeno +39 075 835006).
Le Grotte di Boldrino, Via Virgilio Ceppari,30 06064 Panicale. Tel. + 39 075 837161 - Fax. + 39 075 837166. Up on a hill overlooking the lake from the south. €35-40 per person per night.
Agriturismo Lamborghini is next to the golf course (see above). Loc. Soderi, 1 Panicale (PG) 06064 Italia Tel. +39 075 8350029. When Ferrucio Lamborghini sold his car business he invested in a large area of land just south of the lake, planted grapes and built this small agriturismo. Apartments are available on a weekly basis, from €400-800 per apartment per week.
Fattoria il Poggio - Parco Naturale Isola Polvese 06060 Castiglione del Lago (Pg). Tel 075.9659550 Cell 347.9000970. On the Polvese island, this offers hotel and hostel accommodation.
Lake Trasimeno is a short drive from two fascinating cities, Cortona and Perugia.