From Castiglione del Lago to Solomeo, ancient lakeside villages unaltered by the passage of time.
This trip around central Italy's largest lake, commences with one of Italy's most beautiful towns: Castiglione del Lago.
The castle by the lake
Frederick II of Swabia was responsible for Castiglione's fortified and castellated walls, constructed in 1247 and still incredibly well preserved.
The town's most important buildings are the Palazzo della Corgna and the Rocca del Leone.
The first is a small, 16th century palace built on the site of a pre-existing hunting lodge. The Palace's spectacular frescoes, realized in late mannerist style, depict mythological characters and the adventures of the valiant knight Ascanio della Corgna.
Castiglione's Rocca del Leone is now used as an open-air theater, which, in the summer months, stages a series of evening concerts
In the summer, ferries transport visitors from Castiglione del Lago to Isola Maggiore, the island situated right in the middle of Lake Trasimeno (in the winter, boat services depart from Tuoro and Passignano). In 1211, St Francis spent the entire duration of lent on the island.
A visit to Isola Maggiore, still inhabited mainly by fishermen and their families, is often combined with a trip to the larger Isola Polvese and the Water Plants Garden created in an ancient sand quarry.
Isola Polvese also has a castle, a 14th century fort built primarily for defense purposes. Towards the end of the 15th century the island's imposing Olivetani Monastery was constructed, next to the Romanesque Church of San Secondo, of which only the ruins remain.
A sculpture garden and the bloodiest of battles
Back on dry land, we head towards Tuoro sul Trasimeno, destined to enter the history books as the site of the 217 B.C Battle of Trasimeno, fought between the Carthaginens led by Hannibal and the army of Rome.
Commemorating this event, in which much blood was spilled (apparently enough to make the waters of the lake turn red), a Permanent documentation Center of the Battle of Trasimeno has been created.
Whilst you're in Tuoro, make sure you visit Piero Cascella's Campo del Sole.The garden, created between 1985 and 1989, contains a large spiral of 27 sculpted columns set around a central table surmounted by a solar symbol
Castles and designer cashmere
The town of Magione is dominated by its Castle of the Knights of Malta, constructed in the 13th century by the Gerosolimitani to offer hospitality to pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena on their way to Rome.
Between the 14th and 15th centuries, the hilltop edifice was fortified and thus assumed its imposing aspect, complete with circular towers and overlapping loggias.
The last part of our trip around the lake takes us to Solomeo. Since 1979, this small town has been home to Brunello Cucinelli's cashmere factory (and outlet).
Brunello was responsible for the restoration of the medieval town, which he financed in the belief that the beauty of his workers' immediate surroundings would be extremely beneficial to both their overall wellbeing and efficiency.
Hotels in the area
From € 178.00
Città della Pieve
From € 150.00
Tavernelle di Panicale