Trasimeno is Italy’s fourth largest lake and its biggest non-Alpine lake. Located in central Italy’s Umbria region, about 15 miles west of Perugia, the lake’s northwestern shore touches the border of Tuscany and the Trasimeno basin stretches as far west as the Tuscan hill town of Montepulciano and as far north as Cortona.
Lake Trasimeno is known for a famous battle between Hannibal and the Romans as well as for its stunningly beautiful sunsets. Medieval towns and villages dot the lake shore or perch on hilltops nearby, some with remains of castles or towers. Abbeys and Renaissance churches as well as olive groves and wooded areas dot the countryside. Around the lake are fishing harbors, beaches, and places to rent boats during summer season and within the lake are 3 picturesque islands.
Top Places to Go on Lake Trasimeno
- Castiglione del Lago, with easy train access, is one of the lake’s most popular resort towns, Set in a beautiful position above the lake, the town has a pretty medieval center with restaurants and shops, a 13th century castle that can be visited and where concerts are held in summer, and great views. In the historic center stay at the family-run 3-star Hotel La Torre or Il Torrione Bed & Breakfast with a lake view terrace. For a countryside stay with a swimming pool, try Agriturismo Dolce Verde.
- Passignano sul Trasimeno, right on the northern lake shore, is another popular town with a pretty historic center. A 14th century castle sits above the town and below it is a good stretch of beach and a park. Ferries for Isola Maggiore leave from the harbor nearby. You can hike to the remains of a Roman villa and an ancient fortress in the nearby hills. Hotel La Vela is a well-located 3-star hotel near the historic center, lake, and railway station. Hotel Kursaal, with beautiful gardens and a pool, is on the lake shore less than a mile from the town center.
- Isola Maggiore is known for its traditional handmade lace and as the place where Saint Francis stayed for the 40 days of Lent. A monastery dating from 1328 commemorated this event but later Guglielmi Castle was erected on the remains in the 19th century. Visit the Museum of Lace. have a seafood lunch, and walk around the pretty medieval center, once inhabited by families of the many fishermen who lived on the island.
- Tuoro sul Trasimeno is the site of Hannibal’s historic defeat of the Roman soldiers in 217 BC. The Percorso Storico Archeologico della Battaglia is marked by signposts and viewing platforms with explanatory notes and maps telling the story of the battle. Ferries also go to Isola Maggiore from Tuoro’s harbor. Antica Residenza i Capricci di Merion, on the edge of town and 1.2 miles from the lake, is in an Art Noveau building and has a swimming pool, wellness center, and restaurant.
- Monte del Lago, set on a small promontory on the lake’s eastern shore, is a quiet village with a medieval center that has lake views on 3 sides. It’s on the Grande Anello Trasimeno, a biking and walking path around the lake, part of which is on a special trail (marked by signage for the PCT Percorso Ciclabile Trasimeno or Trasimeno Bike Route) and part on driving roads.
- Isola Polvese, the lake’s largest island, is a nature park that’s a great place for bird watching or hiking. The island can be reached by ferry from San Feliciano, south of Monte del Lago.
Lake Trasimeno Transportation
Castiglione del Lago, on the lake’s west coast, is on the Rome to Florence rail line while Passignano sul Trasimeno and Tuoro sul Trasimeno on the lake’s north coast can be reached on the Ancona (on Italy’s east coast) to Florence rail line. Local buses connect towns around the lake.
If you’re arriving by car, take the A1 autostrada between Rome and Florence (to the west of the lake) and exit at Fabro, Chiusi-Chianciano Terme, or Valdichiana. Roads ring the lake and the highway between Perugia and Bettole runs near the north shore.
- Walking in Umbria: 40 Walks in the Green Heart of Italy
- DK Eyewitness Umbria
- The Rough Guide to Tuscany and Umbria
When to Go
High season at Lake Trasimeno is April through October with the biggest crowds during the summer months when temperatures are best for swimming or lying on the beach. Many restaurants and places to stay in the lake towns close outside the season. Trasimeno Blues festival holds concerts, exhibitions, and events in various venues around the lake for a few weeks in July and August.
Thanks to Rebecca Winke, a long-time resident of Assisi, for providing some of the above information.
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