Category: Traveling around Umbria and Tuscany
GO JUMP IN… LAKE TRASIMENO.
"Umbria," the word rolls around in the mouth, as luscious, dependable and complex as its famous wines...
There are the expected nuances: sweet green grass growing on the side of rolling hills, a crisp green nose of olives. The cheeky purple grapes, and bright yellow sunflower fields, surprise the tongue just before you can wash it all down.
The clear note of white sandy beach though, for me at least, was a surprise.
It’s big, it's blue and so far, relatively undiscovered (shhh).
Lake Trasimeno’s sparkling waters not only provide respite from the heat of summer, but are shallow (safe) and clean. Thanks to a fairly small local population and few farms, the water quality is very good.
Just 15 minutes from Villa Gioiella, the glistening lake’s surprisingly uncrowded sandy beaches host umbrellas, deck chairs, bronzing Italians (+ the odd Villa Gioiella guest), pedaloes, bicycles and motorbikes (vespas of course)- all for hire (except the people- not here anyway). Sun bathing, swimming and playing the odd spot of volleyball is free! A small playground, is next to the beach and bouncy castle suddenly appears in the summer.
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From Villa Gioiella, follow signs for the ‘Lido,’ Castiglione del Lago beach. A large free parking area is located opposite a ‘café,’ where you can top up on strong coffee, icy beer and packaged ice cream in any particular order. You can use your own umbrella/chairs on the grass (provided at the villa) but not on the sand during summer.
*For summer swimming, the best and closest beach to the villa, is at Castiglione del Lago. But there are also beaches at the lido in Tuoro, and on Isola Polvese.
Lake Trasimeno Holiday Activities.
Cycle Ride Around Lake Trasimeno
Hiring bikes couldn't be easier. At Castiglione del Lago beach, bikes can be picked up and dropped off all around the Lake. The entire way takes around 4 hours to cycle, with spectacular views. The entire circuit is possibly more suitable for for teenagers but there are stretches between Tuoro beach and Castiglione del Lago that are off-road for younger kids.
Vespas can be hired. http://www.umbriainvespa.com/
Tuoro and Passignano are where you should head for activities. Sailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, kiteboarding and diving.
FERRIES to the ISLANDS OF TRASIMENO
Boats depart regularly from Castiglione del Lago, Tuoro and Passignano.
Isola Maggiore has a quaint town of small stone houses, a couple of restaurants (often full, especially on weekends). St Francis of Assisi lived on the island as a hermit around 1211, A legend tells of an encounter between St. Francis and a fish. St. Francis threw back a pike given him by a local fisherman and the grateful fish followed St. Francis around the lake until the saint gave it a special blessing- that was one demanding pike! St. Francis and "Brother Fish" are commemorated in the island's C12 church, Saint Michael the Archangel (on the top of the hill). The island is also known for its lacemakers Olive trees on the island are hundreds of years old. There is a trail around the island through olives, holm oak, pine, and cypress trees.
Isola Polvese is a nature park, with a large wetland covered in reeds, birds and wildlife. An agriturismo serves meals, and there is a lovely nice beach. A medieval fortress dates back to the 13th Century, and there is a 'Garden of Aquatic Plants,' made from in an old swimming pool dug into the rock.
The ferry offices are on the waterfront.
Passignano to Castiglione del Lago: 40 minutes
San Feliciano to Isola Polvese:10 minutes
Castiglione del Lago to Isola Maggiore: 30 minutes.
Services leave every hour between Easter and September.
LAKE TRASIMENO HISTORY
Hannibal ambushed two Roman legions near Tuoro, 217 BC and over 15,000 legionnaires died. According to legend, the sacred chickens refused to eat their breakfast, which was a dead giveaway that the Roman commander should have avoided battle that day! Two villages, Sanguineto ("the place of blood") and Ossaia ("the place of bones") to this day, commemorate the events.