Archive for the Lake Trasimeno Category

Paddle Boarding On Lake Trasimeno

Paddle boarding on Lake Trasimeno is a lovely activity on a hot summer’s day. There are several beaches around the Lake where you can hire boards, these photos are from Sualzo Beach which is located next to Passignano Sailing Club on the north shore of the Lake. 

It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and you’ll soon find yourself out in Lake looking back to the distant shore, if you find yourself overheating from the exertion you can always stop for a quick swim. It cost €10 an hour to hire a board.

Paddle Boarding On Lake Trasimeno
You Can Always Sit Down If It Gets Too Much

Pian di Marte Walk 2016

In early June 2016 I took a couple of friends on the Pian di Marte Walk, a route from my book, Circular Walks On The Tuscany Umbria Border, available as a Kindle download from Amazon. It’s a fairly long walk and took us over 4 hours, so it’s not a route if you are planning a quick stroll. It starts with a tough climb from the valley floor up to ridges with views of Lake Trasimeno followed by a descent through thickly wooded hillsides.

If you ever bought the original hard copy of the book you may recognise the Torre di Fiume which featured on the cover photo. A decade later, the tower is almost fully restored and makes for a very fancy residence. We finished just in time, no sooner had we arrived back home than we heard the ominous rumble of thunder.

A Tour At The Mezzetti Winery, Vernazzano, Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

As you may know I run a tour a I Girasoli di Sant’Andrea Winery in the Niccone Valley. I have recently qualified as an Italian sommelier and am always interested to try wines and visit other wineries. In the last few years, the wines from Lake Trasimeno have caught my attention for their quality and great value for money. As the Lake is close to many of our rental villas I’ve been thinking about putting an itinerary together for a wine themed tour in this area. Last week I visited the Mezzetti winery on the north shore of Lake Trasimeno. The winery is just outside the village of Vernazzano, well known in the area for its leaning tower. You can read about a Walk From Tuoro To The Leaning Tower of Vernazzano by clicking on the link.

The Mezzetti winery owns around 13 hectares of vineyard and several thousand olive trees. The vineyards are in Umbria (Lake Trasimeno) and Tuscany (Cortona) and the wines produced from each area are kept separate. The tour (in English) lasts around 45 minutes and covers olive oil and wine production followed by a tasting. We tasted seven wines and for me the best were the two Tuscan Sangiovese, one priced at €7 and the other €15. In my opinion the best value for money was the €7 Sangiovese, aged for four months in oak.

The wines priced at €7 were a Grechetto (white), Syrah (rosé), an unoaked Sangiovese / Cabernet / Merlot blend (all Umbrian) and the pure Sangiovese (Tuscan with 4 months in oak) that I mention above. I also quite liked the unoaked blend but, given that it was the same price as the more structured (and interesting) Sangiovese, the latter was the obvious choice to buy.

The wines priced at €15 were a Sangiovese, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, all Cortona DOC, all good wines but the Sangiovese was my clear favourite for the money. They do make a Cortona DOC Syrah too but, unfortunately, there wasn’t any available to try.

The tour takes place on Wednesday mornings, it starts at 10am and the tasting finishes around 12 midday, the cost is €5/head, phone ahead to book a place.

Tel 0039.0.575.678528 – 0039.335.8305853.

 

Olive oil production is explaned during a visit to the Mezzetti winery near Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy
In the vineyard at the Mezzetti winery near Lake Trasimeno, Umbria, Italy
The wines from the Mezzetti Winery are grown in both Tuscany and Umbria

Casa del Lupo Viewed From Above

Here are some photos and video footage of another of our holiday villas, Casa del Lupo, taken with our drone. Casa del Lupo is on the edge of a hamlet, Val di Rosa, in the Pian di Marte, a valley just to the north of Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy.

Casa del Lupo and the Pian di Marte, Umbria, Italy

Casa del Lupo and the Pian di Marte, Umbria, Italy

Casa del Lupo swimming pool viewed from above

Casa del Lupo swimming pool viewed from above

 

 

The Battle Of Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno is entirely within the Italian region of Umbria but, in places, the Tuscan border runs very close to the northern and western shores. There was intense fighting in World War II near the Lake as allied forces pushed the Germans back from what was known as the Trasimeno Line. However, when people talk about the Battle of Lake Trasimeno they are referring to fighting which took place 2200 years ago and had a higher death toll.

Map of the Battle of Lake Trasimeno on a wall in Tuoro

Map of the Battle on a wall in Tuoro

The Battle of Lake Trasimeno took place on the northern shore of the Lake in 217 BC. It was one of the bloodiest battles (and worst defeats for the Romans) of the second Punic War. The Punic Wars were fought between the Mediterranean super- powers of Rome and Carthage (a city on the coast of what is now Tunisia); they ultimately led to the destruction of Carthage and the dominance of Rome. Carthage was a city founded by the Phoenicians, a people who traded widely around the Mediterranean and who originated from the Middle East.

The flat ground where most of the fighting took place

The flat ground where most of the fighting took place

The Carthaginian general at Lake Trasimeno was Hannibal. The unorthodox military tactics used by Hannibal led to a series of defeats for the Romans; he came very close to halting the rise of their empire. The capture of Rome seemed a likely prospect after Trasimeno; if the non-Roman tribes had joined him in his campaign it could easily have happened. Memories of Hannibal’s campaign were still fresh in the minds of the Romans six decades later when the Senate voted to completely destroy Carthage in what would become known as the 3rd Punic War.

After crossing the Alps, and having won a resounding victory at Trebbia (near Piacenza), Hannibal’s army was marching towards Rome. Hannibal was deliberately laying waste to the countryside and towns that he captured. This tactic was intended to provoke the Romans into a hasty, ill-considered attack. The Roman Commander, Caius Flaminius (Caio Flaminio), was advancing south down the Val di Chiana from Arezzo. He thought he was well behind the enemy army and was probably hoping to meet up with reinforcements south of Perugia before facing Hannibal in battle.

A Legionnaire at Trasimeno

A Legionnaire at Trasimeno

Hannibal had in fact deployed his army in the hills above Sanguineto, just to the north west of Tuoro. From here he could watch and surprise the advancing Roman army. At dawn of 24 June 217 BC, the Romans were advancing into the ambush. During the night, some of Hannibal’s men had lit fires on the hill near Castel Rigone to give the impression that they were still half a day’s march away.

To the right of the marching Romans was the swampy shore of the Lake. The water level was higher than today, roughly equivalent to the route of the road between Tuoro and Terontola. To their left were the slopes hiding Hannibal’s army. This carefully chosen topography meant that once the Roman army had entered the narrow gap between the Lake and hills (now called Malpasso), there was no escape. To make matters worse, fog blanketed the lake and lower ground, further obscuring the Carthiginians’ presence from the Romans. Without warning, Hannibal attacked the marching Roman columns. They did not have time to organise into battle formation and, for the Romans; it rapidly became a case of every man for himself. 15,000 Romans were killed for the loss of 1,500 men in Hannibal’s army.

Gaulish cavalry fightng at Trasimeno

Gaulish cavalry fightng at Trasimeno

It seems likely that several place names in the area have origins resulting from the Battle. Sanguineto, (the place of blood), Ossaia (the place of bones), Sepoltaglia, (the place of tombs), Malpasso (bad pass) and Pian di Marte (Plain of Mars, the Roman God of War). Others claim that Marte is a corruption of martire, Italian for martyr, and refers to the Roman prisoners who were executed there.

For the next two years, the Romans avoided meeting Hannibal in open battle. When they tried again at Cannae in southern Italy (215 BC), they lost 70,000 men out of an army of 80,000 deployed against a force of around 45,000 on Hannibal’s side. In a battle still studied by military tacticians, Hannibal deployed his heavy Gaulish infantry in a thin convex curve. As the Roman infantry attacked, the curve gradually fell back into a concave shape. Hannibal had held his elite African troops in reserve and they now attacked the Roman flanks. The Romans found themselves surrounded on three sides and unable to use their greater numbers to their advantage. Meanwhile, the superior Carthaginian cavalry chased the Roman cavalry from the battlefield and then attacked the infantry from behind.

Once again, Hannibal failed to take Rome after the battle and gradually the Romans learned to copy his tactics. He was defeated in Africa 13 years later (202 BC) by the Roman general Scipio Africanus, who had been one of the few to escape from Cannae. Instead of fulfilling his dream of destroying Rome, Hannibal had inadvertenly taught them the military tactics that helped them to create their empire.

You can follow a Battle of Lake Trasimeno walk in my book Circular Walks on the Tuscany Umbria border. The walk starts and ends in Tuoro sul Trasimeno and takes you on paths high above the battle ground before crossing the flat ground where the majority of the fighting took place.

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The Leaning Tower Of Vernazzano Walk

Today I went on a walk from my book Circular Walks On The Tuscany Umbria Border. The walk is to the leaning tower of Vernazzano on the north shore of Lake Trasimeno.

The Leaning Tower of Vernazzano

The Leaning Tower of Vernazzano

We started off in the town of Tuoro sul Trasimeno and after a few minutes were soon walking through pleasantly mixed countryside comprising woods, olive groves, vineyards and pasture.

On The Leaning Tower Of Vernazzano Walk

On The Leaning Tower Of Vernazzano Walk

For much of the walk, Lake Trasimeno forms a backdrop to the scenery.

Isola Maggiore On Lake Trasimeno

Isola Maggiore On Lake Trasimeno

At the furthest point of the route we arrived at the Leaning Tower of Vernazzano, it has an incline greater than the campanile at Pisa. The tower started to lean after an earthquake in the the 18th Century. In 2004, cables were fixed to the tower and a large concrete counterweight sunk in the ground nearby.

The Leaning Tower Of Vernazzano With Supporting Cables

The Leaning Tower Of Vernazzano With Supporting Cables

There was once a thriving village around the tower but landslips into the steep ravines on either side meant the settlement was abandoned and rebuilt on the other side of the gorge. The walk takes 2.5 to three hours and is relatively easy. There are two bars in Tuoro were tired walkers can refresh themselves with a cold glass of beer!

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Saturday Market In Cortona, Tuscany

Yesterday I took my niece Jess to Cortona, a hill town in Cortona. On Saturdays there is a small market in Piazza Signorelli. I was also keen to try out my new wide angle and telephoto lenses, fortunately for me, Cortona is a beautiful town and there was plenty of subject matter to shoot.

Piazza della Repubblica, Cortona, Tuscany

Piazza della Repubblica, Cortona, Tuscany

After taking a few shots in the Piazza della Repubblica we moved on to Piazza Signorelli and the market.

Vegetables at the Cortona Saturday market

Vegetables at the Cortona Saturday market

Afterwards it was time for a coffee and a hot chocolate in La Saletta, a bar on via Nazionale, Cortona’s main shopping street.

Cappuccino at Bar La saletta in Cortona

Cappuccino at Bar La saletta in Cortona

We decided it was time for a visit to the Museo Diocesano to see Fra’ Angelico’s magnificent altarpiece and paintings by Luca Signorelli and futurist artist Gino Severini.

Fra Angelico's Annunciation in Cortona

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation in Cortona

It was now time for the steep walk up Cortona’s streets towards the church of Santa Margherita and the Medici fortress at the top of the town.

The view from above Santa Margherita, Cortona

The view from above Santa Margherita, Cortona

Catching our breath at the top, we wandered into Santa Margherita where the body of Cortona’s patron saint lies in a glass coffin.

The body of Santa Margherita, Cortona

The body of Santa Margherita, Cortona

Then it was one final climb to the Medici Fortress for some incredible views across the Val di Chiana and of Lake Trasimeno. From here we wandered down a different path back to the via Nazionale, our visit to Cortona was at an end.

A Fiat 500 in the streets of Cortona

A Fiat 500 in the streets of Cortona

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Lake Trasimeno Bike Ride

In May 2012 I cycled the 60 kilometre route around Lake Trasimeno on a beautiful spring day. We set off from Tuoro along unpaved roads and tracks marked with green arrows as the “PCT” or Percorso Ciclabile Trasimeno (Trasimeno Cycling Route) and a smattering of red MTB signs as the “Grande Anello Trasimeno” (Great Trasimeno Ring).

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno

If you are on holiday on the Tuscany Umbria border and don’t have a bike, you can hire them from several points around the lake, including Tuoro Lido, our point of departure. We set off in a clockwise direction and soon found ourselves cycling through the busy lakeside town of Passignano. One or two of the party thought we should stop here for a leisurely coffee, but our group pushed on, heading down the eastern shore of the lake. Later on when we reached San Feliciano, near the south eastern corner, we all agreed it was time for a break at a lakeside bar. It was very relaxing looking across the water to Isola Polvese. Feeling refreshed, we set off once more, however, I couldn’t resist stopping to photograph the fishing boats in the San Feliciano Marina.

The marina at San Feliciano, Lake Trasimeno

The marina at San Feliciano

I soon caught up with the rest of the gang, but we were starting to spread out along the trail. The leaders stooped at this picturesque point on the southern shore while we regrouped. It wasn’t far to our next destination, San Archangelo, where we headed to La Perla Nera, a restaurant that served a two course meal with wine and water for €10 a head, it would be hard to find a better deal than that!

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno

Most of the next stretch to Castiglione  del Lago was along surfaced roads, there were still lovely views across the fields to the Lake and the surrounding hills.

A view from the shore of Lake Trasimeno

A view from the shore of Lake Trasimeno

As we entered the outskirts of Castiglione del Lago we turned right and followed the quieter lakeside road. The Rocca, or castle, which dominates this part of the lake, loomed above to our left.

The castle at Castiglione del Lago

The castle at Castiglione del Lago

We stopped here for refreshments and wandered down to the lake shore, the shallow water at the edge was quite warm. This was quite a change from three months ago when the lake started to freeze over in a bout of prolonged, and very cold, winter weather.

I had never come down to this bit of the shore, usually we head to the beach at Tuoro as it nearer, but this looked like it might be worth a visit, it just shows that a bike is a great way to discover new places. Soon, we were back on our bikes for the last stretch to Tuoro. This part of the ride starts at Castiglione del Lago Aerodrome and follows pleasant and well maintained lakeside tracks.

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno in Umbria

Cycling around Lake Trasimeno

It was a hot afternoon and we were grateful for the shade of the trees. Finally we arrived back at our starting point, Tuoro Lido, it was definitely time for a cold glass of Birra Moretti!

A welcome bottle of Birra Moretti at the end of the Lake Trasimeno bike ride

A welcome bottle of Birra Moretti at the end

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Lake Trasimeno Image Gallery

These astounding photos of Lake Trasimeno were taking by a visitor, Patrick Partington, who stayed with us last winter and kindly gave me permission to use his images.

Winter sunset on Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

Winter sunset on Lake Trasimeno, Umbria

Lake Trasimeno is Italy’s fourth largest Lake and is a backdrop to much of the scenery on the Tuscany Umbria border.

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