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Peter S wrote a review Mar 2020
Rome, Italy2,789 contributions205 helpful votes
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Isola Maggiore, Lago Trasimeno, Umbria Lago Trasimeno is half-way along the Italian peninsular – about mid-way between Rome and Firenza – and generally considered the fourth largest lake in the country at 124 km2 surface area and perimeter 50 km. There are bike and walking trails that follow the lake shore for those interested but, for us, there simply wasn’t the time available. In addition, we had small kids in tow and ambient temperatures mid-summer mid-year had been in the high 30s degC, and there was more than sufficient interest in the geography, history and social development of the local people to keep us busy for the week. There’s more too - Lago Trasimeno is in Umbria with all those gorgeous tourist/culinary pleasures/images typical of the lake and surrounding towns and countryside. Italy at its best. Lago Trasimeno has three islands: Isola Polvese – the largest at 70 ha – Isola Maggiore (the only one with a permanent population) 24 ha and Isola Minore – privately owned – not open to Mario Rossi (aka ‘Joe Public’). The history of the lake and the islands encompasses the Etruscans, the Romans and the Umbrian people – Ombri/Ombrii – one of the ancient Italic peoples who date back >3,000 years. It was the Romans who eventually dominated, settling and incorporating the region into their greater empire (as they were to do across much of the Europe of the day). Our second visit to Isola Polvese – this time we took the ferry from Passignano. We nearly missed it too, leaving barely time to find somewhere to park close to the terminus; last on board for the mid-day boat. It took little more than 20 minutes to cross to the island. Ten years ago (we figured), we’d taken the longer crossing from Castiglione del Lago – we were staying in the neighbourhood for a long weekend. Short or longer ferry journeys … the island seemed much the same as before; easy, friendly, small, comfortable with mostly shaded walking around the perimeter of the island and across the centre – lots to see - pleasant experience. Cross the centre of the island and the trail climbs, but this is still easy walking and distances are short. Your circuit should take in the statue of St Francis that commemorates his celebration of Lent on the island 800 years ago. Then passed Villa Guglielmi (‘Isabelle Castle’) – a gorgeous rambling period structure dating from the late 1880s and built upon/around a convent and the Church of S. Francesco. The place is fenced and you can’t get in - with wall boards describing the renovation work undertaken. Unfortunately, this work was abandoned when the money ran out in 2010. Now the place is for sale (and with it you get 4.25 ha land – 20% of the island). On the hill in the centre of the island between the Villa and the village/jetty is where the Church of San Michele Arcangelo is located. You pay to enter – for the talk/guided tour that takes in the frescos and the history of the island – typically in Italian, but also in English (and offered by the guide that afternoon when she picked up our language). Interesting interior with some fine views outside across the lake. Leave time in which to wander the long single street (Via Guglielmi) in the village - line of houses on both sides across 8 m paving, well-maintained almost elegant in appearance and belying their 14-15th century origin. Renovated in the 1950s. What you do find, in contrast to the mainland, is a pedestrianized street with no motorized vehicles – what a difference that this makes to the feel of the community; quiet and easy to wander, stand and explore. This is where you find the museum, Captain’s house, couple of restaurants/bars and a public toilet. The museum provides a glimpse of the recent and distance past – photos, diagrams and pictures – agriculture, fisheries and, nowadays, tourism. Tickets €2/each – good value. Fishing dominated through to the early 20th century harvesting carp, pike and tench – check out the importance of fish/technologies/employment/security of the lake and, in direct context, the constant effort required to ensure sufficient water - to maintain levels in the lake. The ancient port together with the original lake level/monitoring structures are adjacent to the modern jetty. Just on 100 years ago modern lace-making was introduced from Ireland as a small-scale enterprise to help provide employment to augment declining traditional land/lake industries (and to slow the drift of young people from the island); the industry remains with a handful of lace-makers selling mainly to the tourists passing through. If you’re fortunate, you may find one or more lace-makers seated outside in the shade of a house, heads down and quietly knitting. The museum describes the trade and has a fine selection of garments on display. And, not least, the malarial mosquito that was a perennial issue for those living close to the lake through to the mid-20th century when it was effectively eradicated/controlled with improved understanding of the disease/medicines, drainage and judicious use of chemicals. Mid-August 2019 and there was no noticeable issue with mosquitoes during our time there. Looking back … some pleasant memories of an island at the centre of local history – we enjoyed the pleasure of exploring – and this, without even taking in the Second Punic War and the Battle of Lago Trasimeno that was fought just to the north of the current lake shore in which the Carthaginians under Hannibal routed the Roman Army in 217 BCE. We just didn’t have the time in which to explore further. Memories of open boats, high/clear skies and the distant shorelines remain. It was August and Isola Maggiore and Lago Trasimeno provided a quiet/peaceful place in which to appreciate Umbria at its best. Peter Steele 18 March 2020
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Date of experience: August 2019
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IMIGNOTO wrote a review Aug 2019
4 contributions1 helpful vote
Took the ferry over from Tuoro Navaccia to the island and walked the shore north and back over the higher trail. Lovely views of the North and East shores.Best done earlier in the day. Be warned- the public toilets on the embarking side had no toilet paper, and the only public WC on the island was filthy beyond description.
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Date of experience: August 2019
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CheekyLondon wrote a review Aug 2019
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom1,378 contributions469 helpful votes
We went here on the short boat trip from Castiglione del Lago. It only takes 30 minutes to get here. One main road, traffic free. You can walk or cycle round the island quite quickly as it's small. The main street has a few souvenir shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. We got here quite early so there were only a few visitors and this was nice. We watched a fishing boat fishing in the calm waters of the lake - fascinating. There is a tourist information office and the lady was very helpful. We saw local crafts being sold and also found out about the history of the island - the office itself is a delightfully old building. A very peaceful and relaxing experience.
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Date of experience: August 2019
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Mar1g0ld wrote a review Aug 2019
20 contributions28 helpful votes
We went early, catching the 8:45 ferry from Passignano. It was hot even at this time of the day but due to rise over 30 by midday. It was a great time to go, climbing the hill before it got too hot. We were advised to take water with us as not all the water taps would be working. €2 for the Lace Museum, the Captains house and the church at the top of the hill, which opens at 10:30 Lots of restaurant choices and souvenir shops As we were leaving (before midday) ferries full of people were arriving. If you want more of the island to yourself, go early. No problems with mosquitoes as mentioned in other posts, but we had put repellent on already. Enjoy your day!
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Date of experience: August 2019
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niallmcheshire wrote a review Jul 2019
Prestbury, United Kingdom224 contributions86 helpful votes
Take the slow boat over here and have a real chill out day Quiet bars and restaurant and s village full of nuns This is one for adults who are interested in squirt area...let the kids go to a lakeside beach rather than be bored with tranquility
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Date of experience: July 2019
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