2 – 3 June: A lakeside retreat in Umbria

Author: Mrs A

Location: Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno, Umbria, Italy

Sunday: Although part of me felt I really should be spending more time in Florence, perhaps visiting the art in the Ufizzi Gallery or one of the many Leonardo da Vinci exhibitions I just couldn’t face a day amongst the crowds after getting back to camp well after midnight from the UK.

Instead we packed up and hit the road, driving just over an hour south-east from Florence to Lake Trasimeno. At 128 square kilometers surface area, Lake Trasimeno is the fourth largest lake in Italy (slightly smaller than Lake Como, the third largest). The town I selected purely on the reviews of where to stay – the lakeside sosta sounding peaceful and picturesque – just what the doctor ordered.

After a relaxing lunch, we jumped on the bikes for a ride. There is a route which goes right around the lake – just over 70kms, but apparently the heavy rains during the winter have raised the lake’s levels and some of the pathways are covered with water. We decided to do a 45km return ride, heading towards the north of the lake from our sosta. It was a perfect day for ride – the weather warm but not too hot, birds singing, cuckoos calling from the woodland, butterflies fluttering by, everyone in a great mood…

Such a picturesque ride

The pathway wound its way along the shore, through poppy lined fields and over reed lined bridges. The views kept on coming.

Couldn’t resist this diversion for a perfect field of poppies!

You often don’t see the water, but the surrounding countryside is lovely
A brief water break
A rowing boat sitting on a quiet inlet
I had to run over this rickety old bridge
The locals enjoy a cooling dip too

Definitely up there with one of the best rides we have ever done, and one we’d be keen to repeat and perhaps complete the whole circuit.

Monday: We started our day more locally, jumping on the bikes again and heading into Castiglione del Lago. As with many towns with an ancient history, this is located up on a hill, overlooking the lake. It has a fortification which dates from 1247, currently used for shows with its natural amphitheatre.

‘Castle of the lion’ – which later became Castiglione…
Looks like a great spot for moonlight cinema
Remains of round towers
Ancient olive trees cast strange shadows with their near hollow trunks

The old town is very pretty, full of bars, restaurants and little shops selling local produce. Mr A did find a shop with a 50% off sale and made a few clothes purchases, and we did a little wine tasting along the way. Around every corner there is a medieval gateway framing yet another fine view. Just lovely.

Perfect eBike territory with lots of steep hills
Free wine and chorizo tasting? Why not!
Another gateway frames a lovely view
More lake views across the terracotta rooftops

Mr A had spotted Cantina Del Trasimeno, a wine co-operative, not far from where we were camped which was offering free wine tasting, so we decided to head along late afternoon for a sample. It turns out it is an outlet for more than 2,000 wineries from the local region – that’s the area around the lake, not even the whole of Umbria!

Mr A looking excited to sample some local grapes
Our lovely host – excellent English skills and some fabulous wines

We tried a selection of rosetta, blanco and rosso wines, and placed and order for 18 bottles. We are meeting up with friends in a week’s time and are keen to share some local drops.

From here, we jumped back on the bikes and back along the lake, it was Monday afternoon after all, and the lakeside bars were already serving. We found a bar with nice waterside tables and settle down with a beverage to enjoy the view.

Ahh the serenity
Dramatic looking skies did not bring any storms

We really like the feel of this area, a lot less touristy than Tuscany (we barely heard an American accent – sorry USA friends!) and very beautiful. The wine is delicious, the climate lovely at this time of year and for us the cycling opportunities not too hilly and interesting. It is definitely a region we would be keen to return to in the future. Added to our (ever growing) list!

Enjoying our lakeside view – just €16 a night
Final sunset…off in the morning

2 Replies to “2 – 3 June: A lakeside retreat in Umbria”

  1. Wise move leaving Florence behind! I was first there 40 years ago when it was easy to wander around the Uffizi and other highlights. Now it’s simply over crowded with too many folk simply ticking it off their bucket list. Much nicer finding uncrowded, off the beaten track places – Italy has so much to offer!

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