The Islands of Lake Trasimeno
Islands of tranquility
Slowly the ferry boat chugs to the only inhabited island in Lake Trasimeno. Men sit in front of their houses mending their fishing nets, and women produce a special kind of pillow lace (Pizzo d'Irlanda), which was introduced by an Irish lady on the island in the 19th century.
An Irish lady on an island in Lake Trasimeno?
In 1890 the Marchese Giacinto Guglielmi built the Isabella castle on the island, a luxurious residence in romantic style. And he brought an Irish lace maker to the island to provide an additional livelihood to the fishermens' families.
The lace making homework still exist, but the castle has been dreaming in a Sleeping Beauty slumber since the 1960s. Again and again there were rumors of possible investors, who wanted to turn the castle into a noble resort. But until now, no "Knight of Money" seems to have penetrated the ever-growing hedge around the enchanted castle ...
If you climb the top of the island you will find a small church in the middle of an olive grove: San Michele Archangelo. Pheasants wander through the high growing wild fennel and euphorbia. A very quiet place. The church can be visited for a small fee and shows inside some simple but touching frescoes.
A path leads to a rock on the eastern bank of the island, where Saint Francis of Assisi, in 1211, sought solitude and closeness to God for forty days. Here, as in many other places in Umbria (also close to La Rogaia) there are those rocks that allegedly served the saint as a resting bed in his pilgrimages. However, most of them are so uncomfortable that they hardly can have offered a good night's rest, not even to a hard-boiled ascetic like Saint Francis.
Fresh fish from the lake
After a walk around the island you should have a meal at "Da Sauro". You will sit in a shaded garden that reaches down to the lake front.
Their specialty is the "Regina in porchetta", baked king carp with a filling of fennel and bacon. The other fish specialty of the Trasimeno, the "Tegamaccio" (fish soup), is also highly recommended, as well as the small fish delicacies for starters.
The service is friendly, the atmosphere very relaxing. And it might happen that you will miss your ferry just to enjoy one of their delicious desserts. No problem, there will be another ferry and you are on holidays and have all the time to enjoy! After a romantic dinner, however, you will need to be picked up by the boat taxi, because the last ferry will have left already before sunset...
Da Sauro Ristorante
Via Guglielmi 1
Isola maggiore sul Lago Trasimeno (PG)
tel. 075 826168
fax +39 075 826727
The largest island in Lake Trasimeno is uninhabited, apart from a youth hostel, a small center for environmental education and a restaurant with bar.
You can reach the island by ferry boat from San Feliciano. Since the island is relatively close to the shore, you can also go by kayak or even swim.
The beach on the north side of the island is always quite busy in summer, since the water here is fresh.
From the beach a wonderful shady path with huge laurel trees leads to the western tip of the island. Here you can sit on rocks and look over to the Isola Maggiore and to Castiglione del Lago.
You can walk back across the island. Everywhere gnarly olive trees and on the highest point the remains of the convent of San Secondo, already abandoned in 1624.
Photos on this page: Hermann V.
Lago Trasimeno in autumn
Autumn is one of the nicest times of the year to visit Umbria:
Very few tourists, mostly sunny days, culinary delicacies such as mushrooms, game and freshly pressed olive oil.
Book a holiday apartment at Villa La Rogaia in October 2017:
Special offers with up to EUR 200 discount per apartment and week!