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Castiglione del Lago

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Castiglione del Lago

A tough route from the Tiber Valley to Lake Trasimeno

Test your true grit on the hills that border Lake Trasimeno

from 90€ Per person
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Birdwatching in Umbria, on the shores of Lake Trasimeno

Discover birdwatching in Umbria by visiting the natural oasis on Lake Trasimeno.

from 50€ Per person
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Etruscan Umbria – From Corciano to the underground tomb of the Volumni family

Discovering the Etruscans. The first stage of the itinerary in search of the great Necropolis

from 70€ Per person
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Food and wine tour to discover Trasimeno wines

The food and wine tour discovering the wines of the Lake Trasimeno hills.

105€ Per person
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From Panicale towards the hills of Perugia

From the shores of lake Trasimeno, setting off from one of the most beautiful villages and heading out towards Perugia’s hills

from 70€ Per person
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On a MTB between Umbria and Tuscany with a tour of 3 lakes

From Lake Trasimeno towards the Tuscan lakes of Chiusi and Valdichiana.

from 70€ Per person
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Short SUP excursion at Lake Trasimeno

A Stand Up Paddling excursion for a unique view of Lake Trasimeno!

80€ Per person
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SUP excursion on Lake Trasimeno

An unusual perspective of the Lake with the SUP on Lake Trasimeno 

130€ Per person
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The Hannibal walk – Trekking on Lake Trasimeno

Trekking on the hills of Lake Trasimeno on the trail of Hannibal at the sites of the mythical battle between the Romans and Carthaginians.

from 90€ Per person
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The hills of Lake Trasimeno by MTB

Up and down the hills around Lake Trasimeno.

from 50€ Per person
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The ring of the village of Santa Giuliana

A walk through magical woods, discovering beautiful villages, abbeys and hermitages.

from 90€ Per person
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Tour of Lake Trasimeno by MTB

Cycle along the shores of Lake Trasimeno on a MTB with this fantastic tour.

from 70€ Per person
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Discover Castiglione del Lago

Discover Castiglione del Lago, the town, its colours and the Trasimeno islands.

On a promontory overlooking Lake Trasimeno stands an enchanting little town that is steeped in history and where time seems to stand still: wonderful Castiglione del Lago. With over 15,000 inhabitants and located in the province of Perugia, it has been designated amongst the Borghi più belli d’Italia (Italy’s most beautiful towns) due to its exquisite characteristics. Its territory, which in ancient times was considered the fourth of Lake Trasimeno’s islands as the water level was significantly higher then, also includes the gorgeous Isola Polvese, the largest of the islands in the Lake Trasimeno basin.

The central and advantageous position of Castiglione del Lago meant that it was often disputed over the centuries. Etruscan and Roman populations contested it in the first instance, followed, later, by the Tuscan cities and Perugia. It was thus at the centre of several battles and numerous buildings and fortifications were destroyed over time. Over the centuries the city was subjected to various dominations: it was firstly ruled by Frederick II, which conferred moderate stability, then became a fiefdom under the Baglioni family, and then also a Papal State and a marquisate of the Corgna family.

Today it is a town steeped in history and offering breath-taking views over the whole of Lake Trasimeno and its surroundings.

Every year Castiglione del Lago embraces spring in a special way, proudly celebrating it with a traditional festival that has been held for over 50 years, the Festa del Tulipano e di Primavera (The Tulip and Spring Festival). Its exact origin dates back to 1956, when a number of Dutch families of tulip growers settled in the area. They bought plots of land for the cultivation and subsequent sale of these flowers which are still one of the most important symbols of the Netherlands. However, many of the tulips could not reach a stem length long enough to be sold and so the growers began to decorate the town with the beautiful, colourful short-stemmed tulips.

This custom has been maintained over time and passed down to the present day. Every year since then, at the end of April, the town is festooned with colours and releases seductive floral scents for a few days. The balconies and windows of the houses are filled with wonderful flowers, as are the shop windows, streets, alleys and squares. Nowadays, this event is among the most important in Castiglione del Lago. It re-evokes the past with an historical procession accompanied by flag-wavers, musicians and drummers. The residents of Castiglione walk the streets of the town together, wearing marvellous period costumes that enthral and enchant the many visitors. The people who participate in the event every year do so with great pride and heartfelt enthusiasm, keeping the heritage, traditions and history of the village alive: a precious legacy to be treasured over the centuries.

During the event, splendid allegorical floats pass by completely adorned with tulips. Created every year based on a theme, they are flanked during the parade by various city bands. There is also no shortage of historical camps providing entertainment for children. The residents of Magione parade in the guise of great personalities of the past, such as the Marquis Ascanio Della Corgna. The typical taverns of the past reopen, offering tastings of delicious dishes accompanied by a fine glass of local wine and there is an abundance of musical entertainment and game playing. Amongst the games and shows in period costume, concerts and dance performances, performances by street artists and the inevitable Spring Market stalls with the Hobby Fair, you will certainly find lots to do, see and enjoy.

The event also includes the ‘Balconies, Piazzas and Blooming Windows Competition’. The residents of Castiglione compete with each other to create the most beautiful flower displays on the balconies of their homes, in the squares and in the shop windows.

Every year, between late April and early May, for as many as 28 years, the skies of Castiglione del Lago have presented a unique display: a multitude of colourful kites flutter across the sky, driven by the wind and guided by the expert hands of skilful kites-fliers during the Coloriamo i Cieli event. There are always numerous participants who come from all over Italy as well as across Europe, making it an important, internationally-recognised event. It has also been awarded the ‘Heritage of Italy by Tradition’ recognition by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism. This event guarantees fun and entertainment for adults and children alike since kites have always been a symbol of freedom.

The event, which takes place at Eleuteri airport, includes a wide range of numerous activities: from free kite flying, to traction/power kite flying, various educational workshops for children, kite-building workshops, concerts, conferences and even hot air balloon flights! Another event, Voliamo con i libri (‘Let’s fly with books’), is also held daily, dedicated to reading books and numerous exhibits on flying. There are also guided tours to enable visitors to discover the area and its wonders: eco-friendly cycle rides, horse riding and mountain biking, the area’s delicious local products, and performances by street buskers and artists who involve visitors in lots of fun and games.

Thanks to the availability of large spaces, Eleuteri airport also hosts the Meeting di Primavera (Spring Meeting), an international event for professionals and enthusiasts of ultralight/microlight and leisure aviation, a real celebration for pilots! During this annual event, which also takes place between April and May, there are exciting air acrobatics by participants and flying is also possible even for those who have never flown before!

In March, Castiglione del Lago also offers a sporting event that is well known to athletes and the sporting public: Strasimeno. This 58-km ultramarathon is now in its 18th year. Thanks to its intermediate milestones, the full distance circuit need not be covered in full, so that it doubles up as a marathon or half marathon. Anyone wanting a more relaxing excursion can take part in the non-competitive walk, the Strasimeno Family, a route that is also suitable for families. The event is also geared to young people via the Strasimeno Young, which includes races through the streets of the historic centre of Castiglione del Lago created for youngsters.

Summer events involving Castiglione del Lago and other municipalities in the area of Lake Trasimeno also include the Trasimeno Blues Festival. Numerous artists perform blues numbers during this music festival as well as experiment with different musical genres. The concerts are held annually in the squares, with the voices and music of the artists enthralling residents as well as visitors from near and far.

The summer season, which usually runs from June to the end of August, also offers the public one of the longest-running film festivals in Italy, the Roccacinema. This outdoor festival takes place in the picturesque outdoor setting of the Rocca Medievale (Medieval Fortress).

The medieval fortress also hosts the Festival Internazionale del Folklore, which sees a dazzling encounter of culture and traditions between peoples from all over the world.

The end of August ushers in an unmissable event for classical music fans, the Festival di Musica Classica, held in the fascinating location of Palazzo della Corgna. Each year it hosts top notch guest performers, musicians and orchestras paying tribute to the great artists of the past who wrote the history of music.

Porto di Castiglione Del Lago instead hosts the Sagra del Pesce (Fish Festival), the annual event that takes place in the first weeks of August. Here the food and wine stands prepare excellent fish specialties from Lake Trasimeno, the stars on the menus offered during the festival.

Among the typical gastro specialties in Castiglione del Lago, don’t miss out on brustico (smoke-barbecued perch) and tegamaccio, a delicious soup prepared with lake fish or ‘regina in porchetta’: a large carp seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt and fennel and baked in the oven. Or why not try pasta with fish sauce? Taste all these typical, tasty dishes accompanied by one of the excellent local wines.

Find out what to see in Castiglione del Lago. 

If you want to visit the heart of Castiglione del Lago and wander around in places once trodden by important personalities of the calibre of Niccolò Machiavelli, you can’t miss Palazzo Ducale della Corgna, which was only one of the residences of the homonymous family. The refined 16th-century building boasts stunning rooms frescoed by artists such as Niccolò Circignani, known as Pomarancio, or Salvio Savini, his brilliant pupil. The frescoes depict the heroic deeds of the Marquis Ascanio della Corgna and his family, combining events that really happened in history with mythological episodes. One of the rooms of the building, the Sala di Cesare, leads you to a covered walkway taking you directly to another important site in Castiglione del Lago, the Fortezza Medievale (Medieval Fortress), also known as Rocca del Leone.

Owing to its strategic position, circular towers and characteristic robustness, it was considered one of the most difficult 16th-century European strongholds to conquer and its majestic beauty is still evident today. The Abbazia di San Cristoforo, also known as Badia San Cristoforo, is certainly worth a visit. A Benedictine church built around the year 1000, subsequently controlled by the Ordine dei Cavalieri di Malta (Order of the Knights of Malta), it was built in part on the remains of an ancient chapel. The hilly area on which the church stands will also enable you to admire a breath-taking view of Lake Trasimeno. In the historic centre, you can visit the Baroque Chiesa di San Domenico di Guzman, the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena and the Parco Regionale del Lago Trasimeno.

On the island of Polvese, you can instead visit the beautiful fortress of Rocca dell’Isola Polvese, the remains of the Abbazia di San Secondo, the Chiesa di San Giuliano and the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Cerqua.

If you are looking for Castiglione del Lago’s characteristic places, Palazzo Ducale della Corgna is mandatory.

It was built in 1563 by the will of Ascanio di Castiglioneafter he was appointed marquis – on a previous palace erected by the Baglioni family at the beginning of the XVI Century.

The della Corgna family initially conceived the palace as a secondary residence, a small mansion for leisure and holidays but – following certain events that caused the family to lose some properties – it became their main dwelling. There are conflicting evidences regarding the name of the architect:

Some sources believe the palace was designed by Vignola, while others ascribe the project to Alessi. The hypothesis of a collaboration is also on the table.

The floor plan has the shape of an upside-down “L” and had a south wing, where the various marquises in the family lived, and a west wing reserved to Cardinal Fulvio, brother of Ascanio. The place has four floors; at the bottom there were the cellars and the stables, the basement housed the kitchen and the food warehouse, while the bedrooms, halls, and audition rooms were on the first and second floor.

Between 1574 and 1590 Niccolò Circignani (known as the Pomarancio) and his painters frescoed eight rooms in the palace. The pieces depicted Ascanio’s heroic gestures, mythological scenes, historical events, all with beautiful and vivid colours.

The visit to the museum begins with the entrance room called Sala di Paride (the Room of Paris); on the vault we can admire the painting il Giudizio di Paride and other mythological figures inside the octagons. Here we also find a representation of the wedding of Diomede della Corgna and Porzia Colonna and some coats of arms. The following room celebrates the achievements of Ascanio, the brave forefather of the della Corgna family; his military and political exploits a depicted on 16 faux tapestries displayed on the walls of the room named after him. Another room depicts the  myth of Phaeton, the son of Apollo who – due to his inexperience – lost control of his father’s Sun Carriot causing many disasters, until Jupiter struck it with a lighting to stop him. The frescoes also portray the phases of the day, Dawn, Midday, Dusk, and Night and the four seasons.

In the Room of the Aeneid another myth is represented, the one of Aeneas, together with images celebrating the good work of marquis Diomede, adoptive son and nephew of Ascanio. This room is the result of the collaboration between Niccolò Circignani and Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi. In the Room of the Gods the most important image depicts Jupiter surrounded by the other gods of the Olympus and the zodiac signs. The Room of the Battle on Lake Trasimeno was the room of Ascanio II and it has some scenes from the battle of Tuoro in 217 BC between Hannibal and the Roman Army. In the old room of Laura della Corgna, sister of Ascanio, there is a painting of the myth of Proserpina; the Room of Pluto and Proserpina is a homage to Laura through the image of the fertility of the crater, as an appreciation for giving birth to Diomede, heir of the della Corgia dynasty. In the Room of Caesar we can admire a beautiful representation of the glorious life and tragic ending of the Roman Emperor. These frescoes were painted between 1589 and 1590 by Savini.

You cal also enjoy many more beautiful frescoes in the rest of the Palace, in the rooms that once were used to host events; they are Sala del Mondo alla Rovescia (the Room of the Upside-Down World), Sala delle Arti (Room of the arts), and Sala della Metamorfosi (the Metamorphosis Room) which are now part of the City Library.

From the Room of Caesar, we can stroll on the covered walkway built by the della Corgna family up to the Medieval Fortress.

Palazzo Ducale della Corgna is also famous for having hosted celebrities such as Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Artists and scholars of all sorts were regular guests under Diomede I, including the writer and poet Cesare Caporali who used to spend lots of time with the della Corgna family; his work The Gardens of Mecenate, celebrates the beauty of the residence and its magnificent gardens.

Palazzo Ducale della Corgna belongs to the City since 1870 and it was recently restored.

The Abbey of San Cristoforo, also known as Badia San Cristoforo, is a Benedictine church dating back to the yet 1000, raising on a land that originally was about 100 hectares large. The year of construction could not be precisely determined, but the first document attesting its existence dates back to 997 A.D. Moreover, a portion of the wall structure was realised in ashlar masonry, a technique used during that period.

Emperor Otto III donated the Castiglione del Lago territory to Ugo di Toscana, a marquis who founded the Abbey of San Gennaro of Campoleone. The emperors who ruled over the region at the time – including Fredrick I called Barbarossa (red beard) – renewed the donation of the land on which the church was built.  The Benedictine Monks reclaimed the surrounding territories and started growing crops. The civil and religious life of the village developed around the Villa of S. Cristoforo. in 1260 the church fell under the Sovereign Reign of Malta, as evidenced in a document by Pope Alexander IV. Fire-branded coat of arms depicting the symbol of the Order were found on some of the oak planks on a frame.

In 1694 the church of San Cristoforo was closed by Cavaliere Vagnucci, who wanted a trusted priest, don Luca de Fundactis, to celebrate religious services instead of don Francesco Caroccio, a priest appointed by the Bishop Muti. Although, later that year, the church was open to the public again.

The current aspect of the church is different from the original, since it was partially demolished and rebuilt in 1858, for mostly unknown reasons.

The fact that the current church is basically the same size as the previous one, dismisses the hypothesis that it was demolished to make room for a larger structure designed to greet a larger number of believers and adds even more mystery about the reason behind such decision. The building was originally composed of three apses – as evidenced by a floor plan found in 1969 – and was modified as a single-apse structure. Also the original trusses were replaced by vaults and in 1733 it was described as a church with five altars and various pieces of sacred furniture, completely overturning its original design. From the outside, the only visible original part of the church is on the left of the apse, on both sides of the sacristy. This portion was realised using the ruins of a temple built with large ashlars. On the left side of the parsonage we find the ruins of an old press and a small arched door. The bell tower was built in 1901 – 1902 and realised Giuseppe Capecchi and Oreste Ceccarelli.

Internally the church shows a rectangular plan with a sole nave; behind the altar, the semi-circular apse that replaced the original structure can be seen.

The travertine Presbytery is placed on a platform.

A marble tablet reading “1944-1948” commemorates the period when the church suffered relevant structural damages and lost some canvases as a consequence of the Second World War.

The Abbey of San Cristoforo is located on a hill offering a beautiful view point over Castiglione del Lago and Lake Trasimeno.

The Medieval Fortress, also known as Rocca del Leone or Rocca Medievale, is one of the most relevant monuments in Castiglione del Lago. For centuries this city wall represented the most important strategic point in the area. From here, it was possible to monitor the neighbouring territories of Trasimeno and Chiugi to counter external attacks.

Rocca del Leone was built by Fredrick II in 1247. Based on the ancient ruins on the wall, it is assumed that a former Etruscan Acropolis used to be there; it was destroyed and rebuilt by Friar Elia da Cortona, an important architect and personality of the time.

The fortress is shaped as an irregular pentagon with a tower at each corner. The fortified tower is triangular and 39 metres (128 feet) tall. There are also two round towers – built in the XV and XVI Century – that replaced the original ones to improve resistance against cannon attacks. The walls have Guelph-style battlements. Later, another section of wall stretching from the Palace to the fortified tower was built. Access to the palace was provided by wooden stairs which could be removed in case of attack.

This second portion of wall was erected to improve protection to the structure and the village, but unfortunately only a few ruins survived to this day.

Thanks to its layout and numerous improvements, the Rocca was considered one of the most impenetrable fortresses of XVI Century Europe. It was built to be part of the central defensive system which stretched out from Puglia to Northern Italy, crossing the whole peninsula.

The remains of a small pre-Christian church – erected in honour of Saint Philip and Saint Jack under Byzantine rule – were found inside the fortress. The church was later used as the fortress’ chapel.

The Rocca can only be accessed from the Palace of the della Corgna family, via a walkway built by the marquises in order to facilitate transfers in case of attack. The walkway was covered at the beginning of the XVII Century and equipped with defensive loopholes.

The reason why the fortress was called Rocca del Leone is uncertain; it is possible that its original name Castello del Leone (the Castle of the Lion, which was repeatedly destroyed throughout the centuries also by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV) later became the name of the village, Castillonem and finally Castiglione (del Lago).

At beginning of the XVI Century the fortress was owned by the Baglioni family, who expanded it, and later by the Della Corgna family, when the village became a Marquisate. In 1554 Ascanio I realised the beautiful Italian Gardens inside the walls, also praised by Cesare Caporali in his work The Gardens of MecenateAscanio I falso built the Doge’s Palace inside the fortress.

After the death of the last member of the della Corgna family, Fulvio II, in 1647, the poperty was administered by the Apostolic Camera. It was municipalised in 1860.

Currently the Medieval Fortress of Castiglione del Lago is used as an amphitheatres and is almost entirely visitable.

Find out what do in Castiglione del Lago.

It is certainly not easy to get bored in Castiglione del Lago, given the multifaceted nature of its territory. Here you can discover its most unspoilt natural environments and relax outdoors, in the midst of lush greenery. Take the opportunity to enjoy some horseback or trekking excursions, cycling or mountain biking, following paths of varying difficulty? Why not try some beach volleyball or tennis or, if you prefer, you can do some freer horse riding? Or motocross or clay pigeon shooting?

If, on the other hand, you are more of a water sports enthusiast and you want to see the beauty of Lake Trasimeno up close, you can enjoy an excursion on a sailing boat, rowing boat or dinghy, which you can experience either alone or with your family and friends. Or opt for some adrenaline-pumping thrills by gliding over the water and being pulled by a kitesurf, on board a kayak, experimenting with windsurfing, or simply go swimming or canoeing.

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