Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lake Trasimeno - Umbria

Our son Andrew whom had stayed with us in Rome and then a few days in Tuscany would leave for Moscow mid-week so we decided to take a drive to Chiusi to book train tickets to Florence and then on to Lake Trasimeno in Umbria. Chiusi is close to the borders of Tuscany and Umbria.

Chiusi to our eye was pretty much a modern town however back in 7th and 6th centuries BC it was a powerful Etruscan empire. I wish we had known more as we would not have treated it as just another town. We did have an interesting experience there but that will be explained in a week or two.

I’d read about Lake Trasimeno and the battle of Hannibal with the Romans beforehand and I was intrigued enough to want to visit the area. In our travels, the DK Eyewitness Travel books have been our guides and reliable travel companions. This is an excerpt from our own very ragged copy.

The Battle of Lake Trasimeno
“In 217 BC the Romans suffered one their worst ever military defeats on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. The Carthaginian general, Hannibal lured the Romans into a masterful ambush.”
The Romans suffered 16,000 losses to Hannibal’s 1500.

Sue talks to her brother in Australia
 "John, I'm really here - Where Hannibal defeated the Romans on the shores of Lake Trasimeno in Umbria."
We arrived about midday and Sue rang her brother in Australia to explained where we were. Imagine overlooking this huge lake where more than 2200 years ago, this great battle was fought.

Rocca del Leone (The Lion Fortress) completed in 1247
Andrew enjoys the surroundings of the ruins.

We were fortunate to have the place, almost to ourselves.
 Not far away on a small peninsula jutting into the lake is a medieval fortress at Castiglione del Lago. Although in ruins, the fortress was beautifully kept. I believe concerts are held within the walls during the warmer months. We lingered for an hour or so before returning to our home base of Monticchiello.

Sue enjoyed the Kitchen of Barbara’s lovely villa and almost each night we would enjoy a home cooked meal, washed down with the local Tuscan wines. This particular meal that night started with a porcini bruschetta with lots of garlic and a little Vino Santo. Sue had bought the porcini mushrooms from a roadside seller on our way back through Chiusi. That night’s meal was a casual affair with the previous night’s leftovers with a Tuscan bean mix.
The real life experience though was after dinner when we went for a walk in the village and discovered a small bar. I’m sure it was only known to the local old men of the village as there was no women which at first made Sue a little uneasy. She wrote in the diary
After dinner, Leon discovered a tiny bar, just a lighted doorway – He asked for permission to come in and we were greeted by eight or more old guys playing cards. No English spoken here, bit of a shock for a “Momma” like me.

There on the TV was the Italian version of “Deal or No Deal”. Coffee all round and the odd shot of Limoncello and we had discovered several new friends. I found myself in an animated discussion with one of the elderly gentlemen who ran an Agristuromo on the strada to Pienza. Meanwhile a woman had one 125,000 euro on deal or no deal and we all clapped and laughed with another round of Limoncello.

Sure, the great monuments and scenes are why you travel but the magic moments are ones like these.


  1. The more I read of your Italian posts the more I want to visit! Diane

  2. The more I write about them, the more I want to return. The same will happen when we start writing about France again - the stories should continue to when we are back in 2012.

  3. Our experience is that these moments spent with the 'locals', sharing their daily life for an hour or so, is often the best part of the day when traveling abroad.

  4. Ladybird,
    How true - these are memories to cherish.


Love to get feedback so no reason to be shy - have your say.