Overlooking the famous Lake Trasimeno is one of the most stunning towns in Umbria Italy! Castiglione del Lago has been entertaining travelers for centuries with its historic charm, delicious food, and gorgeous views. We had honestly never heard of this legendary village before our visit. Luckily, we got a local recommendation and we are so glad we went! Here are some fun facts about Castiglione del Lago, things to do, and why it’s one of the best places to go in this region of Italy.
How to Get to Castiglione del Lago Italy
Bus: There are local buses that run routes around Tuscany, Umbria, and even from the major cities of Florence and Rome. Just be aware that most of them aren’t direct. This means you’ll probably have to switch buses more than once to get to Castiglione del Lago Italy.
Rental Car: Driving yourself is the easiest way to get Lake Trasimeno and the surrounding towns. We recommend renting a car from the airport of the city you fly into and including this as a stop on a longer Italy itinerary. If not, you’ll want to rent a car from one of the larger Tuscany towns or cities as many of the smaller villages do not have rental offices.
Hop on Hop Off: A unique way to get to Castiglione del Lago is taking the tourist hop on hop off bus! For just 12 Euros it will take you around to multiple towns in Tuscany and Umbria with a stop in Castiglione del Lago. This is how we got there recently and had almost 4 hours to explore before heading to Cortona afterward.
9 Fun Facts About Castiglione del Lago Italy
1. The Green Heart of Italy
Umbria is known as the “Green Heart of Italy,” and once you visit Castiglione del Lago it will be easy to see why! Surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, olive trees, and vineyards as far as the eye can see, you will be blown away by the nature of this region.
From Castiglione del Lago Italy there is a walk around the lake, hiking trails, or you can simply take in the views from the town walls. Between all the historic medieval villages and Tuscan villas, you will find endless green scenery to enjoy.
2. Story of Lake Trasimeno
Also contributing to the vibrant nature of Umbria is the largest lake in Southern and Central Italy! Some of the best views of the lake are from above in Castiglione del Lago and there is a direct path that goes down to the water. Although it may be nice to look at, Lake Trasimeno Italy has a tumultuous history.
Most notably it was the site of a bloody battle between Hannibal of Carthage and the Roman army in 217 BC. This was known as one of the greatest ambushes in history and over 15,000 Roman soldiers reportedly died.
Nonetheless, the lake actually gets its name from an old Italian legend! Prince Trasimeno was the son of the god Tirreno and is the central figure of the story. One hot day he decides to take a bath in the lake and is seduced by the singing of a beautiful nymph named Agilla.
Unfortunately, on his way out to the center of the lake, the young prince drowns! Lake Trasimeno was named thereafter. Even today it’s said you can still hear Agilla’s sad singing as she searches endlessly for her prince.
3. Etruscans Castiglione del Lago
By now you can probably tell Castiglione del Lago is full of amazing history! Believe it or not, this area has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. The period dominated by the Etruscans is particularly interesting as they chose it as their main settlement in 6th century BC. Yes, that’s over 2,600 years ago!
The Etruscan civilization flourished between the 8th and 3rd centuries BC in the valleys of what is today known as Tuscany. In fact, three of the major Etruscan cities of Perugia, Chiusi, and Cortona are all just a short distance from here.
Much of their culture and traditions were taken by the Romans after they conquered the region. Little evidence remains of the Etruscan presence here outside of small tombs and ceramics. Still, the fertile lands surrounding Castiglione del Lago, Lake Trasimeno, and Po & Tiber rivers, made the area the perfect headquarters for this time period!
4. Movies Inside a 12th Century Castle
Even though very little evidence remains of the Etruscan society, there are other historical sites to experience in Castiglione del Lago Italy! The main one to see is the Lion Fortress (Rocca del Leone) and its imposing tower that sits high above the town.
Construction on the fortress began in the 12th century by Emporer Frederick II of Swabia as he sought to expand the defense of his empire across Italy. Construction works and additions would continue into the 1500’s and it became known as one of the most difficult castles to conquer in the region.
The Lion Fortress is free to enter and when we did we couldn’t believe what we saw inside! In the summer there is an outdoor movie theatre set up inside the walls. Can you imagine watching the newest blockbuster hit inside a 12th century castle?? So cool!
5. Food in Castiglione del Lago
Up and down the main street in town, you will find a great selection of restaurants and cafes serving traditional Tuscan meals. Here you can try local fish from Lake Trasimeno and meat favorites like wild boar and lamb. The seafood is very special to try, as residents have been fishing these waters for centuries!
If for some reason you don’t come to Castiglione del Lago Italy hungry, it will be just as easy to grab a drink at one of the many cafes or bars. We loved having a cappuccino in the main square and even went back later in the afternoon for an ice-cold beer.
Make sure to grab a gelato which is perfect on a hot summer day as you explore town! Below are a few restaurants and cafes to check out on your visit to Castiglione del Lago.
- Ristorante L’ Acquario
- L’Angolo del Buongustaio
- Caffe Latino
- Ristorante La Badiaccia
6. First Flight Over Lake Trasimeno Italy
You may know the story of Danti, the man credited with some of the first experiments in flight. In 1498, he took a fateful jump off Piazza Grande in Perugia and broke his leg in front of many shocked onlookers. What you maybe did not know is that his first flight was actually from Isola Maggiore out over the waters of Lake Trasimeno Italy!
Another interesting and more famous man also obsessed with flight was Leanardo Da Vinci. In fact, the two even met in Castiglione del Lago to discuss their inventions! The famous artist would also go on to design revolutionary hydraulic machines and excavation tools that would connect the major rivers of Tuscany. So next time you think of the Wright Brothers or see modern airplanes, you’ll know it all started on Lake Trasimeno!
7. Islands of Lake Trasimeno
We mentioned historic Isola Maggiore above, so you should know it is one of three islands on Lake Trasimeno Italy. You can visit two of them by ferry with Maggiore being the most popular and easiest to reach from Castiglione del Lago.
The history of Isola Maggiore is mind-blowing with its churches and lace-making still being practiced today. It’s also the only island on Lake Trasimeno that’s inhabited year round with a tiny village you can explore.
Polvese is the largest island and closest to San Feliciano on the east side of the lake. This is a great place to do some bird watching and experience the local wildlife. The tiny Minore Island is actually private and the only one of three that can’t be visited. If you don’t make it to the islands, we recommend taking in nature by biking around the beautiful lake.
8. Palace of Castiglione Del Largo Italy
Sitting in a large square near the entrance to the castle is the 16th century Palazzo della Corgna. It was built in 1563 by the Della Corgna family as an extension of the former Baglioni palace.
For a small entrance fee, you can go inside and see colorful murals and ceiling art from hundreds of years ago. The paintings tell the deep history of the region, along with legendary myths of their time. These include the remarkable Room of Paris, Hall of the Deeds of Ascanio, Hall of the Gods, and even art depicting the Battle of Trasimeno.
This is one of the best things to do in Castiglione del Lago and a can’t-miss activity for history lovers. There is also a square in front of the palace with stunning views of Lake Trasimeno and the Umbria hillside.
9. Other Towns Around Lake Trasimeno
Looking out across Lake Trasimeno Italy, you will see many more incredible villages to explore. The great part is if you’re staying in the area you can easily get to all of them with a car. However, you may want to allow for multiple days! The towns look small but we can assure you once you start walking the streets of places like Cortona you will be overwhelmed!
From the front of Castiglione del Lago, you can even see the “Road to Montepulciano” that takes you to another famous medieval town. We used Montepulciano as our home base to see so many amazing places in Tuscany.
There aren’t many places to stay in the center of Castiglione del Lago as it is small. Still, we have included a select few at the bottom of this post. Also, check out more of the great cities and villages nearby we have listed below.
- San Feliciano
- Passignano sul Trasimeno
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Castiglione del Lago Italy? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay in Castiglione del Lago Italy
Ultra Luxury – Hotel Boutique Castiglione del Lago – Beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of town. Great place to base yourself from to enjoy the outdoor activities of Lake Trasimeno.
Highly Rated – Hotel La Torre – Located in Castiglione del Lago between two ancient churches, you will love the local vibe of Hotel la Torre. Enjoy spacious rooms and a delicious breakfast every morning.
Bed & Breakfast – Il Torrione – Wonderful location with terrace views of Lake Trasimeno Italy. Il Torrione is right in the center of all the action and close to many great restaurants.
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Italy Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Italian road trip!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.