Drive to Lake Trasimeno, Perugia, & Assisi

Enjoy your day exploring some of the most beautiful medieval towns in Umbria, perched on hills with panoramic landscape views. Thanks to its position right in the country's center, this region is known as Italy's “green heart” crossed by the Apennines Mountains. You’ll have the chance to visit Lake Trasimeno, discover the small town of Assisi, explore Perugia, and taste local wines dating back to the Roman-Etruscan times more than 3000 years ago. The region is home to some of the most authentic wine estates in Italy!

All the towns of Umbria are relatively small yet home to world-class museums and remains of Roman Umbria, which you can’t find in neighboring Tuscany. The Renaissance was undoubtedly born in Tuscany, but it flowered equally in Umbria, where every town, even when its character was essentially medieval, is the home of wonderful Renaissance architecture. And, like every region of Italy, Umbria has its own cuisine and specialties, Norcia being the most famous for its cured meats.

The region of Umbria is a top destination for those who love medieval history, with small stone villages perched on hills, rural churches, and majestic fortresses overlooking wild nature where olive trees and vineyards rule. Moreover, Umbria is where invaluable historical and art remain untouched.

Visit Lake Trasimeno: This area is full of castles and sites like Palazzo della Corgna, la Rocca del Leone, Torre di San Savino, la Rocca Bagliona, i Ruderi del Castello di Zocco, and the village of Monte del Lago. Take a tour of the lake, stopping at several villages in the surrounding hills like Paciano, Panicale, and Città della Pieve en Chiusi. Or, stop at one of these special spots on the lake’s shores:
  • Castiglione del Lago is surrounded by ancient walls defending the castle atop a rock overlooking Lake Trasimeno. The view from this antique castle, the Castello Rocca del Leone (the old fortification initially built in 1247 CE), is breathtaking. Around the castle is a pleasant lakeside park where restaurants and gelaterias open during the summer. There are a few bars, shops, and restaurants in the center open all year. Il Palazzo della Corgna is a typical example of the Italian Renaissance with beautiful frescoes. Every year in April, there's the Festa del Tulipano.

  • Passignano sul Trasimeno dates back to medieval times, and you can still see the remains of its castle overlooking the lake. An important event that takes place every year at the end of July is the Palio delle Barche. On the last day, there's a boat race and a historical parade. During the whole week, you can enjoy festivities.

  • Tuoro sul Trasimeno is known for the bloody battle that Hannibal won against the Romans in 217 BCE. You can walk in the area and learn about this battle from the signs along the road. Tuoro has a nice little beach along the lake where you can rent a canoe or a paddleboat.

  • Islands: Isola Maggiore is the only island in the lake that is still inhabited. In 1212 CE, Saint Francis from Assisi stayed on the island during Lent. Legend has it that you can still see his footprints in the stones where he came to land, as well as the stone he used as a pillow while resting. Isola Minore and Isola Polvese are also the largest islands on the lake that make up a nature reserve.
Before or after visiting the lake, you can stop at some beautiful wineries on your way. A few options include:
  • Villa Loggio is an upscale winery great for kids and families. It's located in the middle of an ancient wine estate in southern Tuscany, in the municipality of Cortona and not far from Montepulciano. The estate produces fresh floral whites, rosé, Vin Santo, and robust red wines.
  • Cantina Berioli has great reviews, a more intimate atmosphere and has operated in Montesperello since the beginning of the 20th century. It's located on the green hills around Lake Trasimeno and features restored antique rooms, where the wine rests in French oak Barriques and Tonneaux. The care and passion that binds the Berioli family to their land have led the company to convert its vineyards to organic cultivation.
Visit Assisi: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the birthplace of Saint Francis and Saint Clare and has become a world-renowned pilgrimage destination. In Assisi, you'll find traces of its Roman past and many buildings dating back to medieval times. The nature reserve in the mountains behind the town makes for the perfect backdrop. A few places worth a visit include: 
  • The Basilica di San Francesco is the first church dedicated to Saint Francis and built on his tomb. There are two churches, the lower church and the upper church. The lower church leads to the crypt of Saint Francis, its walls featuring frescoes about the life of the Saint and the Agony of Christ. In the upper church, you can admire beautiful frescoes of Giotto depicting stories from the bible and the life of Saint Francis.
  • The Church of Saint Clara dated to the 13th century and was built in Gothic style. In this church, you'll find the tomb of Saint Clara and some of her few possessions. 
  • Rocca Maggiore is a fortress built in the 14th century. Climb to its top to reward yourself with superb views over the surrounding area.
  • Piazza del Comune used to be a Roman forum with a Minerva temple, but it later transitioned into a church.
Visit Perugia: This picturesque medieval Umbrian city has a history that spans many eras with little change in more than 400 years. Even though it's located on a hill, several escalators link the upper and lower reaches.

The city has over 5 miles (9 km) of defensive walls dating from different eras. In the center proudly stands the La Fontana Maggiore (its three levels represent stories from the Bible), one of the most intriguing fountains in Italy. On the same square is the Cathedral of Perugia, and nearby is the Pozzo Etrusco (Etruscan well), plus many other sights to see. Don't forget the Rocca Paolina, where you can stroll through the antique streets that Pope Paolo III once ordered to destroy, building his own fortress on top. A late afternoon stroll over the Corso Cavour and the Corso Vanucci is surely worth your time.

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