Monday, October 5, 2015

September in UMBRIA, ITALY, Part 2: Lake Trasimeno and Isola Polvese

View from Isola Polvese across Lake Trasimeno
Lake Trasimeno, located in the northwest corner of Umbria, is the fourth largest lake in Italy and about an hour’s drive from Perugia. It was the site of Hannibal’s defeat of the Romans on 21 June 217 B.C. and has long been an important place in Italy’s history. The lake is surrounded by low hills dotted with medieval fortified towns and castles. In the middle are three islands: Isola Maggiore and Isola Polvese (both accessible by ferry), and Isola Minore (privately owned). We decided to spend a day exploring Isola Polvese, the largest of the islands.
Ferry to Isola Polvese
We drove from Perugia to the town of Magione and from there followed signs to the small lakeside village of San Feliciano where we caught the ferry to Isola Polvese. It was midweek and we were among just a few passengers for the ten minute ride to the island. Most of the island is a nature preserve. There are no cars on the island, although one can rent bikes. Near the ferry landing is a cluster of buildings with a restaurant and small souvenir shop and a few meeting rooms, but except for a youth hostel in the middle of the island, the island has few other buildings except for some ancient ruins in various states of disrepair.
Flowers were abundant along the coastal path
A path at lake level circles the island, while another path goes up and across the center. To begin with, we decided to turn left toward the castle ruins and go clockwise around the island. It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for a walk. Lake Trasimeno is extemely shallow and most of the island is surrounded by reed beds, an ideal habitat for waterbirds such as ducks and herons, which we saw stalking prey and flying up from the water. Much of the path was shaded by large oak trees and in many places the ground was carpeted with patches of bright pink flowers. In the sunny spots, lizards scampered among the stones.
Lizard
It took us an hour or so to circle the island as we stopped to take pictures or admire the view. Then, after a cup of coffee at the snack bar, we followed the sunnier path across the top of the island through olive orchards to the ruins of San Secondo church and monastery, currently in the process of being restored.
Path to the church and monastery of San Secondo
 We returned to the dock in time to catch the 3:45 ferry. (Ferries ran about once an hour.) It had been a peaceful and relaxing day in the out-of-doors.
Ferry landing, Isola Polvese

The following day our plan was to drive to Assisi, home of St. Francis, Italy's patron saint. (To be continued next week.)