Great Things to Do Near La Tranquillità
Elegant and infused with history, architecture and art, Perugia is a very well preserved medieval hill town with amazing views from various places as well as being very much a modern city with lots to see and do throughout the year. Corso Vanucci, the main street in the old town, is lined with shops and restaurants and leads to the grand Piazza IV Novembre, which is surrounded by the splendid Palazzo dei Priori and the San Lorenzo Cathedral.
The kids will enjoy making a splash in the various pools and slides at the Aquapark Azzurra Piscine at Tavernelle near Lake Trasimeno. Open from June to 1st September. www.tavernelle.azzurrapiscine.it
Paintings by Perugino & Raphael
The Chiesa di S Sebastiano, in Panicale, has a famous fresco of Saint Sebastian by the Umbrian artist Perugino. There is also a painting thought to be by Raphael. Perugino used the Trasimeno & Umbrian landscape as the typical background to his paintings. There are more of his works in Citta della Pieve.
Take a boat trip from Castiglione
on the lakeside to Isola Maggiore, one of the islands. There is a tiny fishing village and the people who live here specialise in making Irish lace! The technique was introduced in 1904 by the Marchesa Elena Guglielmi (whose home was on the island), when she imported an Irish housekeeper to the island.
If you love jazz, visit Perugia in July
for its world famous Umbrian Jazz Festival. Performers come from all over the world, and concerts take place day and night.
Calling all chocoholics!
Perugia hosts an annual Chocolate Festival in October! But even at other times of year, the city welcomes chocolate lovers... make sure you try the famous ‘Baci’ chocolates made by local firm, Perugina. Baci means ‘kisses’ and the chocolates are wrapped in silver foil containing a multilingual love note! You can also visit the firm’s premises, the Casa del Cioccolato, comprising a museum and the factory itself.
A day at the lake
Lake beaches, kayaking, sailing and motor boat hire are all available at Lake Trasimeno. There is also a bicycle trail all the way around the lake.
A round of golf
Keen golfers will be pleased to discover there is a 9-hole course nearby at Panicale, and an 18-hole course at Perugia.
‘La Valle Natural Oasis’, near San Savino di Magione, on the eastern edge of Lake Trasimeno is a managed bird reserve with walkways and hides from which you might spy species including grebes, bitterns, coots, ducks, herons and warblers, maybe even a bird of prey.
Tennis and horse riding
can both be practiced near to this property.
Wine tasting in Montepulciano
Montepulciano (45 mins) is home to the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano wines. Situated under the Palazzo Tarugi and Palazzo Sinatti (two of the oldest buildings in the town) is the Talosa Cellar. Take a tour of these 16th century cellars which include an Etruscan tomb and then enjoy tasting these renowned wines or try the Cantina Contucci just off the Piazza Grande, where you can view how the city's jail was converted into a wine cellar.
A great family day out
The Città della Domenica is an animal and amusement park occupying 100 acres on a hillside overlooking Perugia. There is plenty of parkland to roam, or to view from the comfort of the little train. Animals include kangaroos, ostriches, llamas, donkeys and many birds. In the farm area, children can get hands on and help to milk the cows! There are also themed areas such as Pinocchio’s Village and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, a Medieval zone, a space shuttle and the Wild West. A programme of activities and shows runs each day. Other attractions include mini-karts, mini-boats, slides, a maze and inflatable play area.
Assisi, home town of St Francis
A beautiful pink-hued town which is famous for being the birthplace of St. Francis, the patron saint of Italy, of animals and of peace. The first thing you will see as you approach the town is the huge and imposing Basilica of San Francesco. You will also come across yet more stunning churches and palazzi in the town. Assisi is worth visiting either early in the day or late afternoon.
Visit the villages and towns surrounding Lake Trasimeno
The villages and towns surrounding the lake all possess their own character and delights. Castiglione del Lago is the main town of the area, dating back to Etruscan times and classed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Built on a small peninsula on the western shore, the old town is still completely surrounded by the original walls. The Palazzo della Corgna is a beautiful building, now the town hall, with a vast fresco inside. Linked to the Palazzo by a covered walkway, the Rocca del Leone fortress is a fine example of medieval military architecture, and in the 1500s it was considered to be one of the most difficult European castles to take by storm!
The superb 'Museo dell Accademia Etrusca' in Cortona traces the Etruscan past of this area; the Galleria Nazionale Umbria in Perugia has one of the great picture collections in central Italy (especially 14th to 17th century); and the Sansepolcro 'Museo Civico' proudly houses Piero della Francesca’s famous pieces: ‘Resurrection’ and ‘The Madonna of the Misericordia’.
The hilltop town of Cortona
is lovely to wander around and although it can get quite busy, it is definitely worth a visit – steep cobbled streets lined with art galleries, boutiques, cafés and gelaterie (ice cream shops). For far-reaching views, head up the hill to the Fortezza Medicea, which was built for the Medicis. On the way back down, seek out the Vicolo Jannelli, a little street with some of the oldest surviving houses in Italy.
Head south to Orvieto
Orvieto's towering black and white striped Gothic cathedral dominates the town, and was built to house the Holy Cloth taken by the local bishop from nearby Bolsena commemorating the Miracle, or Transubstantiation, of Bolsena and thus the Festival of Corpus Domini. Signorelli's majestic treatment of the 'Last Judgement' should not be missed in the Brizio Chapel, and the little museum next door has some very good Etruscan finds (for Orvieto was an Etruscan confederational settlement).