Castiglione, also known as Castiglione del Lago, is the main town on the western shore of Lago Trasimeno, Umbria’s largest lake, and the fourth largest lake in all of Italy. Castiglione sits up on a limestone fortified promontory and is a lovely place to visit on a day trip from Perugia. Castiglione has evolved on what used to be an island, the fourth island of Lake Trasimeno, in its south west region. Over the centuries as the town grew and became more populated, the gap between the island and the shore was filled with houses, churches and other buildings. The newer part of the city is a fair distance from the older historical center of Castiglione del Lago, and the older center is a fairly well preserved medieval locality that seems to be governed by a “law of threes”. In the town walls there are three gates, and inside the town there are three piazze and three churches.
How to arrive in Castiglione – It’s best to arrive by car, although trains do run from Chiusi or Terontola.
Important things to see in Castiglione – Although evidence can be found in the town of both Etruscan and Roman origins, it really isn’t known for it’s architecture apart from the 6th century castle or Rocca del Leone. A ticket into the castle also affords you a visit into the ducal Palazzo della Corgna in Piazza Gramsci whose large ceilinged rooms are covered in frescoes of classical images. There is also the opportunity to buy a “Museo Aperto” ticket which covers the entry into the castle and palazzo, as well as sites in both Panicale and Citta della Pieve.
The Castello del Leone (“Fortress of the Lion”) was built by Emperor Frederick II during his reign over Castiglione during the 13th century. The castle features square towers in four of its corners and a triangular shaped bastion, or donjon, known as the Mastio in the other. The castle was designed to give its owners strategic control over all of Lake Trasimeno. The castle has withstood a number of sieges over the subsequent centuries.
The Palazzo del Corgna, or Town Hall, was built by Ascanio della Corgna in Renaissance style incorporating what once was a hunting lodge, and was designed by the architect Vignola. It is now a civic museum and gallery. The palazzo has by a long, covered corridor connecting to the castle.
The only other building of particular interest is the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena that you come upon if you enter through the 19th century Porta Senese. The church has a neo-classical pronaos, anoutside portico dating from 1867, and inside, a panel painted in 1580 by Eusebio da San Giorgio.
One can also take the ferry to Isola Maggiore, one of the three small islands in Lago Trasimeno with less than 100 permanent residents who live in homes dating back the 15th century. Largely known as a fishing village, the older women sit along the main street and make lace which they sell to visiting tourists.
Other larger towns worth a visit on Lago Trasimeno include Passignano sul Trasimeno and Magione.