You won’t find pictures of George Clooney’s perfect smirk on the walls of restaurants in Lago Trasimeno, as you will nearly everywhere in Lake Como, but Umbria’s graceful lake has a cool beauty that is uniquely Italian. As will all towns in Umbria, you’ll want to leave the stilettos behind in favor of more comfortable shoes to scale the hills of this central region, but the sacrifice in style is well worth it. This is not the see-and-be-seen suave of Milan or Rome; Umbria has an airy serenity combined with the earthy pleasures of rustic food and fresh air.
Your Weekend Duchess visited this town in November and found it absolutely wonderful, but be warned that the buses from the train station into town do not operate outside of the summer months. Again, Cinderella’s glass slippers had been replaced with the clunky but cloudlike Skecher’s ShapeUps, so I was prepared for the walk. I won’t deny that I was a little crabby at passing empty bus stops every few feet during the mile or so into town, but the stroll gave me the chance to become acquainted with many of the local cats.
Who comes to a beach town in late fall/early winter? Not too many people, as it turns out, but if your mission is not social but more romantic or introspective, I’d highly recommend the trip. The lake itself is at ground level, of course, and there were still several sailboats and other daring creatures out in the chilly water, but the little town on the hill above provided an extra adventure.
Trasimeno is known, even among Umbrians, for its rich food, so your Duchess found a restaurant and tucked in to some gnocchi, fish, and of course a glass or two of Montefalco rosso. I was the only non-native in the tiny restaurant, which was packed with locals enjoying a decadent Sunday meal. Happily full and rosy-cheeked, I bumbled out of the little town and back down to the lake.
After walking by the water for awhile, I decided to head up to the local castle. The path took me through an olive grove, and you never feel quite as Italian as you do after a bit of wine, trudging through an olive grove heading up to a castle. The silvery green of the plants made an undeniably aristocratic counterpart to the glassy blue of the lake and sky, and the silence was unmarred by motorinos or Smart Cars. Your Duchess felt quite at home.
I would highly recommend the walk around the upper edges of the castle and the brief tour of the museum inside, even though at one point I thought I might be trapped in there forever. It doesn’t spoil the plot to say that I eventually found the exit (maybe one less glass of wine? nah!) and made my way back through town to the station. Followed as always in these towns by a refined feline, I ended my weekend in Trasimeno and made my way back to Perugia. One could easily spend a week enjoying the simple pleasures of this serene scenery in the off-season, and I certainly hope to find my way back again someday.6 comments