Built on a limestone cliff, Castiglione del Lago is a ‘castle town’ of medieval and noble palaces, is the main centre of the Trasimeno area. Originally an ancient Etruscan, and later, Roman settlement, for the Tuscia Lombards in the 7th century, the town became an important defensive border against Byzantine Perugia. In 1550, Pope Julius III gave the town to his sister, Jacomaed, and his nephews Ascanio and Fulvio Corgna, who reigned until 1647 as the Dukes of Castiglione del Lago. Today it is designated one of the ‘most beautiful towns of Italy’.
Things to see: The 16th-century Corgna Ducal Palace, executed to a design by Galeazzo Alessi, a notable architect from Perugia. Built from limestone and brick, the building has richly decorated interiors. In addition to the frescoes of the main hall, celebrating the heraldic arms of Ascanio della Corgna, is the fine mannerist cycle of frescoes by Niccolò Circignani, known as ‘il Pomarancio’. The Rocca del Leone fortress (1247), connected by a covered walkway to the Palazzo Ducale, is one of the most important examples of Umbrian military architecture, built at a time when the city was conquered by Frederick II of Swabia. The building, shaped like a pentagon with four corner towers, is located on a limestone outcrop that dominates the Trasimeno area. Inside is a small amphitheatre where numerous shows are held in summer. The neo-classical church of S. Maria Maddalena was built between 1836 and 1860. It contains a Madonna Enthroned altarpiece from 1500, attributed to Eusebio da San Giorgio (a pupil of Perugino), plasterworks by Piervittori and a Madonna del Latte by the 14th-century Sienese school. The church of S. Domenico di Guzman has a characteristic coffered wooden ceiling, and an ambulatory where the tomb of the poet Cesare Caporali is located. The church was built in 1683, after a miracle of healing occurred.
Places to see near Castiglione del Lago: The unfinished Palazzo Moretti In Pozzuolo village is an interesting example of baroque architecture. Not far from Castiglion Del Lago are the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built by the Della Corgna family, Palazzo Dini, the church of San Lorenzo and the church of S. Lucia. Also worth visiting are the nearby villages of Vaiano and Villastrada.
Typical local food: The area is renowned for its Colli del Trasimeno DOC wine and olive oil DOP. Among the dishes based on fish, try Tagiolini di Brodo di Luccio (tagliolini pasta in pike broth, risotto with tench, or rice with fish sauce. Among the typical main course meat dishes are roast goose and duck. The Fagiolina di Trasimeno (cowpea) is a famous and delicious small legume, rediscovered in recent years.
Local crafts: The area produces handmade items in clay, iron, copper and wood, as well as lace and fishing equipment.