Considered one of the most beautiful of Umbria’s ‘terraces’, Panicale overlooks Lake Trasimeno on one side and the wide valley of the River Nestore on the other. Already known as a military defence in 907, it became the first free Italian town in 1037, and for centuries has hosted cardinals, kings, emperors and popes – from Innocent III to Paul III. It has preserved its walls, towers and turrets, the Perugina Gate and the Fiorentina Gate, which still has the tower of the old drawbridge. In the 14th century, Panicale was the hometown of the painter Tommasino Fini, known as Masolino of Panicale (1383 -1447), and the mercenary leader, Boldrino of Panicale.
Things to see: The church of S. Sebastian (14th -15th cent.), which contains two frescoes by Perugino: The Martyrdom of S. Sebastian and The Madonna in Glory, and the fountain from 1437, which was the town’s ancient cistern. The church of S. Michele Arcangelo (10th - 11th cent.), which holds an Annunciation fresco in the apse, attributed to Tommasino Fini, aka Masolino. The Cesare Caporali Theatre, one of Umbria’s smallest theatres, built between the 17th and 18th century and rebuilt by the architect Caproni in 1858. The Tulle Museum in the former church of S. Agostino, (14th -15th cent.). The remains of frescoes attributed to the school of Perugino form the backdrop to the many hand embroidered items, typical examples of Ars panicalensis.
Places to visit near Panicale: Well worthwhile is a visit to Panicarola, where a Proto-Villanovan necropolis was discovered. Also the sanctuary of the Madonna della Carraia (1686) and the shrine of the Madonna del Busso. On the road from Panicale to the lake are the medieval Montaler Castle and the village of Sant’Arcangelo with its nuclei of very small, ancient houses, recently restored, and the 11th-century church of S. Michele Arcangelo. Along the state road is the church of S. Maria di Ancelle with many frescoes from the late 13th century. At a short distance is the village of Agello, and, nearby, Colle San Paolo, a small medieval fortress. A few kilometres from Panicale in the direction of Città della Pieve is Tavernelle, where an interesting visit can be made to the shrine of the Madonna of Mongiovino, built in 1524 in the form of a Greek cross by Rocco da Vicenza on the site of an earlier chapel that contained a ‘miraculous’ image of the Madonna. Inside is a large chapel and four corner chapels, rich in frescoes and other decorations. On the hill overlooking the shrine is the castle of Mongiovino Vecchio with a beautiful view towards Lake Trasimeno. Located near Tavernelle is the 15th-century shrine of Our Lady of Grondaci, built to protect a miraculous aedicule dedicated to the Madonna. Inside is a painting by Gregorio Gregori of the Virgin Enthroned with SS. Sebastiano and Rocco. The Via Pievaiola from Tavernelle passes alongside the River Nestore as far as Piegaro.
Typical local food: DOP olive oil and DOC wines. Typical of this area are cakes made with chestnuts and honey.
Local crafts: Typical of the area are wrought ironwork and hand embroidery on tulle; the latter has an international reputation and follows the ancient technique of the Ars Panicalensis, a true art of embroidery that produces masterpieces of variety and creativity.