Since I have been living in Umbria, I always wanted to visit one of the islands on the Trasimeno Lake. There are three islands: Isola Polvese, Isola Maggiore and Isola Minore. Between the mainland and the islands there are regular connections by the Trasimeno Navigation Service. The ferry timetable can be downloaded from the website of Umbria Mobilità (only in Italian).
The largest island on the lake is Isola Polvese. This is mainly a nature reserve and is a good place for a quiet walk around or just to chill at the beach. The Isola Minore cannot be visited, it is a private island. Isola Maggiore is the second largest island of the three and the only island with a handful of permanent inhabitants.
Friends of mine were on holiday in Umbria, and I loved visiting the Isola Maggiore with them. On a sunny morning we took the ferry boat from Castiglione del Lago to Isola Maggiore. Very good idea!
Isola Maggiore is a fishing island on the lake. Here you can eat the typical “queen” carp! But also other typical fish dishes, like tench and pike. A good restaurant to taste the fish from the lake is Ristorante L’Oso. The owner goes out fishing himself and they have a lovely terrace out in the garden overlooking the lake.
For a quick bite there is a small bar, a kiosk at the entrance of the small village but also “All’antico Orologio” is a good place for a quick stop.
As we arrived, we walked through the main street uphill. Isola Maggiore is a village with houses dating back to the 14th and 16th century. On the top of the hill stands the church San Michele Arcangelo. It is a church from the 12th century and has fine Umbrian school paintings.
The islanders are specialized in making Irish lace. There is an Irish lace museum and there are opportunities to buy things too. The Irish lace dates back to around 1900 when a Roman senator built a castle for his wife on the island, which at the moment cannot be visited. His wife was from Ireland and taught the production of Irish lace to the women on the island. To this date this somewhat unusual tradition on a tiny Italian island is kept alive.
The Isola Maggiore is known for one famous visitor: Saint Francis. It is said that he passed the lent period on this island in 1211. In his honor a beautiful small church was built around 1300, bought by the Roman senator who built his castle around it.
We have seen the entire island. It was a beautiful walk of about 1 hour (slow, also for kids) with nice views over the Trasimeno Lake. In the afternoon we took the ferry boat back to Castiglione del Lago.
I enjoyed visiting the Isola Maggiore, as if I was on holiday myself! Drinking coffee on a nice terrace with view, strolling around the island. I think I’ll go back again, just to relax and enjoy the calm surroundings!
– posted by Sylvia van der Male –