Umbria Blog | Hannibal and the Romans at Lake Trasimeno

At Lake Trasimeno an important historical event took place in the year 217 before Christ, during the second Punic war: Hannibal won from the Romans in a short but fierce battle in which the Roman Consul Caio Flaminio lost his life.

We all know the story of Hannibal who left Cartago, the city destroyed by the Romans, to vindicate his people. He marched to Rome with his elephants via Spain and the Alps, gathering more men to fight with him along the way and leaving a trail of destruction behind. Arriving at the Trasimeno Lake he already lost his last elephant, but his army was still feared and strong.

The lay out of the landscape in the area where now Tuoro sul Trasimeno is situated, was ideal to trap the Roman soldiers that were following him: hills to one side and the lake to the other side. The Roman soldiers were not used to the tactical warfare of Hannibal and almost literally walked into the arms of the fierce soldiers awaiting them on a foggy morning.

It is an intriguing story and if you want to learn more about it, you may want to visit the museum in Tuoro sul Trasimeno ‘Museo di Annibale al Trasimeno‘. You’ll learn about the history and the background of this bloody battle where 15.000 (!) Roman soldiers lost their lives. There are written explanations and video presentations in English and Italian.

You can also make a tour on foot, by bike, or even partly by car, going through the valley where once the battle took place. There are explanations of the most important facts of the battle along the way.

A couple of years ago the battle of Hannibal against the Romans at Lake Trasimeno was enacted in a great spectacle with participants of other countries too.

In Tuoro sul Trasimeno one is proud of this historical heritage and people come to study the battle here. The yearly village feasts in August remember the presence of Hannibal and the Romans: the 4 quarters of town “battling” each other with games, theatre and cooking. Don’t miss it if you are in the area. The program is available at the local tourist information.

Umbria Blog | visit museum Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia

Perugia is a lovely city with many cosy squares and tiny alleyways. It is the chocolate-capital of Umbria. In the historical centre you can’t miss the antique churches, parks and medieval buildings with nice boutiques, good coffee bars and many shops.

Perugia houses the most important art history museum of Umbria: La Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. This museum has magnificent works, including important paintings ranging from the 13th to the 19th century. A visit to this museum is a must for Renaissance art lovers.

The museum is in the medieval building “Palazzo dei Priori” on the main street Corso Vannucci 19 in Perugia. The entrance is on Corso Vannucci through a thirteenth-century portal, decorated with the symbols of the town of Perugia, the statues of the griffin and the lion.

The Palazzo dei Priori is built between 1293-1443 in Gothic style. This building houses the City Hall, the Sala dei Notari and the museum itself is on the upper floors. To get there one can take the stairs, but there also is an elevator.

The entrance is 8,00 Euro, but every first Sunday of the month, the museum is open with free admission for al visitors. One can get the entrance tickets on the ground floor. All national museums in Italy have free entrance on the first Sunday of the month, it can be quite busy that day.

The museum in Perugia includes various masterpieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Much space is given to Umbrian painters: Il Perugino, Pintoricchio and Caporali. The works range from painting on wood, canvas and murals, to sculptures in wood and stone to goldsmith’s art and fabrics. The itinerary starts with the collections of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

A wonderful masterpiece created by Bartolomeo Caporali “Madonno col Bambino e Angeli entro una ghirlanda” which means “the Virgin with child and Angels in a Garland”. This painting is completed between 1470-1479.

Painting (1467 – 1469) “Polittico di Sant’Angelo” from the early Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca. Piero della Francesca is born in the decade between 1410 – 1420 in Borgo San Sepolcro. He has spent a lot of his time in Arezzo and in San Sepolcro Tuscany.

If you want to see some other masterpieces of Piero della Francesca, in the museum Uffizi in Florence one can admire the famous portrait panels of Battista Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro.

The itinerary in the museum continues with paintings and sculptures from the 17th, 18th and 19th century in Umbria. It is a wonderful museum “La Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria” and worth a visit when you’re in Perugia. During the year there also are special exhibitions, keep an eye on the museum’s website to know more about these.

After a visit to the museum we have a nice tip for an authentic espresso: the “Sandri” bar. Sandri is in the city centre and has a long history dating back to 1860. It originally was a Swiss family. Their chocolate and coffee are of high quality. Sandri is just on the opposite side of the museum in the Corso Vannucci 32. Don’t forget to look above your head in the bar. The paintings on the ceiling are amazing!

Umbria Blog | A wine barrel race in Montepulciano Tuscany

The Bravio delle Botti or the race of the barrels, is an annual race in Montepulciano Tuscany on the last Sunday of August. The Bravio used to be a horse race, but since Montepulciano is famous for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in 1974 the idea was born to run with wine barrels instead. The different quarters of Montepulciano compete against each other to win the “Bravium”, a painted banner of the patron saint: San Giovanni Decollato.

The weight of one wine barrel is 80 kg. During the race the pushers, spingitori, push the heavy wooden wine barrels for 1.8 km uphill along the medieval streets of Montepulciano.

In the last week of the month of August many activities are held anticipating this event. Montepulciano is decorated with flags of the different quarters of town, the contrade. In the evenings the barrel pushers have their training in town and the tavernes of every contrade serve traditional dishes and local wine.

On Thursday evening is the costume parade in the historical centre, the “Corteo dei Ceri”, organised by all eight contrades. Flag wavers, drummers and participants in costume present life from a past long gone. The piazza is crowded with people watching the beautiful performance. This evening ends with exciting fireworks.


The Bravio of the Barrels, the run itself, is always on Sunday. The most important race during this medieval event. It is a moment of real competition between the eight contrade. The start of the race is at the Colonna del Marzocco in the lower art of town and the finish is on the Piazza Grande.

Before the race is the historical parade, starting at 3 p.m. The two runners of each district have a warming up while the parade departs from the Colonna del Marzocco to the Piazza Grande.


After the start signal the districts run away very fast with the heavy barrel. Many residents run along to encourage the spingitori to keep them going. On the huge display on the Piazza Grande you can follow the race every second. It is really exciting!

Voltaia won the race of the Bravio delle Botti 2017. They ran in 8.34 minutes. Al other districts arrived after 9 minutes with the last one being Cagnano with 9.48 minutes. You can just imagine the excitement of the public with such little difference between the participants.

The locals of the districts screamed and were full of emotions during the race. Even if their district didn’t win, they are proud of their pushers. The Bravio always ends in a good atmosphere. Everybody eats and drinks together to celebrate the Bravio.