Umbria Blog | Wakeboard at Lake Trasimeno

Since a few years there is a wakeboard park at Lake Trasimeno.  During this time of the year that we are busy with our summer season, it also is the time that family and friends spend their holiday with us.  By now their children are young teenagers and we thought to try this wakeboard park with them. That wasn’t a bad idea: now that I am writing this we went once and are going again tomorrow.

The wake park (maybe park is a little bit exaggerated, but that’s what they call it) is easy to find along the road between Borghetto and Castiglione del Lago. Coming from the highway, you take the exit for Castiglione del Lago and will find the location within a kilometre, on the left hand side of the road with a large parking lot in front. There is a a restaurant here, so it is easy to recognize. Behind the restaurant is a small inner lake where you can practice wakeboarding.

It is suitable for children from 8 years onwards (Baby Wake), but personally I think that children a little bit older will enjoy this most. One does need some force and muscle to stand up on the water. A lifejacket and helmet is supplied to everybody and you’ll be pulled over the water via a cable. Raising yourself out of the water is not easy and making loops is something for experienced wakeboarders only. You may have an advantage if you are a snowboarder. We mainly plunged into the water. 😉

All in all it was a fun hour, if you are a group it’ll take more time. The first time you’ll pay €25 for an introduction and obligatory subscription, after that it is €12 each time. On the website are the opening hours, but it is better to call and agree a time first. Otherwise you risk that there is nobody present or a group practicing making you wait quite a while. Payment is in cash,  I didn’t spot a bank machine anywhere.

The restaurant has good pizza’s and other food. Plates are abundant. If you go wakeboarding late afternoon, you may want to stay here for dinner. The restaurant is called: La Sosta del Priore and opens in the evening from 7 pm. The address is: Strada Statale 75bis, 06061 Castiglione del Lago (PG). I didn’t find a website, but they are on Tripadvisor.

 

Umbria Blog | Prehistory and the Abbey of Farneta

On a beautiful sunny day in April I participated in a guided walk in the area of the Abbey of Farneta. Farneta is a small hamlet in the valley next to the Trasimeno lake in Umbria, the Val di Chiana. Coming from the A1 or from Siena, driving towards Lake Trasimeno and Perugia many times I just drove by and never bothered to take the exit for “Abbazia di Farneta”. But now I did …

In a landscape of gentle hills, typical of the Val di Chiana, stands an old Romanesk Church. Once it was a Benedictine Abbey of which one can still see some remaining walls. For 65 years, from 1937 to 2002, the church belonging to the abbey has had the same pastor. Don Sante Felici was a very unique man who not only led his parish with much verve. He was also very interested in ancient times and made sure that the Abbey of Farneta was preserved from downfall.

The Etruscans left many remnants in this area and the pastor made sure that the cellars underneath the church were dug out. And he was right: nowadays one can visit the crypt underneath the altar dating back to pre-roman times. Legend goes that when digging they found enormous amounts of human skeletons and living snakes; an image of Dante’s inferno.

Our walk continued from the Abbey to the former school building of Farneta where to my surprise a small paleontology museum is made with … yes … prehistoric fossils, all found near Farneta! Who would have thought: a million years ago the Val di Chiana valley was a savannah where elephants, hyenas and rhinoceros lived. Even longer ago, the whole environment was a sea. In the museum you can see many fossil shells, but also bones of prehistoric elephants, fossilized feces of hyenas and more.

But why in Farneta? That certainly involves the pastor – through the stories of our guide I imagine a kind of Don Camillo. In the 1950s and 1960s the construction of the A1 took place for which a lot of sand was needed. In later years the same happened again with the construction of the highway Siena-Perugia. In the area one excavated a lot of ground for the construction of these new roads.

Don Sante made arrangements with the workmen: they had to warn him if they found bones or other valuable relics. In this way, even two whole skeletons of prehistoric elephants were found, which are now in the paleontological museum of Florence. To this day farmers in the area or workmen during new construction projects find prehistoric bones or Etruscan remains.

It is thanks to the erudite priest Don Sante that many relics found around Farneta can be seen today. His heritage is now managed by a voluntary organization.

Our guide was Laura Gremoli. If you would like more information about the Etruscans and the history around the Val di Chiana, then let yourself be guided by Laura. She has an incredible knowledge and is a passionate story teller. I already experienced this at a guided tour about Etruscans at the Maec museum of Cortona. She is an inexhaustible source of information. You can call her on + 39 3494949604, or email info@cortonatouristguide.com. She speaks English.

Umbria Blog | Walking with Anime Pioniere

I often receive newsletters and activities from the Oasi La Valle, a nature reserve at Lake Trasimeno and a paradise for bird watchers. This time I found an invitation in my mailbox to join a walk organised by a fairly new organisation called Anime Pioniere. They organise walks in nature often in lesser known areas along the Umbria Tuscany border: Trasimeno, Cortona, Città di Castello, San Sepolcro.

Sunday the 12th of March the morning started at the Oasi La Valle where we witnessed the ringing of birds and where the walk started. 6 km, not too much height difference, hence also adapted for families with children like ourselves. We climbed the hill and over the hills’ ridges we walked from San Savino to San Feliciano. Of course we finished the walk with a small lunch, a good Italian habit. We had some antipasti and fried fish from the lake with the local fishermen.

We paid euro 15 p.p. for the tour at the Oasi La Valle, the walk and the light lunch.

It was a wonderful early spring day. Here is an impression:

Do you enjoy a walk in nature with trained guides in mostly undiscovered parts of Umbria and Tuscany? Follow the Anime Pioniere: they organise interesting walks all year round, mostly on Sunday or on Italian bank holidays. We were quite a group with almost 50 participants, all Italians. They hope they will also have tourists to join them during the summer period. During the walk we learned about the area, its history and its fauna. They also speak English. It is recommended to wear proper shoes for walking and also ask for the difficulty when making a reservation, especially when you have kids.

Have fun!