Castiglione del Lago, Paciano, Panicale
A tour of three medieval Umbrian villages: Castiglione del Lago, Paciano and Panicale.
Umbria is landlocked but has plenty of bodies of water.
One of these is Lake Trasimeno, one of the largest lakes with volcanic origins in Italy. If you would like to explore the area west of the lake, take this tour to discover the lovely hilltop villages here.
Head towards Castiglione del Lago. As you approach you'll see the old fortress that looks out over the lake. Castiglione del Lago sits on a promontory which, before the water level receded, was once the lake's fourth island. Go through the medieval walls and you'll be in the centre of the town, its highest part. The main street leads to the Rocca del Leone, one of medieval Umbria's most interesting military structures. It was built in 1247 and has an irregular pentagonal shape with five towers and three gates, dominated by a triangular keep that is almost 30 m high. Enter and follow the walkway over the ramparts and enjoy the views of the lake. You'll also find a huge space that is now used as an open-air theatre in the summer. There are many little restaurants in town to enjoy lake fish: the bass is delicious, but too is the tinch and trout.
Leave the lake behind you and head inland to Paciano. This medieval village has Etruscan and Roman origins and was once called Castrum Paciani Veteris. Enter its ancient walls and head to the main square. Stop and look at the old city hall, which dates to the XIV century, and Palazzo Baldeschi, home to the Nature Museum. After having enjoyed the piazza, go see some of the churches. The two most important ones are the church of San Giuseppe and the church of Madonna della Stella.
The last part of this tour is Panicale, just a few kilometres from Paciano. Panicale is a perfectly preserved medieval village with ancient walls that connect ten towers.If you enter Panicale from Porta Perugina and reach Palazzo del Podestà, the seat of the Accademia Masoliniana you'll find yourself at the highest point of the town. Now go downwards to piazza San Michele and the Collegiata di San Michele Arcangelo, which was built in the XVII century on the remains of a Romanesque church. Go in and admire the Nativity, a painting done in 1519 by Giovan Battista Caporali and the Annunciation, painted by Masolino. Embroidery on tulle is just one example of local craftsmanship and you see some fine examples of this art in the local museum.