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Monte del Lago - Magione

The history of a small village overlooking the lake: from the Middle Ages to the Belle Époque.


Monte del Lago is a small village perched on a promontory overlooking Lake Trasimeno, between Torricella and San Feliciano.

The first traces of what was once called Mons Fontegianus, date back to the 10th century, when the village was most likely part of the Pieve di San Giovenale, which disappeared in the year 1000. It is equipped with a defensive wall, erected only from 1312, when the Commune of Perugia, fearing an assault from Emperor Henry VII, promoted the reinforcement of the castles present along the lake shore. These included the Monte del Lago Castle, the Polvese Island Fortress, the Lion Fortress in Castiglione del Lago, the nearby Zocco Castle and the Castle of the Knights of Malta.

The castle of Monte del Lago soon represented a strategic place in the countryside during the modern age. In fact, during the Papal domination of the 16th century, it became the administrative seat of the Camera Apostolica, since the small promontory allowed the control of a large part of the lake basin and thus of the economic activity of the contado, founded in particular on the flourishing lake fishing.


The castle of Monte del Lago overlooks the eastern shore of Lake Trasimeno. Following the scenic route of its 14th-century walls, it is possible to admire the Porta Trasimena and visit the Church of S. Andrea, with a large fresco of the Crucifixion dominating the back wall, datable to the end of the 14th century and testifying to the fruitful season of late-Gothic painting around Lake Trasimeno. At the eastern entrance to the village is the Rocca, seat of the Camera Apostolica, equipped with prisons during the period of papal rule.

The hamlet is cut in half by a main road, Via della Strage, which, ending in a steep flight of steps, leads to the shores of the lake and its jetty. Along this are the village's main buildings: Villa Aganoor Pompilj and, below it, overlooking Lake Trasimeno, the Palazzo Schnabl. The villa is located at the entrance to the castle. In the early 20th century, the poetess Vittoria Aganoor, daughter of a count of Armenian origin and wife of the noble deputy Guido Pompilj, lived there. She was responsible for the great work of land reclamation against malaria carried out in the entire area and the consequent tourist launch of the entire Trasimeno basin.

The villa is topped by a roof-terrace with a splendid view, while in the lower part is the 'terrace of the Poetess'. Vittoria, a well-known writer of the Belle Époque, inspired by the beauty of the lake and its castle, dedicated poems to these places in her more mature years and described them in several letters to artists of the time, with whom she had an intense cultural and epistolary exchange. She died prematurely following a complex operation, and her husband, Count Pompilj, killed himself a few hours later out of the heartbreak of her loss.

In September, in Monte del Lago, the Municipality of Magione organises, as part of the National Prize Vittoria Aganoor Pompilj, the Festival delle Corrispondenze (Festival of Correspondence), inspired by her famous correspondence, “with the aim of recounting art through the discreet charm of epistolary correspondence”.

Like Villa Aganoor Pompilj, the Schnabl Palace (19th century) was also a salon frequented by artists. It was the home of the musicologist Riccardo Rossi Schnabl, a close friend of the composer Giacomo Puccini, who was often his guest. During their friendship, which lasted over 20 years, the two had an intense correspondence, recently published by the composer's niece . The international figure of Riccardo Schnabl, also a symbolic figure of the Belle Époque, remains surrounded by an aura of fascination to this day.

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