Panicale, the medieval hamlet that overlooks Lake Trasimeno
Panicale is a picturesque medieval hamlet that has managed to maintain most of its original structure intact. It is located in an area that was once inhabited by the Etruscans and also represented a safe refuge for the Roman soldiers who survived the battle of Lake Trasimeno, won by Hannibal's Carthaginians.
Thanks to its location on the hills, it offers great views over Lake Trasimeno and the surrounding countryside and can be reached by a panoramic road that runs along fine olive groves. Before visiting the village, we suggest enjoying the views of the lake from one of the panoramic points just outside the walls, as well as the church of San Sebastiano, built between the late 14th and 15th centuries. The frescoes depict the martyrdom of San Sebastian and the Madonna on a throne with musician angels, and were painted by Pietro Vannucci, aka Perugino, the "Divine Painter".
The town centre starts at the Perugina gate, which leads to the first of the three squares located on three different levels. The first, piazza Umberto I, will welcome you with its 15th century travertine fountain; in piazza san Michele Arcangelo there is the Baroque Collegiate church of San Michele Arcangelo, symbol of the religious power, and finally, on the highest point, piazza Masolino is home of the Palazzo del Podestà, built between the 12th and 14th centuries by the Comacine masters and whose bell tower can be seen from the valley.
In the town centre, there is also the Cesare Caporali town theatre, with a rich calendar of events the whole year round. It is one of the most charming historical theatres in Umbria and it houses the stage curtain depicting mercenary captain Boldrino Panieri, from Panicale, created by painter Mariano Piervittori.
The Tulle Museum inside the former church of Sant'Agostino in piazza Regina Margherita is also worth a visit. It is dedicated to Anita Belleschi Grifoni who, at the beginning of the 20th century, revived a special type of tulle embroidery called "Ars Panicalensis". A needle is used directly on the cotton or silk tulle and the method was already popular from the beginning of the 19th century, thanks to the British Heathcoat and Lurdley who, in 1809, perfected a loom to manufacture tulle, a fine and lightweight yet very strong fabric characterised by its bobbinet structure.
If you wish to learn more about the history of the town families, we suggest visiting the Mariottini Art gallery inside the Town Hall in via Pietro Vannucci, where 31 paintings depicting the men of the city are on display.
Just outside the town, along the road that leads to the lake, there is the Baroque church of Madonna della Sbarra, built for a sacred image of the Virgin Mary discovered in the 16th century in a tabernacle near the town that was hidden by greenery.
A few kilometres from Panicale, there are also the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Mongiovino (16th century) and the Grondici Sanctuary, with breathtaking views over the surrounding valleys.