The area was inhabited by the Etruscans and the Romans, and is the place where Hannibal and his troops slaughtered and defeated the Romans in the famous Battle of Lake Trasimeno (217 BC). Later the Goths, Lombards and Byzantines also fought for control of the area.
ART, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT
The town's oldest quarter has preserved intact its appearance of a fortified village, which can still be seen today enclosed within the circuit of medieval walls. The gates and towers of the walls have survived, such as the tower known as the Torre di Ponente, which still bears the Commune's coat of arms. The Rocca, or fortress, rises on the highest point in town. Built in the 5th-6th centuries, it was later enlarged and transformed. Among the buildings of artistic importance are the Church of San Cristoforo, an old parish church built before 1000 AD over the ruins of an older pagan temple, the 15th-century Church of San Rocco and the Church of San Bernardino. There is also the impressive 16th-century Sanctuary of the Madonna dell'Oliveto, which holds excellent paintings and sculptures such as the Madonna and Child in sandstone by Ascanio da Cortona.
One place of particular interest is the Boat Museum, where various craft from Lake Trasimeno, Lake Piediluco, and from Padule di Fucecchio are on display, as well as the "Fassoi", a boat made from plants from the Cabras Marsh in Sardinia. Deserving of a visit nearby is the delightful little village of Castel Rigone, with gorgeous views of Lake Trasimeno, where one finds the Sanctuary of the Madonna dei Miracoli, considered a masterpiece of the Umbrian Renaissance. Another interesting place to visit in the surrounding hills is the ruins of the Roman Villa delle Quarantaia, a rustic villa dating from the 1st century AD, and the keep of the old Castle of Monteruffiano. Also just outside Passignano is the 12th-century Church of San Vito, and the 17th-century Villa of the Bourbon Marquises of Sorbello in Pischiello.
The entire area has many places of environmental interest: regular boats leave from Passignano for Polvese Island and Maggiore Island, where one can visit the Romanesque Church of San Salvatore, built in the 12th century, and the Church of San Michele Arcangelo (14th century).