The Lakes of Central Italy
While the Italian lake district is typically that of the Northern region, the central regions of the country are also home to a variety of lakes and lakeside towns. These include history lessons and an abundance of excursions available. Lake Vico, Martignano, Bolsena, Trasimeno, and Bracciano make up the area.
Lake of Vico / Lago di Vico
This volcanic-made lake is of the highest elevation in Italy and is among the best preserved as well. Between the areas of Caprarola and Punta del Lago, this lake is situated in a nature reserve, which also helps with successful preservation. This well-kept nature reserve is named the “Riserva naturale del Lago di Vico,” literally the natural reserve of Lake Vico.
This type of man-tended land, had given birth to a variety of life in the plant and animal kingdoms. Rarity among the living of this area is a fascinating spectacle and quite beautiful to explore. Nearby, you can enjoy Caprarola’s thermal waters and the beautiful Villa Farnese. The lake is in the region of Ronciglione, just to the North and slightly to the West.
Lake of Martignano / Lago di Martignano
This tiny lake is the smallest of the lakes categorized as near the capital city of Rome. The size of the Lake of Martignano has allowed it to remain a hidden gem among many of the other well-known lakes of the area. There are many small places open during the summer months to enjoy food and drinks adjacent to the lake. Additionally, there are large grass areas to relax on the shoreline. The lake was formed by a crater from an old volcanic eruption, making the story and features of the lake an interesting one to experience. It’s a quick trip from Lake Bracciano by car or if you’re feeling sporty, you can also reach it by foot in a few kilometers.
Lake of Bolsena / Lago di Bolsena
The Lake of Bolsena is also a bit off the beaten path. It doesn’t draw large crowds of tourists but is a small prize in the midst of the lakes in the vicinity. This is an area rich in food and wine culture and traditions. Montefiascone is the lake’s main wine producing area and also offers a beautiful cathedral. The town of Bolsena is of course along the lake’s shores. If you are familiar with the position of Sirmione on Lake Garda in the North of Italy, Capodimonte sits along the Lake of Bolsena in a similar way; a small peninsula of land makes its way into the lake where this small lake-side village sits.
Two islands make themselves evident in the center of this water-filled caldera, a crater formed from a cauldron of magma which destroys the Earth’s surface above. The lake was formed completely from rainfall, runoff and the aquifer. Following the filling of the lake, eruptions from beneath have formed the Martana and Bisentina islands. Roman records report activity from this volcanic Earth around 104 BC but since, it has been dormant. The lake is situated in the province of Viterbo and is an easy trip on your way from the north, traveling toward Rome.
Lake Trasimeno / Lago di Trasimeno
In the province of Perugia, in the beautiful region of Umbria lies the well-known Lake Trasimeno. An ancient Roman battle between Gaius Flaminio and the Hannibal-led army of Carthage truly puts this famous lake on the map, known at the battle of Lake Trasimeno. The lake’s origins are said to be of tectonic plate activity. This body of water was sitting in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 5 million years ago. When the sea level decreased, the area was filled with water and land around the lake has since developed. The water supply has been in danger throughout the years, even drawing the attention of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci at some point – a project of his that had never come to fruition. Powerful landowners have caused some frightening moments for Lake Trasimeno as they continue to use the waters. Utilizing tributaries close by, the water level has been somewhat stabilized, but this lake does remain in danger if the scale is tipped to far to the wrong side. Even so, this is the largest lake of Italy’s main peninsula with a massive 128 sq km area.
In addition to the interesting history of this famous area, the natural resources of the surrounding areas allow for the area’s beauty even apart from the lake’s peaceful waters. One of the most magnificent villages in the country lies on the coast of Lake Trasimeno – Castiglione del Lago. In this area, biking is welcomed as a great way to enjoy the natural surroundings. Panicarola is the most spectacular town of the Castiglione del Lago section of the lake shore. In addition to this, the rest of the lake’s edge holds a combination of public and private beaches for visitors to enjoy. Ferries in the lake-side villages and the lake’s islands make transportation to all the shores very easy as well. This large body of water is also home to three islands. The most fascinating of the islands is probably Isola Maggiore with its population of just 18 people. The biggest in area is Isola Polvese which since 1995 has been recognized as an environmental educational area, becoming a park of scientific and environmental protection studies. Lastly, inhabited by an abundance of cormorants, a species of aquatic birds, is Isola Minore.
This lake is relatively simple to get to by car or public transit. Bus transport from the train stations of Castiglione del Lago, Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Terontola, Chiusi-Chianciano, or Magione are available. Additionally, buses travel between the major lake towns around it as well. If you are coming by car, you can take the Perugia exit from the E45, following signs for Lake Trasimeno or from the autostrada del Sole, northbound take the Chiusi-Chianciano exit / southbound take the Valdichiana exit. It’s an easy trip from tourist attractions like Pieve within Perugia or Cortona, technically located in the region of Tuscany, but nonetheless very closeby!
Lake Bracciano / Lago di Bracciano
Lake Bracciano, looking odd in shape by nature, is almost a perfect circle. This lake was additionally created by volcanic activity and is an easy stop on the way to Rome from up further North. As mentioned before, the Lake of Martiganano is also close by as well as the natural reserve of Monterano. The Sabatino complex is a selection of land areas drastically affected by intense volcanic activity.
This lake sits within this complex and is also a result of the ancient natural disasters. Geysers are still left over in the area, spewing sulfur dioxide.
Probably the most popular attraction of Lake Bracciano lies in the town of Bracciano itself – the papal palace, the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, known for its Medieval style. Also in the Medieval style is the center of Anguillara Sabazia, a town along the lake shore. Trevignano Romano is a well-known section of coast on the lake, with small shops and cosy vibes along the entire coast. The sunsets across Lake Bracciano along with the collection of ducks and swans make sure the mental images from this holiday will not be soon forgotten.