By Sabina Triulzi [italiakids.com]

The lake:

Castiglione del Lago Costa

Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno has a well-kept beach with umbrellas and deck chairs, pedal boats, and canoes for rent, a bar, and a playground, along with a few sailing clubs. The castle in the historic center is very beautiful. The entrance is through a 16th-century frescoed palazzo, connected to the castle by a closed narrow passage way. The walk along the castle walls will take you up to the top of a 30-meter high tower with beautiful views of the lake.

The Lake Trasimeno Islands can be reached via small ferry boats departing from the towns of Castiglione del Lago, Tuoro and Passignano.  The Isola Maggiore has a very characteristic town of small stone houses (and 35 inhabitants!), a couple of restaurants (often full, especially on weekends), bars, an old church visited by St. Francis, and a trail around the island amid olive trees, holm oaks, pine trees, cypresses and poplar trees; The Isola Polvese is a natural park, with a large wetland covered in reeds, where different species of birds and amphibians take refuge. There is a newly inaugurated agriturismo serving meals, and a very nice beach where you can rent a canoe to tour the island: €6 for a 1-person canoe and €12 for a 2- to 3-person canoe. Giovanni is available also to accompany you from San Feliciano to the island and back, or canoeing around the lake. Tel. 347 3794578. Phone number for info on the ferries: 075 827157.

“La Valle” Nature Reserve: The park entrance is along the road connecting San Savino and San Feliciano. Managed by the Legambiente environmental association, this natural park is home to a great number of aquatic birds. A wooden boardwalk among the reed thickets will take you to an observation point for bird-watching. Entrance: €3 per person (binoculars for adults and children are provided). Best times for bird-watching are early morning and late afternoon. Very interesting guided tours lasting 2 hours can also be organized for groups of minimum 10. (Unfortunately, the guide speaks Italian only). Tours include a brief presentation about the reserve, bird-watching, and a demonstration of the scientific technique of bird-ringing. Advance reservations are required. The cost is €6 per person. Phone Maddalena 328 3055083 or 075 8472865 for more info.

Towns of Piegaro and Panicale:

The 13th-century ex-glass factory of Piegaro is now the beautiful Museum of Glass. This is one of Italy’s oldest glass factories, which continued to produce until the 1960’s. The building is fantastic, the interior is constructed in small red bricks, with vaults, arches, very high ceilings, underground passage ways and tunnels, large windows with views of the picturesque historic center and the countryside.
When the factory closed down, some of the jobless workers, in coordination with the mayor of Piegaro, formed a cooperative and opened a modern glass factory in the plain below the village. Today this factory, with its thousands of bottles produced daily, is one of the most important contributor to the local economy.
Chiara, the museum director, is available to organize activities for children and adults, including weaving straw around bottles (“impagliatura”), glass decoration, and “il gioco dell’operaio” (the game of the worker), which re-enacts the stages of glass production. It is also occasionally possible to watch an “impagliatura” demonstration. This old technique is slowly disappearing, but the women of the village have created an association and are again teaching the craft to the younger generations. You can also buy their bottles to help sustain the association. Tel. 075 8358525.

Walks with donkeys (children ride, adults walk) with the nice vet and donkey breeder, Stefania Ricci, in the woods below the town of Panicale. From 2-hour walks (€10 per person) to full-day trekkings from Panicale to the Castle of Mongiovino. Tel. for bookings 075 837648 – 348 6929958. www.laviadiporsenna.it.

La Rosa Canina

Take horseback riding lessons (for beginners and advanced) and go for 2-hour walks in the countryside at La Rosa Canina, Fraz. Casalini, near Panicale. They also have ponies for children, and can organize trekkings for adults from 1 to 3 days in the area. Tel. 075 8350660. www.larosacanina.eu.

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