More Mountain-Top Villages


We decided to get more steps up, so we stepped up and set off for Panicale on foot. It is only about 2 kms away, but about 500m up. We arrived for our morning coffee only to discover that every cafe had been occupied by invading American tourists. The village was setting up for a night of opera., and it was busy.  Fortunately a table became available and we went through the usual rigmarole to get Dave a decaf soy cappuccino. We then did a perimeter walk and returned home for our next adventure. Luckily no-one ran us over, as there is no verge on skinny backroads in Umbria. And the wild boar, wolves and porcupine kept their distance. (Our host Filipo had warned us not to walk at night because of the wild animals).


Looking to the south of the Panicale township, it is relatively flat (for Umbria), a patchwork of small farms, villages and industry. Although it isn't that clear, there is Lake Tressimino. On the left, sticking out into the lake is Castiglione Del Lego which features below.


Now we can focus in on our olive farm and villa in the centre of ths shot. You can see the olive trees whereas surrounding farms are small crop farmers, except for one villa which has some olive trees and a swimming pool. This is Villa Lemura, a wedding and business event venue. Any olive trees are just for show. 


The walls of Panicale are festooned with twisted drapery for the cultural festival that is on at the moment. Unfortunately we missed out on going to the opera last night.


So many alleys and archways.


It's not all stonework and ancient arches.

Castiglione del Lago

Castiglione del Lago, as its name suggests, is next to a lake, Lake Trasimeno, only 11 kms from our villa. But that doesn't mean you don't have to walk up a thousand steps to get to the old city. The lake looks much better the further away you get. Close up, it has a nice greenish tinge with some dead fish floating, not exactly inviting for a swim. Apparently the locals catch carp (one was reportedly 50 pounds) and cook it like pork. So for our last night in Umbria, we are booked into a restaurant to taste the renowned carp. It might be carpe deum, but the view will be good. 


Down near the shore of Lake Tressimina looking up at Castiglione Del Lago, is on a relatively small hill compared to other towns we have visited so far. Note the obligatory crane and tower.


Some old fogey walking up the path with the lake in the background.. The lake looks fine from this distance.


Dave and Lynette making their way up the olive tree lined path to the town.


There have been some big battles fought at the lake which would explain why the town is very well fortified.


There are about three islands in the lake with a total of less than 20 permanent residents. The lake itself is a maximum of around 4.5 metres deep. Currently, it also contains a lot of algae.




A very gnarly old olive tree. Most of the trees in the area are much younger, but a select few look like they have been around for a very long time.


Is that a beach, or what passes for a beach in central Italy?


Dunno. Could be a depiction of some of the battles fought at the lake, but that would be speculation as opposed the normal iron clad accuracy you normally get with these comments, especially when its late and I can barely remember where I am, let alone what the hazy picture is.


I can't for the life of me remember what this was about but it appears that someone has stolen the clock.


We bit the bullet on Friday, and visited Perugia, the largest city in the region. Our destination was the old city on top of the hill, as usual. We missed the car park and ended up driving through the incredibly narrow and steep streets of the old city, before finding ourselves heading out of town. Our trusty gps satnav came to the rescue and we finally found a car park, with very convenient lift access up to the town. Ray has been the sole driver and although there is the occasional gasp from individual passengers and the combined "wrong side of the road" shout from us all, he has done an incredible job, and saved us from many a scrape. Unfortunately he couldn't do anything about the white car that left some of its paint on our car in the Assisi car park. 


Looking out from a route up from the carpark. You may be able to notice a few houses out on a ridge to the right of the main city, in the distance. Well, we were forced down a series of narrow alleys before emerging on a road that lead us past those houses. We finally decided to turn around, before coming up more narrow streets, then chancing upon a carpark.


Umbrian hills.


Not a church. This was a community building. The lion on the right post and lion with the head and wings of an eagle were on the other column (just out of sight). These creatures appear to be the symbol or Perugia.


You can see the lion and the eagly lion thing on the wall here as well


Ah, more clarity.


Each pair of columns is made from a different pattern of marble, although I think the marble is only a veneer. It is very difficult to find any joins in the veneer.


We had to convince Dave not to steal the Twingo.


More arches and alleys.


The crew less the photographer


An arch that was purportedly built in 300 bc. Quite old.


Lynette and Brenda with the good stuff.


Today we visited Cortona and Montepulciano, the latter for its famous gelato. We arrived at Cortona looking for a park. After nearly finding one close to the old town on top of the hill, (we just couldn't fit, most parks are designed for fiat bambino's or smaller cars) we had to go further down the hill. That would have been ok if the escalators were working, and if we had coins to pay the fee. We could have made a fortune giving change to all the hapless parkers who could not believe that the automatic ticket dispenser did not accept cards or even notes. We actually had some cash, as a prior visit to a farmacia which did not accept cards had forced us to a bankomat. We just didn't have enough in coins to pay for the first hour. (I knew I should have not given away my precious coins to a busker). Luckily, after helping another ticket buyer, they gave us their left over coins, so that we could pay for the first hour. We then set off up the non working escalators to buy a coffee and get more change. Ray volunteered to run back down the still non working escalators to buy more hours. Cortona was rife with American tourists. We dodged them by walking up a very steep path to a church. No one else was on the path and I now know why. When we arrived at the top, bus loads of tourists were enjoying the view! It was the church of Saint Margherita, famous for her pizza and cocktail recipes.


On our way to Cortona we stopped so that Lynette could take some shots of some dead sunflowers. Here is a typical olive tree lined country road in Umbria, that I happened to park in whilst she was doing real photography.


Cortona was the only village so far that requires big hunks of rock get put on roofs so that they don't get blown away.


Whilst the girls were powering on, I was flagging, on our way to the Church of St Margharita.


The Church of St Margharita. It appeared that it was just about to host a wedding, with pizzas and cocktails being served at the wedding dinner no doubt.


Lynette and I discuss how to get back to the spot were we left Dave, on account of his not wanting to go and visit another church. We found him shortly after, looking lost and lonely.


After lunch, we set off for Montepulciano. Last time we visited, we road bikes up the mountain, so it was no big deal to walk up a little from the car park. We entered the town from the opposite end to last time and could not find the most famous gelato shop in all of Italy, which was a good thing, as we found a better shop that also catered for Dave's dairy intolerance. My mango/orangia gelato was Bellissimo. Despite the loveliness of all the mountain top villages, I think we are nearly villaged out. Tomorrow is our last day in Umbria. One more village to go, and then we take Dave and Lynette to Florence via Sienna and bid them farewell. 

IMG_20230916_154909We had just parked the car in a carpark below the old city. As we were walking up the hill, we look down and see this. Not sure what it is, but it looked quite impressive. Every where you look there is impressive old stuff.


More ancient stuff in the main square. The creatures on the beam are the mascot of the city/state. They are striking quite a pose.


You can't see an here but Montepulchiano (so Alex tells me) has more towers per square metre than any town in Italy. Oops, I got that wrong. That would be San Gimignano which is north of here, where you will also find the world's best gelato, not here. We stuffed that up, didn't we?


A rare domed church.

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