While Hannibal was making a name for himself ambushing Romans on the shores of Lake Trasimeno history moved to imprint the event in the landscape of rolling hills and mountains that encircle one of Italy’s most panoramic lake views. Driving along the coastal road that edges the lake you’ll pass sites that commemorate the historical battle near Tuoro sul Trasimeno where the Carthaginian renegade general managed to surround and out manoeuvre Roman legions and one of the very few times in history when an entire army is ambushed by another entire army to win a battle. There is a short signposted itinerary to the main location of the action where visitors can follow an archaeological walk through the battlefield. Sites like Torrente Sanguinante (river of blood) and Ossaia (place of bones) take their names from the historical event which occurred here in 217 BC.
Today Lake Trasimeno is one of Italy’s most popular lake resorts, a holiday destination with excursion boats to its islands and well-tended beaches for swimming and sailing. I spent an afternoon along Trasimeno’s shores watching wind surfers and enjoying a picnic lunch of affettati misti (mixed cold cuts) with little to worry about except the bees and looking forward to traveling on to Perguia to visit friends and then on to the Umbrian hill towns and Assisi. Although the Lombardian lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore may be better known, the mirror-like beauty of Trasimeno is no less compelling. Off the tourist radar for most American travelers, it is mid-point in the Italian peninsula, just across the border of Tuscany into Umbria. My Perugian friend Luca who visited me in the States one summer commented that it reminded him of the resorts along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Trasimeno like Michigan is known for its lake perch (persico reale) and for summer family holidays with lakeside towns filled with art and history and a place to get away and enjoy nature.