09 March 2011

Lago Trasimeno

If you've noticed something different about the blog, it's not a formatting or font change - it's that we've been taking pictures under a clear, blue, Mediterranean sky for the past few days. We are about to leave the shores of Lago Trasimeno, where we've stayed for two nights.
The lake is in Umbria, not far from the Tuscan border, and the food is influenced by both regions. There is more fish available here than we found in the hills of Tuscany, and a real emphasis on beans and legumes.
The waters of the lake are a deep green - warm, fertile runoff collects here, washed down from the mountains surrounding it. Surprisingly, it isn't very crowded and has escaped over-development. We walked by the water almost completely alone, and took a ferry with only one other person on it.
The town we are staying in, Castiglione Del Lago, has a magnificent, 12th century castle, a pretty view out over the lake and a bustling Wednesday market.
A picnic Rebecca and Maggi put together: greens, squares of tomato and onion bread and a thick slice of Porchetta that we agreed was among the best pork dishes we'd ever tasted. The skin was crisp and golden and the meat beneath was beautifully moist and herbaceous. We ate hastily, putting meat on top of bread with not much else. Our fingers got very greasy, but that wasn't too much of a problem.
There are a few islands in the lake; we visited the largest of them, Isola Magiore. A crew of people were slowly going about replacing the pilings at the dock, working with two cranes and a chainsaw.
Being the offseason, the island was mostly deserted, though a few people were still around. A small street runs down one side of the coast, and the houses crowd together in the lee of the wind. On top of the small hill, an 11th century church stood, closed up and silent. We saw dozens of rabbits in the underbrush and a few pheasant-like birds which I couldn't identify. This was a favorite haunt of Saint Francis of Assisi, according to legend, and it feels very much the same as it must have when he was alive.
We're setting off for Rome this morning, and are having a tough time leaving behind the quiet and relative solitude that we've found here. On the ferry back to shore yesterday, we sat without talking for most of the ride, enjoying the sun and the still waters.

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