or Lago Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy
(July-August): The joyous and fun-filled atmosphere of the blues fills the Trasimeno air as it hosts one of Italy’s most important Blues festivals, featuring music from the Mississippi to that of Mali. The concert venues are the charming tiny villages that dot the lakeshore offering music from dusk to dawn, as well as putting on art exhibitions, organising competitions and running seminars. It is a multiethnic series of events
which seeks out new talent and renovation in a spirit of peace and harmony.
A splash of inky blue on the hilly landscape, Lago Trasimeno is where Umbria spills over into Tuscany. Italy's fourth-largest lake is a prime spot if you want to tiptoe off the well-trodden trail for a spell and slip into the languid rhythm of lake life. Around this 128 sq km lake, silver-green olive groves, vines, woods of oak and cypress and sunflower fields frame castle-topped medieval towns
, such as Castiglione del Lago
, which are draped along its shores like a daisy chain. A gentle and unhurried ambiance hangs over the lake's trio of islands – Maggiore
– all wonderfully relaxing escapes.
Hannibal destroyed the Roman army here in 217 BC, and the lake's numerous fortifications attest to its strategic position and turbulent past.
The most tempting option around Perugia – whose surroundings are generally pretty bleak – is Lago Tramiseno
, an ideal spot to hole up in for a few days, and particularly recommended if you want to get in some swimming, windsurfing or sailing
. The lake is about 30km from Perugia and is easy to get to on public transport. It’s the biggest inland stretch of water in mainland Italy
, and, though you wouldn’t think so to look at it, never deeper than 7m
– hence bath-like warm water in summer.
A winning combination of tree-covered hills to the north, Umbria’s subtle light, and placid lapping water produces some magical moments, but on overcast and squally days the mood can turn melancholy. Not all the reed-lined shore is uniformly pretty either; steer clear of the northern coast and head for the stretches south of Magione and Castiglione if you’re after relative peace and quiet.