Panicale, the enchanted countryside around Lake Trasimeno
The village of Panicale is prominent amidst the sugar loaf hills bordering Lake Trasimeno to the south. This medieval town is still surrounded by walls, but its origins are much older: the Roman soldiers who escaped the defeat of Trasimeno found refuge on this hill. It was a free municipality, and the great artist Perugino worked here during the Renaissance.
Today, it is an obligatory stop on any trip to Lake Trasimeno, over which there is an enchanting view.
A small village rich in history
Although small in size, the historical centre of Panicale allows you to take a stroll through history, among Romanesque churches, such as the Collegiate Church of San Michele; the 14th-century Palazzo del Podestà; the 15th-century Palazzo Donini Ferretti-Mancini; the Church of San Sebastiano, which houses two frescoes by the painter from Città della Pieve, Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino (the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian and the Virgin with St. Augustine); the Caporali Theatre, founded in the 17th century; and a preserved Pinacoteca (picture gallery) in the Town Hall, which houses the Mariottini collection, consisting of 31 portraits of illustrious local personalities, painted by various Perugian artists in the 18th century.
The Tulle Embroidery Museum
The former church of St Augustine houses a small museum that tells an important story for a small town like Panicale, that of an all-female craft, the art of embroidery. Popular throughout Umbria, embroidery was a significant economic sector for this area, providing supplementary income for farming families. In the 19th century, production intensified following the introduction of the tulle machine, which made production much faster. The museum also chronicles the story of a woman from Panicale, Anita Belleschi, who founded a school of embroidery on tulle that enabled several local women to become financially independent. Still today in Panicale there is an association of embroidery enthusiasts who also offer on-line courses.
From Panicale, take the road to the hamlet of Casalini and you will find yourself in beautiful countryside where fields of grain alternate with wooded thickets, rows of trees and hedges. On the highest hill, nestled among the holm oaks, stands Montalera Castle, a building of medieval origins that underwent renovation in 1534 by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, a celebrity in Rome and in the papal court, who came from a family of architects specialising in fortifications at a time when the development of artillery meant that medieval buildings had to be reinforced. Montalera became almost a fortress, and one of the most modern buildings in the area. Today it is home to a large organic farm.