DAY 3 of 5 – Italy
Montesperello di Magione San Feliciano Case Nuove – 11 km
What’s special about San Feliciano? Besides being a village situated on the banks of Lake Trasimeno and enjoying one of the most stunning sunsets in the world, San Feliciano is also a thriving fishing village.
There are fishermen in San Feliciano today who have been fishing the lake for over 50 years using the same techniques they have used for decades.
There are lots of small docks and jetties along the lake’s edge, with boats tied up or dragged onto the shore. The shoreline is dotted with fishermen’s huts, made out of wood and straw.
We approach one fisherman and ask him his name and how long he has been doing this job for. He says that everyone in San Feliciano knows him as Geppetto, and he has been fishing since he was small.
He’s untangling a net – the same one he has been using since he started fishing. We try to give him a hand untangling it, but it’s not as easy as it looks. Geppetto one the other hand does it rapidly and extremely competently.
We ask him if he knows anyone who would take us out on a boat on the lake. He answers straight away – “me”. Great!
He drops his net, jumps in his boat, gets it ready, helps us on board, and we set sail.
The surface of Lake Trasimeno measures 128 square kilometres, making it the biggest lake in central Italy. Its maximum depth is 6 metres. And to think that 5 million years ago, Lake Trasimeno was a golf in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
We chat about life with Geppetto for a while. He describes his passion for this job and how, even though he has tried his hand at many jobs in different parts of the world, he wouldn’t change this one for anything.
Smiling, he says, “Freedom doesn’t have a price. Even though I don’t earn much with this job, it’s only here that I am happy – and only here that I feel free”.
So what is there to fish for in Lake Trasimeno? There are 18 different species of fish or crustaceans, though only 5 of them are native to the lake. It’s even possible to find exotic species such as red prawns from Louisiana (USA), as well as pike, carp, tench, chub and many more.
We take a quick look at the Island of Polvese, the biggest of three islands on the lake, before returning to shore.
There are lots of boats tied up along the shore and jetties.
Many of the older people in San Feliciano enjoy sitting in the shade of one of the trees along the shoreline. Perhaps they’re reflecting on their memories of the place.
It’s so picturesque here that someone has even hung a frame between two trees. Yes, just a frame, because the artwork is the landscape of the lake and hills.
And we’ve decided to step into this artwork, and just momentarily, we’re part of it, before we leave; and it changes once more.
The nice thing about an agriturismo is that they don’t just offer you a place to stay, but a whole experience. Sleeping becomes almost secondary to everything else that you can do, and the atmosphere and welcome – which in some places is so friendly it almost feels like you’re at home.
We’re looking for just such a place – one of those where you can feel a family atmosphere the moment you step through the door.
And we found it. Nestled on a hill, in the heart of the countryside. We are at the agriturismo Le Terre di Isa.
Owners Isabella and Massimo welcome us, although they seem more like a mother and father to all their guests rather than the owners!
Awareness of nature comes first at Le Terre di Isa.
The whole structure is eco-friendly. Rubbish is recycled, as well as leftovers from the organic food they serve, and water is reused after being cleaned through a herbal purification process.
They love animals here. We’re greeted by geese Clotilde and Oscar, Caruso the rooster and his many wives, Callawey the horse, and the donkey.
Near the old farmhouse there is a lovely swimming pool with stunning views of the hills, a fitness trail which guests can use to stay in shape, benches to relax on in close contact with nature and in complete privacy, and several barbecues – one of which has a small amphitheatre next to it, the ideal spot to spend an evening under the stars.
Dinner at Le Terre di Isa feels like a family affair. Hearty, homemade, traditional meals are made in the kitchen, and the aromas are intoxicating.
The main ingredients are Isabella’s and Massimo’s own organic produce: extra virgin olive oil made from olives grown in their olive grove, vegetables from their garden, jams made from fruits from their orchards, and herbs from their herb garden.
All of these products are also for sale, enabling guests to take home a piece of authentic Tuscan cuisine.
Guests can eat outside under a gazebo, or indoors near a giant fireplace.
The rooms and apartments are finely furnished. Each room has a name: Cyclamen, Queen Bee, Ivy, Dragonfly, Oak, Dog Rose, Cupid’s Suite… each has its own colours and its own atmosphere.
We are in Cupid’s Suite. We feel like we’re in the bedroom of a castle. Perhaps that’s due to the feeling of being in another era, or the loveliness of the colours, perhaps it’s the antique bathtub – the fact is, being here is exciting.
But that’s not all. In such a cosy, intimate place, ideal for couples, having a private spa is a must.
Guests can enjoy hydrotherapy massage baths with panoramic views, hydrotherapy showers, a sauna, sofas, music, and a small library of books. A peaceful oasis.
Le Terre di Isa sits on the side of a hill, on the other side of which is Lake Trasimeno.
Are we ready to climb to the top and be blown away by another incredible sunset?
Borrowing two bicycles from Massimo and Isabella, we follow a mule track up the hill. The path is named after the fact that mules used to transport all kinds of goods along this very route.
It’s very steep. Can anyone do this on a bike? We get off and push ours for a bit. Then we jump back on the seats.
We see farmhouses, ruins, and pass people who are out for an evening stroll, when suddenly we reach the top, and Lake Trasimeno is in front of us in all its splendour.
Our hard work to get to the top of the hill has been amply rewarded.