Castiglione del Lago

Town in Perugia

Castiglione Del Lago
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Hagai Agmon-Snir

Castiglione del Lago is a picturesque town located in the province of Perugia, Umbria, in central Italy. It is situated on the southwest corner of Lake Trasimeno. The town is approximately 59 km (37 mi) from Orvieto to the south, 21 km (13 mi) from Chiusi to the southwest, 56 km (35 mi) from Arezzo to the northwest, 21 km (13 mi) from Cortona to the north, and 47 km (29 mi) from Perugia to the southeast.

Originally, Castiglione del Lago developed on what was once the fourth island of Lake Trasimeno, located in its southwestern region. Over the centuries, as the town expanded, the flat area between the former island and the shore was gradually filled with piazzas, houses, churches, and other structures.

Today, the newer parts of Castiglione del Lago are situated some distance from the historical center, preserving the medieval charm of the “centro storico.” This well-preserved medieval area is characterized by a unique “law of threes.” The town walls feature three gates, and within the town, there are three piazzas and three churches, reflecting this intriguing historical pattern.

History of Castiglione del Lago

Castiglione del Lago, located on the historically significant road connecting Orvieto to the south, Chiusi to the west, and Arezzo to the north, has a history marked by conflict. Its strategic position in a contested region saw it endure cycles of destruction, from Etruscan-Roman battles to Tuscan-Perugian disputes.

A significant archaeological discovery near the town is the ancient Roman “Gioiella-Vaiano” villa, excavated between 2016 and 2019. This extensive complex, dating from the 2nd century BC to the early 4th century AD, featured both leisure and production facilities. Highlights include a luxurious bath complex and a monumental nymphaeum designed to impress with its display of water.

The town’s original fortifications were repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. Stability came during the reign of Emperor Frederick II in the early 13th century. Later, Castiglione del Lago fell under Perugian control within the Papal States, becoming a fiefdom of the Baglioni family. In 1550, Pope Julius III granted it to his sister, and her son Ascanio della Corgna became the Marquis in 1563. The fiefdom flourished as a Duchy until 1647, when it reverted to the Papal States following the death of the last Duke without heirs.

What to see in Castiglione del Lago

The Fortress of the Lion, constructed by Emperor Frederick II and completed in 1247 CE by the monk-architect Elia from Cortona, is a pentagonal-shaped castle featuring square towers at four corners and a triangular bastion, known as the Mastio, at the fifth. This design provided strategic control over Lake Trasimeno and enabled the castle to withstand numerous sieges over the centuries.

The Palazzo della Corgna, which now serves as the Town Hall (Palazzo del Comune), was built in Renaissance style by Ascanio della Corgna and designed by the architect Vignola. It functions as a civic museum and gallery. The palazzo is connected to the castle by a long, covered corridor. Its main floor boasts late Renaissance frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi and Salvio Savini. In 1574, Niccol├▓ Circignani, also known as “Il Pomarancio,” added paintings and decorations to the Room of the Exploits of Ascanio della Corgna, one of the most notable rooms in the palazzo.

Another significant building in Castiglione del Lago is the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. This finely stuccoed church, designed on a Greek-cross plan, features a neo-classical pronaos and houses a panel painted in 1580 by Eusebio da San Giorgio.

The Castiglione del Lago appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Perugia!

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Visiting Castiglione del Lago

Address: Castiglione del Lago, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes
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