For centuries the area around the lake Trasimeno lake has been an important reference point for the cultivation of wine in Umbria.
A difficult search for identity
The production territory has always had a significative difficulty in finding an identity with regard to its wine production. Quite hard identifing a specific wine variety, as it is possible in other areas of Umbria, like Orvieto, Torgiano or Montefalco.
Since the very beginning of the millennium, the lake area, like many others in Italy, has seen the spread of the production of Sangiovese and of other international wine varieties, first of all the well – known merlot and with large use of small wooden barrels. A type of production influenced by the trend of that moment, but which leaded to a lack of common identity among the wineries of the Trasimeno.
The same disciplinary of production of the DOC “Colli del Trasimeno” is very varied, as it admits numerous international vine varieties, from the chardonnay, to the pinot noir, as well as typically Umbrian ones, such as the Grechetto and the Trebbiano.
In recent years, this difficult search for identity, seems to have reached a turning point: we are talking about the increasing discovery and enhancement of Gamay del Trasimeno, already included in the DOC, cited above.
The history of this vine variety is not one of the most lucky, since it has been confused with the most famous Gamay cultivated in France, in the Beaujolais region, for a long time.
Actually, the Umbrian Gamay is part of the Sardinian Cannonau family, the Alicante and the Spanish Garnacha.
Its ancient origins are Hellenic and from that area, it spreaded to the rest of Europe, above all, it took root in the Iberican peninsula. Eventually, Spanish people introduced it to Sardinia, around the middle of the fifteenth century. From here, originated its journey towards our Umbria.
This happened thanks to the numerous Sardinian shepherds migrated to the Trasimeno area from the middle of the nineteenth century, who brought with them the wine varieties of their lands.
An example of adaptation to the territory
The Gamay of Trasimeno wine varieties has been protagonist of innumerable displacements, but it has always managed to adapt and take root in the territories in which it was brought, assuming different names, while the original one has been lost in the memory of the places. The Gamay of Trasimeno has, in fact, a twin brother also in the Marche, called Bordò, cultivated by a handful of wineries in the Piceno area. Instead, in Veneto its name is Tocai Rosso, and in France, Grenache.In any case and whatever its name, the Gamay Of Trasimeno produces many bunches and can be harvested in two moments: a first harvest, for rosé wines, while the second one, gives ruby-red wines with hints of bitter almonds and red fruits.Today Gamay Perugino or Gamay of Trasimeno is increasingly appreciated and known, as shown by the three gold medals won last April by some of the wineries from the Trasimeno lake, at the 2018 edition of the Grenaches du Monde in Catalonia. This is an international event that compared over 850 wines from all over the world, made with grapes from the Grenache family.
«From the green heart of Italy to the heart of everyone».
Serena Scorzoni is from Perugia and one of the most famous faces of Rai News 24. Enter our homes to tell us about daily news and, as a careful journalist, she couldn’t avoid taking a picture of her Umbria. A land to which she is very fond, but she has a critical attitude towards Umbria too “Politics have never had the courage to tackle the problems that isolate our region geographically. They don’t care about it, until they’ll face the harsh reality, I hope they’ll wake up”.
Serena, first of all: what is your relationship with this region?
My parents and my family live in Perugia. I therefore have an indissoluble link. Here there are my roots, but I decided to put myself away from the security of my land.
Thanks to your work, you tell the reality: how do you consider the Umbrian reality? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Umbria is a wonderful land, but like all things full of light, there are also shadows. I would like it to be more open and welcoming, less rough and closed. But it is for me the place of the soul.
How would you describe it, apart from the green heart of Italy?
Art, spirituality, food & wine, but also the tenacity and courage of the Umbrian women and men. I think of the many companies, our fellow countrymen who made themselves known in the world because of culture, science and entrepreneurship. From the green heart of Italy of Umbria to the heart of all.
Several events, I think of the earthquake and the Meredith case, have offered a vision of Perugia and of Umbria not entirely true, or maybe yes: what do you think?
I followed closely the dramatic story of Meredith and the whole media circus that for years has told a part of the story. Of course, the crime has given a very negative effect on our city and our region. It tore a veil of hypocrisy on the idyllic image of Umbria. Since then, politics have not had the courage to tackle the knots that isolate our region geographically. I mean that everyone sat on a vision of convenience, until they’ll face the harsh reality. I hope they’ll wake up.
You attended the RAI Journalism School in Perugia: what would you recommend to a youngster who is thinking of undertaking this creer?
My advice is twofold: wear comfortable shoes to tell the reality of the street and never stop learning what journalism means.
You worked for a long time for the Tgr Umbria: do you have an amusing anecdote – which you’d like to tell us, which happened during that period?
There is one about the live coverage from Gubbio on the occasion of the “Festa dei Ceri”, I was literally thrown into the atmosphere of the event. If I think about it, I still laugh today.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Sun, heart, love… No joke: quality of life.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
«… between the south and the west / along the lake lies Castiglione, protruding / like a head or a peninsula over its waters, of its castle and towers / and of its fertile olive trees, proud» (Assunta Pieralli, Il Lago Trasimeno)
Castiglione del Lago «lies on a limestone promontory that, surrounded on three sides by water, projects out for half a kilometre over Lake Trasimeno like a large ship ready to sail».
Polvese Island, photo by Enrico Mezzasoma
It has very ancient origins and it was inhabited even in the Upper Palaeolithic, as evidenced by some archaeological finds like the Trasimeno Venus. The pile dwellings in the area date from the Neolithic when «Lake Trasimeno was much larger and its waters were not contained […] by hills and terraces» and «Castiglione was an island, the fourth largest on the Trasimeno». The history of the settlement begins with the Etruscans though, who turned Castiglione del Lago into a colony and called it Clusium Novum. Evidence that it was inhabited in the Etruscan period is given by the remains of a temple dedicated to the goddess Celati. It then fell under Roman domination and «history has it that the Romans considered cutting the isthmus to make it impregnable, but they abandoned the idea and the place was left as it was».
There aren’t any other historical records until the year 776 when Charlemagne returns Clusium Novum to Pope Adrian. Its possession, including the entire lake and the three islands, is passed on to Pope Paschal I in 817 by Louis the Pious. In 995, Otto III gave Castiglione del Lago to Perugia.
Photo by Enrico Mezzasoma
For a long time, because of its strategic position, it was contended between the cities of Perugia, Arezzo and Siena until 1100 when it was eventually taken over by Perugia which turned it into a defensive stronghold. Around the middle of the 13th century, Emperor Frederick II built huge walls to defend the settlement, transforming what was just a little castle into an actual stronghold that he called Castello del Leone, probably the origin of its current name.
From 1416 to 1424, the settlement was ruled by Braccio Fortebracci and at his death, it passed to Martin V. In 1488, it was taken over by the degli Oddi family who controlled it until the Count of Pitigliano, a Florentine general who was stationed in Camucia, decreed that they returned Castiglione del Lago to Perugia. Its Signoria was offered to the Baglioni family though after they paid 800 gold ducats to the count. After the Baglioni family, its rule passed to the Papal States until 1554 when Pope Julius III offered Castiglione del Lago to Francesco della Corgna and to Ascanio, son of Francesco and Giacoma del Monte, the pope’s sister. Under the rule of the della Corgna family, who kept Castiglione del Lago until 1645, the village became a marquisate first and then a duchy, changing its urban structure and mutating into what it is today. Definitively passed under the rule of the State of the Church, it stayed in its possession until the Unification of Italy.
Palazzo della Corgna or Palazzo Ducale
Bought by the town in 1870, it currently houses its town hall. Originally, it was built as a tower‑house for the Baglioni family who even had Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci as their guests. In 1563, Ascanio della Corgna acquired the title of marquess and began some works to completely turn it into a small palace. The palace was built from plans drawn up by Vignola and Alessi. It was built on four levels. The lowest contained cellars and stables, the kitchens and storage areas were in the basement, above them was the main floor while the top floor contained the bedrooms. It is embellished by frescoes by Niccolò Circignani, known as Pomarancio, and Salvio Savini that celebrate the glory of the della Corgnas through mythical depictions and representations of their deeds.
It was built by Frederick II of Swabia who began its construction in 1247 from plans drawn up by Friar Elia Coppi from Cortona. It has an irregular pentagonal structure with four towers at the corners (two of which were coeval with the fortress, while the other two were built in the 15th and 16th centuries to replace the previous ones that had been destroyed) and a triangular keep of about 39 metres of height. Palazzo della Corgna is connected to the first gate of the fortress through a raised walkway. It is one of the most interesting examples of mediaeval architecture in Umbria and in the 15th century it was considered to be almost impregnable.
It belongs to the Town of Castiglione del Lago and it is the largest island on the Trasimeno. In 1973 it was acquired by the Province of Perugia and today it’s home to a scientific-didactic park, part of Lake Trasimeno Regional Park. The name of the island probably derives from the term polvento, downwind. It is certain that the territory was inhabited by the Etruscans and the Romans. The oldest historical record dates back to 817 when the island is mentioned by Louis the pious who gives Lake Trasimeno and its three islands to Pope Paschal I.