Lake Trasimeno (Lago Trasimeno), Italy

Lake Trasimeno /Lago Trasimeno, also referred to as Trasimene or Thrasimene in English, is the largest lake on the Italian peninsula south of the Po River with a surface area of 128 km2, slightly less than Lake Como. No major river flows directly into or out of Lake Trasimeno and the water level fluctuates significantly according to rainfall levels and the seasonal demands from the towns, villages and farms near the shore.

Trasimeno is shallow, muddy, rich in fish, including pike, carp, and tench. It is 4 m deep on average. Lake Trasimeno is an endorheic body of water; it is an impounded lake that receives water but has no outlet. Other endorheic bodies of water include the Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Utah’s Great Salt Lake, and the Dead Sea. Evaporation can lead to a build up of minerals in the water, resulting in a saline conditions, making these lakes sensitive to pressures from pollution. The shallow waters meant that malarial mosquitoes prospered. To combat malaria, some mosquito larvae-eating fish were imported from USA during the 1950s. These fish are widely scattered, and some live in the lakes near Trasimeno. Although billions of larvae are eaten, there are still many mosquitoes and other insects. Trasimeno water quality is still very good, as a misuration of Italia Nostra showed in 2005. The lack of large farms in the area and a small population means a low pollution level. A proposal to drain the lake to solve the problems of malaria and depth changes was rejected. At the end of the 19th century, the level changes were solved by building a channel near San Feliciano. This also lessened the malaria problem.

The inhabitants of the communes around Trasimeno and the Umbrian people have successfully protected their lake, whose waters are fit for swimming and whose valleys and islands are intact environments. In 1995 a natural park was established over the entire surface and the shores. A 50 km bicycle path was opened in 2003 around the lake that allows tourists to explore it. There are also cross-country paths, especially over the hills on the eastern side.

Half of Trasimeno is surrounded by hills, rich in olives that are an important agricultural resource. On the western shore, near Tuscany, there are vineyards, and fruit and vegetables are grown. The hills are much lower and the climate is warmer. Monte Subasio near Assisi, about 70 km to the east, and Monte Amiata, about 70 km to the west, can be seen. The vegetation includes pines, willows and poplars around the shores, many over 30 m tall. The main towns are Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tuoro, Monte del Lago, Torricella, S.Feliciano, S.Arcangelo, Castiglione del Lago, and Borghetto. Castiglione del Lago has the longest shore, being on the only significant peninsula of the lake. This may have been an island that was joined to the shore by the Romans. Surrounding the lake are old small towns, and isolated castles, like Zocco castle and a tower near Passignano. Monte del Lago was originally built to control the road from Trasimeno to Perugia.

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