On Friday, the ESFS 350: Water Essentials: Sustainable Use of a Limited Resource class visited Umbria’s Lake Trasimeno, an iconic and beloved source of pride for this land-locked region.
As part of their ongoing study of how people live with, preserve, and identify themselves in relation to water, students explored both the lake and one of its three islands called Isola Polvese as well as Lake Trasimeno pescatori (fishermen) cooperative’s fish processing facility and store located in the Umbrian town San Feliciano. Umbra professor Brooke Porter describes the trip as an opportunity to “experience the aquatic version of farm-to-table.”
The day began with a tour of a “fish factory,” where the day’s catch is cleaned, sorted, and prepared for sale at its adjacent store. Students then took to the water for a net fishing lesson from two Lago Trasimeno fishermen, which included picking a perfect spot and artfully dropping the net! Students had the opportunity to quiz the pescatori on class topics including indigenous and introduced species and the effects of tourism on the natural landscape. As student Irene Celli (Università degli Studi di Perugia) reflected, “I liked the way the fishermen interacted with the lake. It’s a natural interaction. One said that, before he had a family, he went to a regular office job every day. He decided to leave everything to work on the water – it’s very poetic.”
Upon docking at Isola Polvese, a local tour guide led the group through the island’s topography, its flora and fauna, and challenges facing the preservation of its Mediterranean microclimate.
Before returning to the mainland for a delicious seafood lunch, the class retrieved their nets and with them, the day’s catch. How did they do for first-timers? Giselle Cruz-Pena (University of North Carolina – Charlotte) laughs, “It was my first time in a fisherman’s boat! We actually got what they said was a decent catch, so that made us feel good.”
For more information about ESFS 350: Water Essentials: Sustainable Use of a Limited Resource, view the course description here.