This past Friday, the Umbra Institute’s Intensive Italian summer students hopped on a train and took a bike ride around Lake Trasimeno with a guide, who explained in Italian the history of the Umbrian lake and the area. The guided tour gave students the opportunity to improve their comprehension and speaking skills in a fun and active environment. Biking from Passignano sul Trasimeno to Tuoro sul Trasimeno, the students then took the ferry to Isola Maggiore, one of the three islands in the lake. Along the way, they asked the guide questions in Italian to learn more about the area. Here are some fun historical facts they learned:
1. Passignano was an important aeronautical hub of Italy until the 1990s. As small as Passignano is, it housed the important Società Aeronautica Italiana, which made planes and boats. One of the ferries of the lake, the Perugia, was created at this factory.
2. The Carthaginians won an important battle against the Roman Empire in the Battle of Trasimeno in 217 BC near Tuoro. Remnants of weapons, horse harnesses, and coins are still being found today!
3. St. Francis of Assisi stayed on Isola Maggiore for forty days to fast. He was given a loaf of bread and a rabbit as food, but instead of eating the rabbit he fed it pieces of bread.
4. Legend has it that there is a buried treasure in the center of Isola Minore, which is uninhabited and prohibited to go to. Pirates supposedly took over the island, where they stored their treasures.
The bike tour proved a great way to keep both the brain and the body active during the Umbra Institute’s Intensive Italian through Culture Summer Program!