At the height of its vitality, Polvese Island – in Umbria’s Lake’s Trasimeno – was home to some five hundred people.
That was between the 13th and 14th centuries, when its seventy hectares of land welcomed fishermen and farmers, Dominican and Benedictine monks, with a castle to protect them from attacks from Siena and Arezzo, and even a beautiful medieval village.
The decline started in the 17th century, when wars and military occupations led to abandonment. In the second half of the 1900s – thanks to the initiative of private citizens first, and the Perugia administration later – this wonderful corner of the world started a new life.
The deserted island was able to renew its popularity through environmental tourism, opening a Scientific-Educational Park and a Garden of Aquatic Plants (with a unique pool designed in 1959 by the great landscape architect Pietro Porcinai). The 12th-century castle, the Medieval Monastery of San Secondo, and Church of San Giuliano – dating back to the 11th century – are still there as well, of course.
And at the time of this article, two families live on the island…