Isola Maggiore and Restaurant l’Oso

Jun 15, 2015 | Food and wine, Things to do in Umbria | 8 comments

How to get to Isola Maggiore

Last week we went to our favourite restaurant on the island Isola Maggiore on Lake Trasimeno: Ristorante l’Oso. The boat trip to get to the island, the island itself and the excellent food always make up for a day to remember when we have guests, especially on a sunny day.


This time we decided not to take the usual ferry, but we wanted to try the taxi service on the lake run by Maurizio. With his little boat, he goes up and down from the beach of Tuoro to the island. It costs 1 euro less than the usual ferry.

The ferries go on a fixed time schedule (servizio navigazione), whilst Maurizo you can call and he will make sure you get to the island and back. He can take a maximum of 10-12 people on his little boat and it surely is a less professional service, but hey, that is probably the charm for most of us.

The telephone number of Maurizio is +393355619409, only Italian spoken.

The ferry:
And the boat taxi to the island:

Restaurant L’Oso

We were taken straight to the restaurant where also private boats can stop. What a luxury! Mind to book a table, especially over the weekend. It was crowded when we went. We usually go here to eat fish from the lake, but they also serve other dishes (no pizza).

The owner is Eduardo and he goes fishing regularly to make sure he has fresh fish for his restaurant. The service is friendly and the head waiter not only speaks Italian, which is handy if you do not speak Italian. We had tegamaccio, a fish soup with eel from the lake, pasta with a ragout from fish and our guests preferred the fried persico (perch). As always, it was all of good quality.

Irish lace

The island Isola Maggiore is not big, in an hour at the most you’ve walked around. There is a handful of people living on the island and some of the women you may encounter making Irish lace, an embroidery specialty that was introduced here by the wife of the senator Guglielmo who bought the castle on the island around 1900.

It was a way for the women on the island to make a small living for themselves and be less dependent on their husband’s income. How forward thinking at that time!


Saint Francis

On the other side of Isola Maggiore there is a weather-beaten wooden statue of Saint Francis who is said to have lived on the island during the lent period in the year 1211. Supposedly he was alone with the animals on the island, which is rather unlikely since the island is very small and at the time there were many more people living there.

Now there are several churches on this tiny island and one is dedicated to Saint Francis. It was built shortly after his presence on the island and now belongs to the castle.


The castle

Until some years ago one could walk around the castle and one of the elderly ladies of the island would sit at the church’s door with the key. For little money, she would let you into the church and the inner court of the castle.

The church has beautiful bright blu frescos, but apart from that, it has been robbed of its treasures. From the inner court of the castle, she would also show you the private theatre where there still was an old wooden piano. Unfortunately, the castle was bought by some real estate developers who went bankrupt. Nowadays the castle is completely closed off and falling into ruins. One can only see it from the lake.

CastleIsolaMaggiore1 CastleIsolaMaggiore2 lake


  1. Eliza Waters

    What a beautiful day that was for a visit to the island. Your food looks delicious!

    • villainumbria

      The food was and always is delicious. And yes, the weather surely helped making it a wonderful day out. 😉

  2. pieterarnolli

    Fantastisch om te lezen. Het verhaal brengt veel mooie herinneringen bij me op. Een paar jaar geleden zijn wij ook op dit eiland geweest en hebben er heerlijk vis gegeten. Eén van die mooie dagen die je altijd bij blijft.

    • villainumbria

      Juist daarom is het een geliefd uitje als we gasten hebben. Ik ben nu al vele keren op het eiland geweest, maar heb altijd het gevoel dat ik een paar uurtjes vakantie heb als ik er ben.

  3. Lyn

    What a lovely way to spend a day. Many of my favorite things. Island. Boat. Water. Food. Italy and a nice walk. Va bene

    • villainumbria

      Va bene, si! It is always a mini holiday close to home. Very close, actually. I can walk to the ferry!

  4. janinevasta

    An island with lots of hidden treasure too! Lovely to see it with people. I remember visiting in quieter times…

    • villainumbria

      During the week it is much quieter and the atmosphere very different. I’m happy that the few people still living here manage to make a living thanks to the tourists coming over the weekend.


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