Sitting just south of Lake Trasimeno, Panicale is in a beautiful position between the lake and the Val di Chiana, between Perugia and Montepulciano. The elliptical-shaped town wraps around the hill, and is a sure-fire charmer. It may be small but it is packed with appeal -the streets, the buildings, and sights, not to mention the views. The Piazza della Corte is at the center, now called Piazza Umberto I, where the church of San Michele is located, along with a fountain from the 1400s. At the high point is the Palazzo del Podesta', once the seat of power, and from there, the streets and homes form concentric circles, descending to the outer walls.

There are some gems hidden within the cobbled lanes. The 1700s Teatro Caporali is a jewelry-box type of theater with velvet-swathed seats and viewing boxes, like an opulent opera house in miniature. The Church of San Michele Arcangelo is a centerpiece of town. Its austere facade belies the beauty you'll find inside, with pure Renaissance decor in its arches, marble designs, and paintings and frescoes.

The Santuario di Mongiovino gives a Bramante-inspired style, and inside shows a play of light and color with stunning frescoes, especially the dome. Some were done by Pomarancio, along with other regional masters. It should definitely be on your must-see list.

The Museo del Tulle is in a former church from the 1500s, with a lovely collection of delicate, artistic produced lace.

Despite its small size, Panicale is big on charm, and there are some restaurants and cafes in town to enjoy the ambiance, the slow pace and a relaxing glass of wine or coffee on the piazza.

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