Umbria is one of the smallest regions of Italy and is situated in the heart of the Italian peninsula, on the border with Le Marche, Tuscany and Lazio. While not bathed by the sea, this land is rich in unspoilt landscapes characterized by hills, mountains, valleys, lakes and waterfalls. Umbrian towns and ancient villages offer their visitors various opportunities for holidays or short breaks all year round being surrounded by history, art, spirituality and good food.
Travelling across the territory of Umbria is truly an amazing experience. The area is predominantly mountainous and hilly, you can actually admire the green hills dotted with vineyards and olive trees and the Apennines range, which here includes the Sibillini Mountains and Subasio Mount (1290m above sea level), on whose ridges sit the cities of Assisi, Spello, Foligno and Spoleto. The valley furrows are also breathtaking, such as the Valle Umbra, the Tiber valley, the basins of Norcia, Gubbio, Terni and Gualdo Tadino, that offer wonderful views. Many parks were established to safeguard these beautiful landscapes and they mainly concentrates in the provinces of Perugia and Terni. Just to name some: the Park of Subasio Mount, of Cucco Mount, of Trasimeno Lake and of Tiber River.
The waters of Umbria
Umbria is home to the Trasimeno Lake, the fourth widest Italian lake. With a boat tour, you can visit its three islands: the island Polvese, now belonging to the Regional Park of Trasimeno; Maggiore Island, the only inhabited island and Minore Island, which is private and not open to visitors. The lake overlooks various towns such as Castiglione del Lago, Passignano and Tuoro sul Trasimeno, to name a few of the most popular ones. The Marmore Waterfalls near Terni are considered among the most beautiful in Europe. Set amidst lush greenery, these waterfalls dive into Nera river with a spectacular jump of 165 metres and are a must for sports lovers of canoeing, kayaking and so on. In the area of Todi and Orvieto you find the Park of Tiber River, scattered with ruins and findings of Umbrian, Etruscan and Roman times, surrounded by a rich vegetation. Again sports lovers have a wide choice of activities: hiking, horseback riding, cycling, canoeing and rowing. Worth a short stop-off are the Clitunno Springs and the annex park which houses the headwaters of the river with the same name. The underground spring waters flow through rock cracks and feed a pond with various species of fish, swans and ducks. Walking around the lake you can admire the spectacular flora and the amazing colours of water, turning from turquoise to emerald green, from yellow to blue.
Cities and towns in Umbria
Perugia is the capital of the region and is packed with things to see: churches, monuments, museums and archaeological sites. Famous for its chocolate production, each autumn it becomes house to Eurochocolate – a chocolate festival held in the streets of the historic centre. Assisi is considered one of the most ancient and historic cities of the entire peninsula. It is known all over the world for being the birthplace of St. Francis – patron saint of Italy – and Santa Chiara. Halfway between Perugia and Assisi, Foligno is worth a visit not only for its beauty but also for its flat position, to experience a much comfortable and pleasant tour. Spoleto is an ancient centre and its picturesque streets still retain the look of a medieval village, although the influence of the Romans is evident. The walk along the Tower Bridge, 236 metres long and 90 high, is definitely breathtaking. Spello and Bevagna are two small towns nestled at the foot of the mountains and on their streets you can breathe in authentic medieval history and taste traditional flavours. Another stop not to be missed on your journey through Umbria is Gubbio, a medieval centre of rare beauty where you’ll go back in time and see the evidences of a glorious past, from the Roman settlements, through the Middle Ages up to the Renaissance, that is best represented by the Palazzzo Ducale overlooking the city. Set on a hill, the medieval town of Todi overlooks the Tiber valley and is said to be the ‘most livable city in the world’. In the province of Terni rises Orvieto, famous for its magnificent cathedral, its historical buildings and medieval streets.
The journey through the cooking specialties of Umbria goes backwards, starting from dessert: Perugia, the capital of the region, has in fact established itself as a centre of chocolate production, which is still one of the artisan trades that makes this region famous. Umbrian cuisine is also not afraid of bold combinations of cocoa with other ingredients, such as spaghetti or home-made liquor. As served in Tuscany as well, polenta with cocoa and wild boar is a real must try! The use of truffle belongs to a much older tradition: white truffle in the Tiber valley, Orvieto, Gubbio and in the Eugubino-Gualdese area; black truffle in Norcia and Spoleto. In Norcia itself, the pork meat processing has always been and still remains a real art. In addition to pork, other high quality meats include pigeon, goose, duck, mutton, lamb and abundant game, including the delicious palombacce (roast pigeon). Everywhere you can find tasty salami accompained with unsalted bread, while Valnerina is the leader of cured ham still prepared by hand. Other local products widely appreciated throughout Italy and abroad are olive oil and red & white wines, such as Assisi Grechetto and Sagrantino di Montefalco.
To enjoy your stay in Umbria and experience local habits and traditions of this territory, I suggest you these three villas, equipped with every comfort.
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Casale San Francesco – Assisi (PG)
Villa Erica – Todi (PG)
Villa Seba – Perugia (PG)