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Umbria Information


Umbria is perhaps best known to Americans as the region of St. Francis of Assisi. For Italians, it is thought of as the “green heart of Italy”, for it is a landscape of hills, valleys and river basins with the biggest inland lake in Italy. The mountains are thickly wooded, and the open plains are lush and green. It is an entirely inland region tucked between Tuscany to the northwest, the Marches to the east and Lazio and Rome to the south. Thus it is easy to get here if you fly into Rome. See all properties in this region.



This area is extremely rich in things to see. Although Umbria doesn’t have a city with an one museum as well known as those in Florence, it is, nonetheless, a region with many historical wonders including significant remains from the Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance eras. The architecture and artwork include spectacular pieces from Giotto and Fra Lippi among many others. The towns and villages here have retained their Renaissance beautfy.
On top of this, the area is visited by millions of religious faithful. It is the birthplace and resting place for St. Francis, St. Benedict and St. Scolastica. And even if you’re not religious, the significance of these sites is worth a visit.


Where to stay?

With so many really wonderful towns and cities in Umbria, where to stay? Each one offers something different. So read below about each major city and its surroundings, and then you can decide where you’d rather be.


Towns & Villages


Spoleto is a favorite location of mine for many reasons. It is a beautiful town nestled on a hillside in a landscape of thickly wooded hills. It has a wonderful medieval town center with many significant monuments. The famous Festival dei Due Mondi is held each year in late June to mid July. This festival is a partnership with America and has international performances of music, dance, and the visual arts held in a variety of beautiful settings in Spoleto. Thus not only are there many terrific performances to see, but as one can expect, the town has a superb selection of restaurants. During the festival is an ideal time to visit. But a visit any time allows one to enjoy the town and the region.

Because Spoleto is just off the Via Flaminia (the old Roman road) there is easy access to many charming hill towns just to the north like Terni, Trevi and Spello. And if you continue farther north, you arrive at Assisi and eventually Perugia. Thus using Spoleto or one of the villages just north as a base for your vacation gives easy access to many wonderful spots.
Spoleto itself is perhaps better known to Americans than they might know. Its symbol is the Ponte delle Torri (the bridge of the Towers with 10 arches) and the fortress it's linked to. Thus its picture is often seen on posters of Italy. The Duomo was built in the 11th century and has remarkable frescos in it by Fra Filippo Lippi, considered by some to be his best work.
Norcia, just 25 minutes east of Spoleto, also worth a visit. It is a gastronomic destination due to the harvest of black truffles and for the cured hams and salamis produced in the area, the norcini. In fact, the world norcian has come to mean butcher throughout Italy.

Assisi and Perugia

Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis and his resting place. Even for those who are not followers, the basilica is a stirring sight as it is built on a hillside below Monte Subasio and is beautiful. The basilica has a remarkable collection of artwork with frescos by Giotto. And as a tourist, if you’re luck you might arrive in Assisi on one of the many religious festivals. We were fortunate enough to arrive on a festival day. In the evening, a stirring processional of religious men and women walked from the upper church to the main square. It was a remarkable event marking 800 years since the city was spared destruction. The town hosts many religious festivals and if you can observe one, you share a special insight into the life and history of the town.

Perugia is the capital of Umbria and is just 30 minutes by car west of Assisi. At one time it was the most powerful member of the Etruscan cities. It is a cosmopolitan city with elegant renaissance architecture.


Orvieto is built on a precipitous crag dominating the valley around it. It has notable Etruscan remains and many narrow medieval streets with many arches. The old, medieval town is on the hill with the modern city below. As it is located off the major autoroute linking Rome to Florence, Orvieto is a good location for touring. From here you drive south to Rome and north to Siena and Florence. Nearby, one can follow small, windy roads to visit the nearby ancient towns of Amelia, Terni and Todi.

Castiglione del Lago

Castigione del Lago is a lovely town on Italy’s fourth largest lake in the northwester portion of Umbria. You can easily visit Assisi and Perugia as well as enjoy the lake and nearby villages. This is also quite near to Deruta, the town famous for its hand-painted pottery. From Cstiglione del Lago it is quite easy to enter Tuscany and visit the wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino. And you can also go to Cortona, Arezzo and Siena from here. This is a landscape of wide open spaces.

Northern Umbria

To the north in Umbria are Umbertide, Gubbio and Città di Castello. These cities are less well-known to Americans than some of the others listed here, but still offer a beautiful setting and a characteristic Italian experience.



Umbria is famous for its festivals. There are many music and art festivals that attract tourists around the world. The Festival dei Due Mondei takes place in Spoleto in late June through early July. Perugia has a world-famous jazz festival in July.

The area is rich in religious history and religious practice. Along with this come many smaller festivals that take place all year long. The small mountain towns of St. Rita, Cascia and Casteluccio have festivals celebrating mystical or religious remembrances. So if you come upon one of these festivals during your visit, you can enjoy a special window into the mystical past of Italy.


Food & Wine

Umbria has delicious regional gastronomic specialties: tartuffata (black truffles), strognazzi (handmade hard wheat pasta), ricotta salata (dry ricotta), local olive oil, porcini mushrooms, norcini (hams-salamis- prosciuttos). Orvieto has the most renowned wine in the area. It is straw-yellow in color and has a pleasant bouquet. Thus no matter which part of Umbria you chose for your location, you can count on a good selection of restaurants to chose from serving delicious regional food.


Local Crafts

The village of Deruta is famous for its hand painted ceramics. It is worth a trip here just to buy dishes with their traditional white backgrounds, yellow trim and delightful designs. I have a set I purchased and had shipped to me in the US. Perugia is famous for woven cloth, linen and lace. And woodcarving and ironwork are also local crafts.


Sports & Recreation

Hiking and climbing

The Valnerina mountains around Norcia, east of Spoleto are a national forest, and you can get maps with hiking trails in the area. The Gran Piano is worth a trip even for those who don’t hike. It is a truly spectacular vast meadow often filled with wildflowers as far as the eye can see. East of Assisi is the Marches region with the Appenine mountain chain that also offers many marked hiking trails.


Lago Trasimeno is the largest inland lake on the Italian peninsula and the 4th largest in Italy. It is the site of Hannibal's victory over the Romans. Just 15 minutes from Perugia and 20 from Assisi, it makes for a nice break with the sun gets hot. Piedilucco, near Spoleto, is a beautiful lake with hilly islands in it and beautiful hills in the distance. You can rent pedal boats, rowing boats and swim.

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