Umbria, bordering Tuscany to its west, is a rugged, stunning, and largely undiscovered region with a unique blend of charming hill towns, prominent mountains and rolling countryside. Visit the town of Assisi, sitting in the shadow of Monte Subasio and world-famous for St. Francis. Spello, is renowned for its breathtaking Festival of Infiorata, in which teams of people working to create elaborate sidewalk flower displays for the Corpus Domini feast. Perugia, the provincial capital of this region, is world-famous for its chocolate. Indeed, Umbria presents the traveler with endless possibilities to explore: from undiscovered Norcia and the delights of wild boar products to Spoleto with its rich culture and Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds); from Orvieto rising to the dizzying heights of its Duomo to the ancient and well-preserved Roman ruins of Carsulae.
.Assisi is a hill town in central Italy’s Umbria region in the province of Perugia. It was the birthplace of St. Francis (1181–1226), one of Italy’s patron saints, who began the Franciscan religious order in the year 1208. Several churches have connections to St. Francis . The Basilica of St. Francis is a massive, 2-level church, consecrated in 1253. Its 13th-century frescoes portraying the life of St. Francis have been attributed to Giotto and Cimabue, among others. The crypt houses the saint’s stone sarcophagus. Other sights include the Roman amphitheater, built in the early 1st century AD. Its elliptical plan is identifiable from the medieval houses built around it. This beautiful little town has been the destination of pilgrims for centuries and many saints come from here. It was under Papal rule in the mid 1400’s. There is beautiful countryside, ancient town structures, and sacred ground in this special little town just southeast of Perugia.
This largely undiscovered village has begun to challenge the winemakers of Tuscany. Montefalco’s famous Sagrantino wine is a red, earthy, and bold made from a specific indigenous grape dating back to the mid-16th century cultivated by monks for use in their sacramental celebrations. For, as many wine lovers know, it takes many years of passing on the core of the best vines to guide the evolution to the finest grape possible. It can take generations and is not an easy task, which is why specific wines are so valued. This wine began to fade after four centuries, and was never considered a tourist attraction; until now! For the past 40 to 50 years, artisans have cultivated a resurgence of this unique delight which stands up to strong flavored foods such as meats and sharp cheeses
Montefalco rests high above the valleys and gentle rolling hills of the region of Umbria and one can see olive groves, the orderly rows of vineyards, and lush green all around. The town offers an old and mysterious medieval feel that feels somewhat untouched by the glossy world outside. Wineries dot the area, and as travelers begin to find this gem, both quaint little hotels and modern amenity filled hot spots for the younger crowd are popping up. Restaurants abound to highlight this fine wine, and attractions featuring local art, artisanal crafts, as well as treasured Medieval and Renaissance art offer plenty to see and do. The heart of Montefalco, the Piazza del Commune is a wonderful place to start as you explore the cobblestone streets, Gothic churches, and ancient stone walls. This sleepy town is a treasure just waiting to be appreciated
Narni, an ancient hill-town, sits high atop a plateau and hovers on the edge of a steep and narrow gorge of the Nera River in the province of Terni. Narni is at the center of Umbria and therefore very close to the geographic center of Italy itself. This ancient and medieval city offers glimpses of the Roman, Medieval and Renaissance eras. It is protected by the mighty fortress of Rocca and the River Nera. Dramatic to see as you approach, the gorge appears to be waterfalls of greenery and vines, and the walls of the city drape down the slopes like a necklace.
There is a wonderful example of Roman engineering in the base of a First Century bridge located in Narni. But don’t just stop with touring in town, because this heart of Umbria offers breathtaking countryside, dramatic cliffs, thrilling views, and the river winding on through. This town is accessible by train and a variety of accommodations are available to meet visitors’ preferences.
Norcia is a high-country town in the Southeast area of Umbria. Although it is on a wide plain up in the Apennines near some of the higher peaks, the town itself has wide and relatively flat streets making this an excellent walking town. It is known for its scenery, crisp fresh mountain air, hiking, mountaineering, and hunting. The hunting of wild boar has been a tradition making sausages, ham, capicola, salami, and other pork products their specialty. The town is also well known for black truffles (November to March), cheeses, and lentils making the savory local cuisine worth the trip.
This town is completely enclosed by a full circuit of walls that has survived intact from the 14 C. This makes Norcia, which is quite small, an easy and relaxing town for a stroll around the main sights. Away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and tourist traps, this town offers one a true opportunity to take in the history, the mountain scenery, the wonderful walking and hiking paths, and the delicious cuisine it has become famous for.
Spello gives you the chance to step back in time. This compact hill town became a Roman outpost in the 1st Century B.C. Enclosed within medieval town walls; there are three Roman Late Antique gates, named Porta Consolare, Porta di Venere and the Arch of Augustus, with traces of three more gates apparent. As you walk through the streets, you realize you are following in the footsteps of Constantine the Great. /p>
The amazing and wonderful “Festival of Infiorate” takes place in Spello on the ninth Sunday after Easter. It involves teams of thousands of locals working to create elaborate flower displays on the streets and sidewalks of this lovely village. Each is a beautiful and elaborate carpet exploding with color and the scents of the flowers. This tradition in Spello came from the timeless tradition of throwing flowers or flower petals in the path of the Priests as they process through town. In 1831 it was first documented that a new tradition of creating these murals on the ground from flowers happened. The Infiorate includes a whole night of work to create over sixty elaborate and breathtaking flower carpets on the Corpus Domini feast. It is a time of joy, celebration, and artistry.
This large hill town’s history precedes the traces of its Roman and Medieval pasts into the Bronze Age of Umbria. It sits in east-central Umbria, on a foothill of the Apennines at the head of a broad valley. The original Umbri Tribes built walls around this town in the 5th century B.C., which are still visible in some places. The city has a first-century Roman Amphitheatre, the 12th-century Duomo, 13th-century Ponte delle Torri aqueduct and the 14th-century hilltop fortress, Rocca Albornoziana.
Today Spoleto is best known for The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds.) Founded in 1958 by the famous opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti (Amahl and the Night Visitors), it is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July, featuring concerts, opera, dance, drama, visual arts and scientific roundtable discussions. If you love music, you will find a special connection in Spoleto.
Trevi is one of the most picturesque and least visited hill towns of Umbria, making the experience of visiting both peaceful and delightful. Trevi is well known across Italy for the high quality of its olive oil and holds a festival each fall to celebrate the olive harvest. The curious traveler will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Umbria and a labyrinth of winding streets dotted with artisanal shops, bars, and restaurants.
The capital city of both the central region of Umbria and the province of Perugia is the town by this same name. Perugia is a vibrant and flourishing city known as the “universities center.” Modern students from all over the world come to study the arts, sciences, literature, and history in centers of learning established as far back as 1308 when the University of Perugia was founded. It hosts approximately 35,000 students.
Perugia offers something for everyone to delight the senses. The Music Conservatory of Perugia was founded in 1788. Visitors come especially for the annual festivals and events: In July there is Umbria Jazz Festival, the Eurochocolate Festival in October with its many delicacies, and the International Journalism Festival in April. If you are seeking visual arts, both architecture and works of art abound. The famous painter, Pietro Vannucci, nicknamed Perugino, decorated the local Sala del Cambio with a beautiful series of frescoes. Eight of his pictures can also be admired in the National Gallery of Umbria.