Umbria

 

Umbria, also referred to as the green heart of Italy, is the perfect place to escape from routine, discover art and history, and taste traditional cuisine. There is no better place to connect with nature during every season of the year. Hidden paths and ancient rail tracks are the setting of many activities, from trekking to horseback riding and cycling, that will amaze lovers of outdoor sports.

Grown-ups and kids alike will love Umbria’s enchanting, peculiar villages and stunning landscapes.

Nestled on the slopes of Mt. Subasio, Assisi is known for being the hometown of the saint patron of Italy, Saint Francis, and for being praised by Dante in his Paradiso. Nonetheless, it is a true artistic gem: not to be missed is a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis and its frescoes by Giotto, declared a Unesco World Heritage site. A pleasant walk through the fascinating streets of Assisi will give you the chance to visit a number of beautiful churches, such as the basilica of St Clare, St Rufino’s cathedral and St Peter’s abbey, but also to gaze at the magnificent glimpses of the surrounding valleys. Each year during the first week of May, the town celebrates the return of spring and the rebirth of nature during the festival Calendimaggio.

Proceeding along the valleys of Assisi, you will find the city of Bastia, whose name comes from the word “bastioni” (bastions), due to the massive military works that in 1319 slowed down the march of Perugia’s army. The main points of interest are St Angelo’s church and the Rocca Baglionesca, a medieval fortress. The main cultural event in Bastia takes place in September: the Palio de San Michele is a competition between the four quarters of the town that includes parades, games and sports challenges.

Just a few kilometres away, the Etruscan city of Perugia stands fiercely on a hill. Its highest point is Porta Sole (literally, “Door of the sun”), one of the most ancient quarters of the city, together with Porta S. Angelo, Porta S. Susanna, Porta Eburnea and Porta S. Pietro. Strolling along the streets of Perugia you can admire bell towers, churches, cathedrals, historical buildings and museums, such as the Galleria Nazionale, where masterpieces by Pinturicchio, Perugino and Piero della Francesca are exhibited, amongst many others.

You can easily stumble upon many interesting events all year long. In October, chocoholics will love Eurochocolate, a huge chocolate fair taking place in the city historical centre with national and international exhibitors. Music lovers will surely enjoy Umbria Jazz, one of the world’s biggest jazz festivals that takes place every year in July and animates the streets and alleys of the city with music and events. Perugia is also home of the International Journalism Festival, a festival held each year in April that features debates, workshops, interviews and panels revolving around the world of journalism, media and communication in general.

Lake Trasimeno is part of the Living Lakes Network since 2006. The vineyards growing along its shores produce a typical wine called “Colli del Trasimeno” (literally, “Hills of the Trasimeno”). Passignano sul Trasimeno is a village still enclosed in medieval ramparts and located on a promontory overlooking the northern shore of the lake. Thanks to its position, the pier of Passignano is the best one to reach the islands of Lake Trasimeno.

Any wine enthusiast should visit Montefalco, also called “the balcony of Umbria” because of the 360° overview it offers on the hills from Perugia to Spoleto. Amongst the various events taking place in this charming village surrounded by vineyards, we recommend Terre del Sagrantino (“Sagrantino’s Lands”), an exhibition of the finest local wine and food products taking place during the Easter period, and Cantine Aperte (“Open Cellars”), two whole days in May during which local wineries offer tours and tastings of their products. In August, Montefalco is the stage for many musical and theatrical events during a Reinassance revival festival where the four quarters of the village compete for the conquest of the Golden Falcon.

Not far from Montefalco you will find Bevagna, one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. This quaint village is largely known for the Mercato delle Gaite, a revival of daily life during the Middle Ages in the years 1250-1350. The village is divided into four gaite, i.e. quarters, and each one of them tries to best represent the typical medieval life. Amongst the various events there are a culinary challenge and an archery competition.

Descending from the hill of Montefalco you will reach another notable town in the Umbrian valleys, Foligno. This city is also called “the centre of the world” because it is located exactly at the centre of Italy. Its prestige derives from the fact that here the first book in the Italian language was printed, “The Divine Comedy” by Dante, and today Foligno is the main communication centre of Umbria. Some of the most relevant historical buildings are Palazzo Trinci, situated in the main square Piazza della Repubblica, Palazzo Comunale and the cathedral of St. Feliciano. Twice a year the city animates with the Giostra della Quintana, a competition set in the 17th century during which the ten quarters of Foligno take part in a Renaissance joust with their horse and knight.

Foligno is home of Primi d’Italia, a national festival that celebrates pasta and first courses in every shape and form. The city is also part of the network Città dell’Olio (“Cities of the Olive Oil”), together with two other towns in Umbria, Spello and Spoleto.

Spello, a village surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, is the location of a huge olive oil festival in December and of the traditional Infiorata in June, during which the alleys of this charming village are paved with stunning artworks made of flower petals to celebrate the religious feast of Corpus Christi. The village is an example of roman and Renaissance architecture and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore houses frescoes by Bernardino di Betto, best known as Pinturicchio.

Spoleto is a true treasure chest. Within its ancient walls, it holds a magnificent cathedral erected in 1067, the basilica of St Salvatore (one of the most beautiful examples of Romanesque architecture, declared World Heritage site by Unesco) and the Rocca Albornoziana fortress, which contains frescoes from the 15th century and overlooks the valley. However, the most iconic symbol of the town is the majestic Ponte delle Torri bridge, which Goethe described in its Italienische Reise. Together with Norcia and Cascia, Spoleto is one of the main centres of Valnerina, the valley created by the river Nera. Norcia is a beautiful town that reached its peak of splendour during the Middle Ages. There you will find a perfect combination of nature, sport, typical cuisine and art. You could go on a relaxing tour along the ancient railway connecting Spoleto and Norcia – you will be amazed by the sight of farmers at work, small herds grazing on the fields and the river flowing by, with its renowned trout farms. If you are looking for an active day in the outdoors, the exciting bike paths in the woods of the Sibillini Mountains are the perfect option for you. You could also go rafting on the Nera River, or maybe take a horseback ride on the Castelluccio Great Plain, the widest karst plateau in Europe, where each summer the blooming of lentil flowers offers a spectacular, colourful view. Norcia does not simply offers great outdoors activities: all year long, you will find many folkloristic events, such as the Pasquarella in January, the celebration of St Benedict of Nursia in March, or the Fauni on December 9th, i.e. great bonfires in the various squares of the city. Norcia also offers important culinary events, for example the Nero Norcia, a festival celebrating the renowned local black truffle. Not far from Norcia lies Cascia, a small city known for the religious cult of St Rita, an Augustinian nun celebrated on May 22nd.

A big event typical of Umbria and known worldwide is the Corsa dei Ceri or “St Ubaldo Day”, a big celebration of the saint patron of Gubbio. This event is so important that in 1973 the three enormous wooden pedestals supporting the statues of the three saints of the city became the official symbol of the region Umbria. The celebration consists of a race along the streets and alleys of Gubbio: starting from the gothic Palazzo dei Consoli, which is now a museum housing the Eugubine Tables, the three Ceri then pass along the churches of St Francis and St John and end their race in the Basilica of St Ubaldo, on the top of Mt Ingino, where the remains of the Saint patron are still kept.

On the northern end of Umbria lies Città di Castello. In this medieval city, you will breathe art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, up to this day. Città di Castello is also an important religious centre, witnessed by the presence of numerous monasteries in the area that can be visited on thematic tours.

Considered by many “the most liveable city in the world”, Todi overlooks the whole Tiber valley. This stunning town is a true medieval gem, and its main square Piazza del Popolo is one of the most peculiar Communal architectures of Umbria. Not far from the square, the church of San Fortunato, consecrated to the patron saint of the town, houses the remains of the poet Jacopone da Todi in its crypt. Todi cathedral is another marvellous church, built in the 12th century over the remains of a temple consecrated to the god Apollo.

Umbria is all this and much more, and thanks to our 24/7 webcams you will discover the main square of our enchanting towns.

We are all waiting to welcome you in our beautiful region.