Italy is one of the great tourist destinations, and cities like Rome and Florence have conquered the hearts of visitors from all over the world with their timeless beauty. But there’s much more to Italy than this, and less visited regions such as Umbria, at the centre of the country, offer travellers a different and no less attractive perspective. Umbria lies in the Tiber river basin, surrounded by hills and valleys where water is a defining feature of the landscape; it’s where you’ll find the Cascata delle Marmore (Marmore’s Falls), considered the most beautiful waterfall in Europe. Also known as the “green heart of Italy,” its villages and scenery are attracting a growing number of visitors.
Arriving from the coast, our first stop could be the city of Orvieto, with its historic buildings and museums, as well as the famous cathedral, the Duomo, known for its distinctive mosaic façade and regarded as one of the most spectacular medieval buildings in Italy.
The town of Assisi, world-famous as the birthplace of Saint Francis, is also well worth a visit. The 13th century Basilica of Saint Francis, which houses the saint’s tomb, is its greatest attraction. Roman ruins, medieval squares and the old city walls in the centre add to the appeal of this popular Christian pilgrimage destination.
Another walled city, this time completely encircled, is Spoleto, a large town with a wealth of fascinating sights, including the Ponte delle Torri. Its annual arts festival, the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds), held at the end of June, attracts big crowds.
The picturesque town of Todi enjoys magnificent views over the countryside form its medieval walls. While interesting, its architecture takes second place to peace and tranquillity and a chance to appreciate the natural surroundings.
Gubbio, on the lower slopes of Mount Ingino, is a medieval town that boasts a huge variety of Gothic and Renaissance buildings and monuments, as well as the Roman amphitheatre on the outskirts of the town, with stunning views.
On Lake Trasimeno there are three small islands with beautiful beaches, which can be reached by ferry. The nearby town of Castiglione del Lago has a medieval centre and a castle on the banks of the lake.
Southeastern Umbria is where you will find Norcia, a village nestling among the hills of Monti Sibillini, surrounded by 14th century walls. It makes a perfect base for mountain hikes and walks, and is famous for the quality of its cured sausages.
For those looking for something a little different, Ferentillo, in the south of the region, is home to the Mummy Museum. Beneath the Church of San Stefano, in a 12th century crypt, you’ll find a collection of mummified bodies, some of them up to four centuries old.
We conclude our tour of Umbria in the region’s capital, Perugia, a city with a vibrant cultural life that is the ideal starting point for visits to the villages in the surrounding hills. During the summer, the city hosts a world-famous jazz festival, and in the autumn its attractions include a festival that celebrates chocolate.
Its geography makes the capital the region’s most attractive destination: a beautiful city with a fascinating historic centre, which is also accessible by the city’s eco-conscious MiniMetrò “people mover” rail system. In the centre, the Piazza IV Novembre is the site of some of the city’s most prominent buildings, including the Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral and the Fontana Maggiore.
Among its cultural sights, highlights include the Perugina Chocolate Factory and Museum, which offers free tastings of the famous Bacio Perugina, and is a magnet for foodies and chocoholics alike.
With its privileged location, Perugia is the ideal place to relax and get away from it all, and makes the perfect base for trips and tours of the region.