The region of Umbria is well known for its well preserved medieval towns. There are so many gems to get absorbed in to. Umbria is situated between Rome and Florence and draws on their architectural influences. Many of the towns are on hilltops with stunning views over the rolling hills, their winding streets are great to explore with many restaurants and cafes along the way. This region is less well known that its neighbouring Tuscany and generally attracts less visitors, making for a relaxing and authentic holiday experience.
Umbria boasts an enviable climate and as such, the land is fertile and lush. Many delicacies are produced in this region and have been cultivated over many years. One of the region’s largest exports is the extra-virgin olive oil. Olive groves are visible as far as the eye can see and the oil tastes like no other. There is an olive oil museum in Umbria too, to learn about the age-old process of harvesting and producing the oil. The area’s unique microclimate and its rich soil and is also perfect for vineyards and Umbria produces many fine wines. Vineyard tours are very popular.
The River Tiber meanders through Umbria and brings a wealth of opportunities for fun. Kayaking is very popular on the river as is canyoning. Both can be fast and furious, so a specialist guide is always recommended. The Tiber Valley and its rolling hills are also ideal for hiking and mountain biking. Each season delights with wild flowers there are many walking and cycling routes in the area.
Umbria is also perfect for paragliding and flights can be made directly over the local towns for an incredible bird’s eye view.
Umbria is Italy’s biggest producer of truffles. The Umbrian mountains, forests and climate lends itself well to this hard to find fungus. Dogs are used to sniff out the truffles from the inside tree roots and it takes a specially trained and keen nose. Truffles are rare and therefore expensive but it’s the white truffles that command the highest prices, black truffles are the more common but still highly sort after. Truffles are often used for their oil and made in to tapenade or just simply shaved on to a dish. The summer is prime truffle hunting season and it is great fun to join a hunt, many of which are organised by local families in the area. Add truffles to pasta for an ultimate and decadent Italian dinner.
A UNESCO World Heritage Town, Assisi is uniquely beautiful and one of the most wonderful examples of a medieval town. The birthplace of Saint Francis, one of Italy’s patron saints. Hundreds of people make pilgrimages every year to visit the Basilica where Saint Francis is buried. The huge two storey church dates to the 13th century and was built shortly after saint Francis’ death. It is a huge 80 metres long and 60 metres wide. It is imposing on Umbria’s landscape and can be seen for miles. The Basilica houses a vast collection of art and artefacts and is fascinating to see. Allow plenty of time when visiting Assisi, there is so much to see, admire and absorb.
Gubbio is the oldest medieval town in Umbria and is situated at the foot of Mount Ignio. Visitors enjoy riding the Colle Eletto cable car to the top of the mountain which takes about six minutes, to take in the most incredible views of the whole region. Gubbio itself is a fascinating mixture of Gothic architecture with narrow winding streets. Each May sees the Feast of Ceri, otherwise known as the Race of the Candles, which attracts hundreds of people to the town. Three teams race up the hill holding five-metre-tall candles (they are actually wooden posts) to see who wins. Each team is a different colour and represents their own patron saint. The team that shows the most skill to get to the top of the hill is deemed the winner.
The capital of the Umbria region, the university town of Perugia is another medieval wonder. The historic centre boasts a cathedral which is a prime example of Gothic architecture and dates to the 15th century. Other points of interest include Fontana Maggiore which is a medieval fountain made of marble. Carso Vannucci is the main street in the town and is lined with cafes, shops and bars. Street entertainers make the atmosphere very special and light hearted. Perugia is well known for its chocolate making with Baci chocolates being extremely popular in both Italy and worldwide. Perugia plays host to a chocolate festival every year.
The heat and the amount of tourists are both at their highest during the summer months of July and August. The weather is still pleasant in April, June, September and October so this is the ideal time to visit if you wish to beat the crowds.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Italy but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy.
The currency in Umbria is the Euro (EUR).
The main language spoken is Italian.