All the inhabitants of Umbria say it: we have nothing to envy in Tuscany. If the Renaissance did not see the light of day in Perugia, but in Florence, it must be recognized that this landlocked territory has many options for a great stay. The quality of the services offered in terms of tourism is on the whole superior and at often more interesting prices. Umbria today offers a striking marriage between the tradition of the land and the richness of its villages.
Perugia and the North of Umbria, a natural and cultural gem
The tranquility that suits it so well makes it a preferred destination for all those who wish to know the meaning of the word rest. In the heart of Italy and recognized as being its green lung, Umbria has always been an obligatory stopover for the armies which have agitated history. The latter has shaped a plethora of villages, protected by ramparts and other medieval walls, on the slopes of the Apennine massif. If time has mostly caught them, their vestiges give a unique charm to the region. Each town has its share of surprises.
Honor, all honor, a journey through Umbria often begins with the region’s capital, Perugia . Architecturally and culturally, the Italian city crushes the competition in Umbria. Erected on hills with irregular shapes, it preserves its treasures in its historic center, a fascinating meeting point between the rural world and the urban world. Very international and very dynamic thanks to its universities (the oldest dates back to the XIII th) and the many students who animate it, Perugia remains one of the most pleasant to visit, far from the sometimes unpleasant bustle of Pisa or Florence. Welcoming, the city has always enjoyed a flattering reputation undoubtedly justified by the impression of power and mystery aroused by the enormous square blocks of Etruscan walls, 22 centuries old and behind which are housed five distinct historic districts. Structured in this way, for much longer than Rome, with its 7 gates, including the imposing Pulchra or Augustus gate, Perugia prides itself on its past and its distinction. But if the city hides many architectural treasures , it is also good to enjoy its many festivals and the
Then to get off the beaten track, we head quickly to the charming Gubbio, at the top of Umbria on the map. Much less crowded than Perugia, the city deserves a stopover because it is the quintessence of the medieval Umbrian city. Gubbio is not very rich in works of art, but is worth for the uniqueness of its architectural ensemble, the good state of conservation of the dwellings and the delicate provincial atmosphere that reigns there. Its history is particularly old and merges with that of the oldest populations of Umbria. With its ocher-colored buildings, towers and palaces arranged on the slopes of Mount Ugino, the city presents contrasting aspects. The structure of the buildings is mainly Romanesque, with pointed arches, typical of the city. The cityscape is dominated by the mighty pier of thepalazzo dei Consoli , symbol of medieval Gubbio. It is one of the most beautiful public palaces in Italy. Gubbio therefore deserves all the attention of the visitor, whether passing through Umbria for a few days or more. Tuesday could be one of those days, with the market taking over the city.
Finally, make way for another gem of the region, Lake Trasimeno . Whether in Castiglione del Lago or Tuoro, the shallow Lake Trasimeno is the mystery map of Umbria. The outlines of the islands of Maggiore, Minore and Polvese form the gentle horizon which serves as a backdrop to ancient towns and fishing villages. Often it is only a few houses hung on a rock that overlook the lake. Elsewhere it is cultivated countryside, old farms and beautiful side roads that cross valleys and woods, expanses of olive trees and wheat fields. A slow wandering on the lake is advisable, around and beyond, where, guided by instinct, authentic discoveries are to be expected.
In the South, visits and pilgrimage to Assisi
It will then be time to head for the south of the region. Endowed with lush nature, graceful landscapes and rich in cities of art, untouched gems still today, this part of Umbria has a lot to offer. Particularly prosperous in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it attracts great artists; thus Assisi and Orvieto conserve works by Fra Angelico, Simone Martini, Cimabue and Giotto. But this land is above all marked by the great personality of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In Umbria, Assisi is therefore an inevitable stopover, endowed with an exceptional architectural and historical heritage. A visit to this Italian city is essential to understand the impact of the Papacy on the region and to discover the frescoes by Giotto in the basilica. It is difficult not to leave Assisi satisfied, even when the waits are long. Because the city has retained a deeply medieval aspect, through its buildings and its urban fabric. The overall plan of the Roman city was almost completely revised during the reconstructions of the Middle Ages. A fascinating succession of terraces marks the climb to the top of the hill where the city stands.the Rocca Maggiore , rebuilt in 1367, and the Rocca Minore. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the city every year in order to better approach the revelation of Saint Francis and all of them discover religious buildings dedicated to other saints.
You will also have to take a look at Orvieto. Less touristy than its neighbors, the city has retained its authentic charm and its cathedral is worth the detour. As perched on a tuff spur, it is even one of the most beautiful towns in Italy! Orvieto appears to the traveler in all its majesty, dominating a landscape of vineyards as far as the eye can see. You shouldn’t go into the city by car, but enjoy the ascent by funicular. Every corner conceals treasures: incomparable frescoes by Luca Signorelli, Etruscan remains, alleys and caves … one can only be amazed!
Good restaurants in perspective
The South of Umbria is therefore conducive to a cultural journey, but also gourmet, because the “green heart of Italy” is rich in tasty regional cuisine and produces excellent wines. Moreover, to take advantage of it, head to the Valnerina. Located in the south-east of Umbria, this area conceals gastronomic treasures recognized throughout the world, with its truffles, cheeses, cold meats and the unique taste of its oils. Norcia is the nerve center, in the heart of a lush countryside. Still sheltered from the main tourist trails, the Valnerina is an excellent choice to taste the sweet tranquility of Umbria, even in August. Its 15,000 inhabitants can be proud of the health of their land, its flavors and its hospitality.
When? It is advisable to visit Umbria in spring and at the end of summer: the most pleasant months are April, May, June and September. Autumn is quite rainy, and in winter it is not uncommon for it to snow. High summer is not recommended for people who find it difficult to endure high temperatures.