Umbria is unlike the rest of the country. Often it’s called The Green Heart of Italy and Land of Saint Francis for good reason. Unlike all the other regions in central Italy, Umbria doesn’t border the ocean and has a smaller population. These central Italian lands are lesser-known than other regions like Tuscany, but hold plenty of charms and undiscovered treasures of their own.
Umbria, Italy’s ancient northern region, has always been one of the country’s most beautiful and charming regions. Umbrians are known throughout Italy as being some of the warmest, most welcoming people in the entire country. If you travel to this region, here are 9 of the best spots to visit while you’re there.
An unforgettable tourist experience can only be achieved by visiting the upper town, located on a spur of tufaceous rock overlooking the valley. Featuring magnificent portals and bas-reliefs adorning the facade, the cathedral is one of the most beautiful sacred buildings in Italy.
The San Patrizio well was constructed as a source of water delivery during sieges, but today it serves as a leading tourist attraction with its two helical staircases. In Orvieto, beneath the ground there is a labyrinth of tunnels and caves dug over a period of 2500 years.
Todi, too, is a medieval town perched on a steep hill, with a sloping main square. The magnificent Piazza del Popolo, which is surrounded by the Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo del Capitano, the Duomo, and the Pinacoteca. The continuity of style and architecture offers great charm in all seasons.
Among the best examples of Renaissance architecture in Umbria is the white church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, designed by Bramante in the early 15th century.
With quaint medieval villages, breathtaking sunsets reflected in its waters, Trasimeno lake is on your list of must-see locations. For those who love outdoor activities, Umbria’s green region is an authentic paradise, and the lake area is the perfect place for sun-filled active days.
Castiglione del Lago is only minutes from Lake Trasimeno and situated on the shores of this very serene body of water. At Acqua Dolce Lounge Bar, enjoy an aperitif as the sun sets over the lake. Located in the village of Monte del Lago and right in front of Lake of Chiusi, it offers spectacular views of the sunset with a stunning perch for those ‘golden hours’.
You can enjoy a visual retracement of the history of a place as you stroll along Spello’s main street, which begins at the base of the town. An olive tree adorns the top of a medieval tower flanking the Consular gate, a symbol of peace and of olive oil, the most typical local product.
As Spello became an independent municipality later in the twelfth century, it underwent an era of intense artistic growth, enriched by works by Pinturicchio and Perugino. Located on the beautiful Umbrian plain, Spello is surrounded by centuries-old olive groves that produce high-quality oil. You can sample tasty regional cold cuts and excellent Umbrian wines along the main street, or stop for a meal in one of the excellent restaurants.
Part of what makes Spoleto distinct is its Festival dei Due Mondi, an internationally acclaimed arts event. The square hosting the event is a long, triangular shape which is adjacent to the Cathedral and it can be seen from there. It’s a marvelous example of medieval Romanesque art.
Besides the Albornoz fortress, Spoleto has a grandiose bridge, the Ponte delle Torri, built around the thirteenth century as an aqueduct.
Stand in that spot, and you’ll feel like time stopped in Assisi–probably the most important artistic, cultural, and religious Italian destination. This small medieval town displays all the features of a traditional Umbrian borgo: positioned on top of a hill overlooking the valley, small in size and retaining authenticity to this day.
Because of Saint Francis and his contributions to world history, Assisi is by far the most popular village in Umbria, attracting the greatest number of tourists. In this place, Saint Francis, patron saint of Italy, received his call and set off to reform the Catholic Church. Don’t miss: rocca Maggiore, the Basilica of San Francesco, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and the Temple of Minerva. Restaurants, tea rooms, and shops with Umbrian delicacies line the narrow streets of the center, along with souvenir shops.
Atop a hill, this town is situated around its main square, which is overlooked by a grandly arcaded Palazzo del Comune and several restaurants. benozzo Bozzoli painted the frescoes of the old church of Saint Francis in Rome, which is now a museum complex.
The second reason is the discovery of Sagrantino grapes. These typically dry wine grapes can also be used in sweet wines and then sold as the red wine Montefalco.
In antiquity, the Etruscans refounded a pre-existing Umbrian settlement to create a central capital of their kingdom, the city becoming one of their main economic and political hubs. After the Romans took control of Perugia, its population grew, and between the 11th and 13th centuries it experienced the golden age of its most recognized monuments.
The major itineraries for visitors to see are the historical center set inside the Etruscan walls, the Cathedral, and the frescoes by the Italian Renaissance painter Perugino. The underground Rocca Paolina, built during the mid-16th century under the papal state, is really awe-inspiring. Another attraction not to miss is the National Gallery of Umbria, with its renowned collection of works by artists such as Il Pinturicchio and Il Perugino, which date back to the thirteenth century to the nineteenth.
In the north of the region, you will find the charming medieval town of Gubbio. There are few views that can match those from Gubbio’s Piazza Grande, the main square surrounded by the medieval Palazzo dei Consoli and the Palazzo del Podestà.
On your next visit to Gubbio, check out the ruins of the ancient Roman theater; it’ll give you a great opportunity to appreciate its originality. Gubbio is also the perfect place for visitors to eat some of the finest Umbrian cuisine around.