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Long overshadowed by Tuscany just to the north, understated Umbria can easily hold its own against its limelight-stealing neighbor. Venture into Italy’s heartland to explore rolling hills that resemble Giotto’s masterpieces come to life, hilltop villages anchored by richly frescoed basilicas, rustic trattorias serving traditional fare, and postcard-perfect landscapes from the shores of Lake Trasimeno to the dramatic Apennine peaks. Umbria isn’t all idyllic scenery and sleepy hamlets, however. From spring to fall, top things to do include raucous village celebrations and world-class music and art festivals.
Winters in Umbria are long and wet—there’s a reason that the region is known as one of Italy’s greenest. With the first warm days of spring, Umbrian villages come to life with seasonal celebrations, from the medieval-themed Calendimaggio in Assisi to the flower-strewn streets of Spello for the Infiorate. Summer brings Umbria Jazz, one of Italy’s top music festivals, and fall is the peak season for food festivals celebrating olive oil, truffles, and other regional delicacies.
It’s quick and easy to travel by train between the main towns along the Umbrian Valley, including Spoleto, Spello, Assisi, and Perugia. Getting to far-flung destinations like Orvieto, Gubbio, and Lake Trasimeno by public transportation can be more of a challenge, however, and a rental car is your best bet for exploring the region without the hassle and delays of local buses or trains.
One of Umbria’s under-the-radar local specialties is porchetta, a whole, deboned pig flavored with an aromatic seasoning of fresh rosemary, sage, garlic, and black pepper, then slowly roasted on a revolving spit until the rind is crackling and the meat buttery. You won’t find this delicacy in restaurants, however. Instead, look for white porchetta street trucks parked by the side of the road or at the morning markets, and join the line for a sandwich piled high with freshly-sliced pork.
Umbria is considered one of the most authentic regions in central Italy because it is largely untouched by the mass tourism of neighboring Tuscany. It’s known for sleepy medieval hill towns, lush rolling countryside, and rustic cuisine centered on local olive oil, black truffles, heirloom pork, and bold red wines....More
Umbria’s rural villages are spread out, so you’ll need at least three days to explore the region. Begin by visiting its most famous towns: Assisi and Perugia. On day two, head south to take in Orvieto. End your trip by village-hopping around Lake Trasimeno or through the Montefalco wine country....More
Umbria has long been a rural hub of farmers, foragers, and hunters. Its simple, hearty dishes reflect this local history, with heaping plates of homemade pasta topped with wild mushrooms, truffles, or game ragù. Meals often feature freshly pressed olive oil, flavorful pork sausage and salami, and tannic red wines....More
Umbria’s headline attraction is the medieval hill town of Assisi, birthplace of Saint Francis and home to the basilica built over his tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other A-listers include the handsome provincial capital of Perugia, Orvieto and its soaring gothic cathedral, and the placid shores of Lake Trasimeno....More
It depends on your priorities. While no region can compete with Tuscany’s capital city of Florence, Umbria matches its famous neighbor when it comes to charming hill towns, sweeping landscapes, and unforgettable local cuisine. Umbria also has far fewer tourists and more affordable prices for hotels and dining than Tuscany....More
With its villages approachable in size and pristine natural parks, Umbria is an ideal destination for families. Popular things to do with kids include visiting the Marmore Waterfalls, taking a dip in Lake Trasimeno, exploring the crumbling castles above Assisi and Castiglione del Lago, and rafting down the Nera River....More
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