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A step back in time, an escape from the rush of modern life, an echo of a bygone era, all of these phrases help to perfectly sum up Umbria. It’s own bubble, bordering neither the sea or another country, it’s a magical region of truly authentic Italy.
Expect isolated hilltop towns nestled among rolling hills, built there in medieval times and looking as if they haven’t changed in all those years. Wandering through their streets you’ll see residents rolling pasta by hand, neighbours walking freely into friends’ houses, and a sense of community that is dying out all over the world.
Then there’s the natural beauty and the fantastic food it produces, as dogs hunt for truffles, wild boar roam and vines grow in the incredible countryside. The result? Homely and exquisitely balanced pasta and stews, combined with wholesome, world-class wines.
Heart-stoppingly beautiful, shrouded in spirituality and centuries of history, Assisi holds itself atop its hillside with a true air of dignity. The birthplace of St Francis of Assisi, it’s a town of winding medieval streets that climb passed Roman temples, 13th-century basilicas and gorgeous, pink-tinged churches.
When dusk falls and the town glows a soft gold, when a perfect silence descends over Assisi and the green, wooded hillside of Monte Subasio deepens and melts into the diming light, you can see how a 12th century saint would be born here.
An irridescent blue-green splash on the rolling hillsides, Lago Trasimero is where Umbria drips into Tuscany, and represents an incredible opportunity to sit back, get off the beaten track and enjoy some deliciously lazy lake life.
Surrounded by shady olive groves and stands of cypress trees, vineyards and mighty oaks, there are hundreds of hidden trails snaking off into the countryside, linking up the picturesque towns that dot the shoreline.
Imposing, graceful, ancient and downright stunning, Spoleto is a portal to the past like no other. Once one of the most important towns in Italy, this collection of Romanesque churches, 12th-century cathedrals and ancient aqueducts and incredibly well-preserved amphitheatres is a must-see for anyone visiting Umbria.
The town is dominated by its magnificent medieval fortress, which presides over the town in a similar fashion to the looming, snow-capped Apennines in the distance. A trip to Spoleto is a trip to the real Italy, and an opportunity you simply have to take.
When is the best time to go?
Your best bet for visiting Umbria is, like Tuscany, in the Spring and Autumn. Although not as busy as its more popular neighbour, you’re still more likely to encounter crowds of tourists and baking temperatures in the summer, particularly in August.
In the winter, Umbria is beautiful and quiet. However, as it’s a little less popular than Tuscany, you may find many shops, restaurants and attractions closed, so plan with care. That said, the snow-dusted streets and local hangouts will be all yours, and the area can feel truly magical.
Top 10 Must See Umbria Sites
- Basilica de San Francesco
- Duomo di Orvieto
- Isola Maggiore
- Marmore Falls
- Palazzo dei Priori
- Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria
- Funivia Colle Eletto
- Narni Sotterranea
- Pozzo di Saint Patricio
- Ponte del Torri