Umbria: Favorite Places
Original, warm, traditional: the "green heart" of Italy lies between Florence and Rome and has, somewhat magically, consistently been able to elude mass tourism. Often, a few kilometres is all it takes before the panorama changes completely: Fields alternate with the rolling hills of sprawling vineyards, silvery shimmering olive groves and mighty holm oak forests give way to typical cypress avenues and the colossal mountain ranges of Monti Sibillini. Tiny villages and small towns are scattered in between. Exciting sites bear witness to the Roman-Etruscan past.
Most important regions & places at a glance:
Umbria © Hotel Villa Monte Solare
Border region Umbria-Tuscany: Etruscan influences, Vintage cars & Wine route
Up close and personal with Tuscany, Etruscan history in the town of Chiusi and motorcycle treasures in Porto. Take the Strada del Vino through Umbria and Tuscany.
Etruscan influences: In the ancient Etruscan city of Chiusi, which was once one of the most important Etruscan centers, you can visit one of the oldest Tuscan archaeological museums housing Etruscan sarcophagi. Numerous Etruscan tombs are located between Chiusi and Lake Chiusi.
Old-timers & Motorcycles: On the old border road to Tuscany: the Lago di Chiusi which leads the way to the small and rather inconspicuous town of Porto, a private collection of nearly 500 motorcycles makes the hearts of motorcycle freaks beat faster – and ready to get on the road! In addition, many vintage treasures and the indestructible Piaggio Ape. Once a year in August, a meet-up for vintage car enthusiasts takes place and afterwards they all go for a drive together.
Wine Route: In the border area stretching from Umbria to Tuscany, the wine route leads through the wine hills of Umbria, then through to Tuscany. Visiting the winery of Fiammetta is sure to be a unique experience. This winery produces excellent organic wine, and the labels are hand painted. The winery of Bertaio in Casamaggiore between the Lago di Montepulciano and Lago Trasimeno offers excellent wine as well as delicious Pranzo (lunch) with wine tasting.
Umbria North: Natural diversity, Outdoor sports & History
Umbria’s north is multifaceted when it comes to nature and culture: Monte Cucco is a paradise for hikers, climbers and paragliders. The Grotta del Cucco delights speleologists, while the city of Gubbio enthrals medieval fans.
Medieval flair & Craftsmanship: The Basilica Ubaldo towers over Gubbio. The medieval flair of the place is omnipresent and takes visitors on a journey through time, and many small shops with ceramics and blacksmithing demonstrate what the city is famous for.
Mountain scenery & Panoramas: The mountain massif of the more than 1,500m high Monte Cucco offers uplifting sights and breath-taking panoramic views, the nature park is home to a diverse wildlife.
Hiking, Cross-country skiing & Waterfalls: Monte Cucco & National Park – a wealth of opportunities for sports enthusiasts: over 30 well-marked hiking routes, which cross the national park across 120km, and cross-country trails in winter. The canyon of the Rio Freddo lures mountain climbers with more than 20 waterfalls over a 4km route.
Hang gliding & Paragliding: Hang gliders and paragliders can expect heavenly departures from Monte Cucco, Italy’s number one air sporting spot. Monte Cucco, at 1,566m, is one of the highest mountains in the Apennines and offers ideal conditions for taking off thanks to strong winds.
Caves: Speleologists love the Grotta di Monte Cucco, one of the largest and most fascinating cave systems in Europe boasting a length of 30km, depths of 923m, and a constant temperature of 6°C.
Umbria center: Art, Water sports & Wine
Lago Trasimeno is the "blue eye" of Umbria and a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, nature lovers and cyclists. Hiking trails along the site of the Hannibal Battle on Lake Trasimeno. In the footsteps of the painter Il Perugino in his birthplace Città della Pieve. Sagrantino wine in Montefalco. Enjoyment instead of driving pleasure: wine from the legendary sports car manufacturer Lamborghini in Panicarola.
Lake, Island & Water sports: Unforgettable moments: Sunset on the largest lake in Umbria. Swimming, surfing, gliding by sailboat or setting sail for the dreamy fishing island of Isola Maggiore. Delightful moments with fresh Trasimeno fish: In the small village of Borghetto, near the shores of Lake Trasimeno, a nondescript "trattoria" on the market square offers excellent fish dishes. On the Isola Maggiore, you can try some home-made cooking in the garden of L’Oso, right on the lakeshore.
Cycling routes: Ideal terrain for cyclists on well-marked paths. You can either ride along the lakeshore (60km) and circle Lake Trasimeno or watch the hilly countryside roll by on secluded, quiet roads. Mountain bikers traverse the area on sign-posted routes. Everything is graded according to difficulty levels here, so everything is possible – even high performance trekking.
Historical location: Castiglione: Kite enthusiasts from five continents gather for the international festival of kites and hot air balloons, the "Coloriamo i cielli" - a picturesque sight, just like the village on a peninsula with a medieval core, enclosed by a high fortification wall. The fortress offers stunning views over the lake. You can find loads of Umbrian specialties in many small shops in the piazza. The best ice cream: Gelati from Bruno’s own production on the main mile.
Wine Center & The sweet life: The Orvieto - Torgiano - Montefalco wine chain: home to the most famous wines: Orvieto with the famous Classico, Torgiano with the wines of the Lungarotti Wine House and the associated Wine and Olive Oil Museum. The divine Sagrantino comes from Montefalco, whereas the wine that has won the most awards in the world is made by Montioni. When you think of Lamborghini, your first thought is luxury cars that hold cult status, but true connoisseurs know about Lamborghini wines: After the sale of his company in 1972, Ferruccio Lamborghini devoted himself to viticulture. Treat yourself to Fiammetta organic wine on the eastern shore of Lake Lago or a sophisticated glass of Bertaio. For visitors with a sweet tooth: GMB is a unique and unusual place hidden in the industrial area of the small town of Carráia, where you will find a great selection of fantastic cakes and the finest patisserie to boot.
Eastern Umbria: Regional delicacies, Extreme sports & Breath-taking nature
Valnerina region: Valleys and gorges traversed by both tranquil and fast-flowing rivers. Natural Park Monti Sibillini with Europe’s highest mountain village Castelluccio. Truffle and gourmet paradise Norcia. Rafting on the Nera, hang gliding or hiking on Monti Sibillini not too far away from Marche.
Rafting, Water sports & Hiking: The regions that are undoubtedly the main attractions for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers are located here. The Valnerina, the narrow valley of the Nera, is a paradise for water sports: rafting on the Nera, gentler canoeing and inflatable rafting on the tributaries. Spectacular views are guaranteed with a hike up Monti Sibillini to the legendary Lago di Pilato glacier lake. There are several launching spots in Castelluccio where hang gliders can take off in altitude differences of up to 1000m.
Regional products: In Norcia, gourmets are in seventh truffle heaven, enjoying the tiny and tasty lentils from the plateau of Castelluccio, meat specialties of the region or fabulous honey from the Valnerina Valley. In the streets of Norcia, the delicacies of the area can be purchased at any number of shops, or you can tuck in at one of the many taverns in the area.
Southern Umbria: Tiber valley & Medieval towns
Between the medieval towns of Todi and Orvieto: natural paradise of Lake Corbara, created by the damming of the Tiber. Home to exquisite wines; authentic Umbrian cuisine in Titignano. Umbria’s Cinema Dream Factory lies to the east of the steel city of Terni.
Winding roads & Tiber Valley: If you enjoy winding roads, you will love the Tiber River Valley where fun and pure romance combine. A wildly romantic panoramic ride leads from Orvieto to Todi. The route through bizarre mountain formations and steep walls is adventurous, superseded by landscapes with deciduous trees and forests on the way to Lago di Corbara, a lake formed by the damming of the Tiber, on whose slopes great wines grow. The return trip to Orvieto is just as adventurous and leads over Mandeleto and Prado. On the route, small villages and towns from the Middle Ages greet visitors again and again. Fattoria in Titignano is the perfect spot for anyone who loves authentic Umbrian cuisine.
Waterfall & Rafting: The Cascata delle Marmore is majestic and dreamy, boasting the highest waterfall in Europe at 165m high. Marmore offers visitors an exciting adrenaline rush: Conquering the difficulty level 4 rapids in a rafting boat.
Assisi & Perugia: Pilgrimage destination, Sightseeing & Promenade
Assisi, city of St Francis, is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world. International and lively: Perugia, the cosmopolitan capital of Umbria with the longest pedestrian boulevard in the country – both cities are characterized by fascinating architecture and history.
Shrines & Culture in Assisi: Assisi, the city of St Francis, complete with the masterpiece of Italian Gothic, the Basilica of San Francesco, is visible from afar on the ridge of Monte Subasio. The 28 frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the saint in the Upper Basilica is world famous, while the Lower Church houses a crypt where the remains of the holy saint are interred. The souvenir trade booms in the old town.
Cosmopolitan strolling & Shopping in Perugia: The Etruscan metropolis, Perugia, along with its preserved medieval town center, is the cosmopolitan capital of Umbria. The modern lower town is connected to the historic upper town by means of escalators, which is really impressive and admirable. Corso Vannucci is the longest pedestrian boulevard in Umbria, lined with mighty palazzi, elegant boutiques, patisseries and hotels. At the far end, a huge viewing terrace with views of the surrounding area awaits. International flair brings the city to life, as this is also the seat of the Università per Stranieri, a university that attracts many foreign students. The most important collection of Umbrian painting, spanning from the 13th to the 18th century, is showcased in the National Gallery of Umbria.
Tips & Events: Perugia: From the large car park below the town, take the rack railway directly to the center. The International Jazz Festival, “Umbria Jazz, ” takes place in the old town ten days after the second Friday in July. In mid-October, all of Perugia turns into a chocolate paradise, the "Eurochocolate Festival, " which, not surprisingly, has become an institution where you can look forward to chocolate tastings and workshops run by the most famous chocolate producers from Italy.
Castiglione del Lago & Surroundings: Etruscan traces, Sea panoramas & Art
Historic town with stunning views of Lake Trasimeno, cozy passageways, small shops, charming trattorias and conventional bars. In Citta della Pieve: the narrowest street in Italy is the birthplace of the painter, Il Perugino. Medieval flair and lake panoramas in the charming Etruscan towns of Panicale and Paciano.
Fortress & Lake views: The historic town, surrounded by high fortress walls, is picturesquely situated on a peninsula in Lake Trasimeno. After visiting the Palazzo with Renaissance frescoes, the tour of the citadel wall with wonderful views of Lake Trasimeno is an absolute highlight. Cozy alleyways and small shops invite you to take a stroll, whereas charming trattorias and conventional bars tempt you to linger.
Old-timer Tour: On the old border road to Tuscany: the Lago di Chiusi with the small town of Porto, where a private collection of 500 exhibits makes the hearts of motorcyclists beat faster - all ready to drive! And once a year, a vintage car meet-up and group excursion takes place here in August.
Art & Brick flair: Città della Pieve, birthplace of Il Perugino, one of the most famous Renaissance painters in Italy (and teacher of Raphael). Here you will find the narrowest street in Italy and a notable city silhouette: the entire old town consists of unpainted red brick buildings.
Unusual: La Szarcuola is the "Città Ideale, " or ideal city. Constructed out of tuff, with seven buildings nested in each other, it is tucked away near Montegiove, south of Città della Pieve. Inspired by a Renaissance novel, the Milanese architect, Tommasso Buzzi designed the city with a landscaped garden. La Szarcuola can only be visited with a guide.
Tips & Events: Castiglione del Lago: Every two years (even dates) a kite and hot air balloon festival, the "Coloriamo i cieli, " takes place and has since become established as the International Kite Festival at Lago. The "Sagra del Pesce" in Porto is a traditional "Feast of the Fish" that is celebrated over several days during the Assumption in August.
Gubbio & Surroundings: Middle Ages, Modernity & Mountains
You need to be a good hiker, if you want to master the steep slopes of Gubbio during the city tour. The medieval center offers pottery and blacksmithing, and the surrounding area is considered a treasure chest for archaeologists. Modern art can be viewed in Città di Castello. The Monte Cucco attracts sports freaks and nature lovers.
Churches & Mountain Panoramas: The heart of the ancient Umbrian Empire beats in Gubbio. To avoid a sweaty ascent up the mountain, you could choose to swoop over the roofs of Gubbio in the cable cars of Funivia and enjoy the beautiful bird’s eye views of the old town on the way up to Monte Ingino. A city tour leads over steep streets to the Palazzo dei Consoli, which houses the Iguvine Tablets, the legacy of the ancient Umbrians. The most important texts of classical antiquity are engraved onto these seven large bronze tablets that were discovered in a field in 1444. The steep road continues onwards to the cathedral with its richly decorated altar room. The churches and alleys of Gubbio served as the perfect location for director, Leone Pompucci while shooting the TV series, "Don Matteo" with Terence Hill. At Christmas time, you can admire the largest Christmas tree in the world: at 400m, it has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Modern Art: The works of local artist, Alberto Burri offer a nice change of scenery away from Middle Ages and Renaissance paintings. Modern art lovers can find his paintings in the Palazzo Albizzini at Città di Castello in Via Albizzini 1.
Tips & Events: Gubbio: On May 15: Festa dei Ceri. The spectacular Eugubin race for the three saints takes place every year on 15 May. Three teams of 40 men run up the steep slope to the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo with 4-meter high, 400kg wooden candles on their shoulders.
Montefalco & Surroundings: Craftsmanship, Wine & Oil
The medieval hill town of Montefalco, home of the Sagrantino wine, offers a fascinating all-round panorama. The idyllic Bevagna is the home of medieval craftsmanship. The jewel of Spello with its charming streets, Roman walls and city gates and Trevi, known for centuries for its olive oil.
Hill town, Wine growing & Design: They don’t call the medieval hill town of Montefalco, with its fascinating panoramas, the Umbria lookout terrace for no reason. It’s also the center of Umbrian viticulture, the unique Sagrantino and the wonderful Grechetto di Montefalco. In addition to wine, visitors can buy finely-crafted textiles in the form of hand-woven tablecloths and napkins with beautiful designs here.
Historical flair & Craftsmanship: Medieval craftsmanship continues to be cherished in the idyllic Bevagna, where old traditions come to life in the workshops: candle making, silk weaving, painting, gilding and papermaking. The more than 2,000 years of history is ubiquitous within its historic city walls. The Piazza Fillippo Silvestri with its three churches is probably the most harmonious medieval square in Umbria. A treasure chest: the Teatro Torti - a picture-perfect theater with 61 velvet-covered parquet seats and 126 box seats over three floors.
Roman town & Natural park: A jewel between Assisi and Spoletto is Spello with its charming alleyways and staircases that have bilateral ancient gullies, Roman walls, and city gates. Outside, on the edge of the Monte Subasi Natural Park, the charming medieval collegiate, Collepino, is the starting point for delightful walks through Subasio Park.
Trevi olive oil: Trevi is perched majestically on a steep hill in the midst of the sprawling olive groves between Foligno and Spoleto. Trevi is known for its olive oil and the unique Trevi Flash Art Museum is famous for showcasing Italian contemporary art.
Norcia & Surroundings: Gourmet Region, Rafting & Hiking
Valnerina valley, with the river Nera, is a rafting paradise. In the quaint and picturesque Norcia, surrounded by mountains, you are not only in truffle heaven but also in the land of milk and honey – this area is world-famous for its lentils, sausages and ham. Explore unspoiled nature in the National Park of the Sibillini Mountains where Castelluccio is the highest village in Europe.
Hiking for gourmets in Valnerina: This area, with the infamous river Nera, is a household name not only among rafting fans. Gourmets love the meat specialties and the honey exclusive to this region. Hikers set off on scenic paths to the picturesque village of Vallo di Nera, where medieval frescoes and fine truffle dishes await.
Gourmet Mile: Norcia is the land of milk and honey as well as truffle heaven. Walking through the Porta Romana, you get to the Corso Sertorio, lined on both sides by shops both big and small, decorated with wild boar heads, chains of salami, guanciali ham and baskets overflowing with world-famous truffles and lentils. If you make it through this pleasure mile, you will emerge in the Piazza di San Bernadetto. In the streets of Norcia you will find many small trattorias offering home-cooked meals to fine truffles and everything in-between.
National Park Monti Sibillini: Boasting truly untouched nature on the foot of the Sibillini mountains, the National Park Monti Sibillini, also called "Monti Azzurri, " has an atmosphere that is out of this world and feels like balm for the soul after visiting popular tourist destinations. Castelluccio, Europe’s highest village, offers magical views of the plateau with flowering daisies in the spring, followed by yellow-flowering lentils and red poppies, some of the most unmistakable features of this region. Two famous saints are "at home" in this region: St Rita in Cascia and St Benedict in Norcia.
Tips & Events: Norcia: On the last weekend of February, Norcia becomes the meeting place of gourmets from near and far, when the traditional sales expo revolves around the precious black truffle.
Orvieto, Todi & Surroundings: Caves, Archeology & Wine
The underworld of the tuff city of Orvieto fascinates with more than 1,200 caves and the necropolises, which form a unique ring around the city; the Orvieto Classico delights wine lovers, and art lovers from all over the world flock to see the cathedral. The wildly romantic Tiber Valley with Lake Corbara leads into the medieval hill town of Todi.
Caves & Wine: The underworld of the tuff city of Orvieto fascinates with over 1,200 caves and the necropolises encircle the city like a ring, the Orvieto Classico delights wine lovers, whereas art lovers from all over the world flock to the cathedral.
Etruscan & Renaissance: The wildly romantic Tiber Valley and Lake Corbara leads from Orvieto to the medieval hill town of Todi with its Etruscan past, which welcomes visitors with a masterpiece of the Renaissance already in front of the city walls: Santa Maria della Consolazione. Situated 400m above the Tiber Valley, a city tour offers wonderful views of the surroundings. The Piazza del Popolo is the most beautiful square ensemble of the region. Tip: have a glass of Grechetto with antipasti in the beautiful piazza with its abundance of street cafés.
Terni, Spoleto & Surrounding areas: Umbria’s Hollywood, Waterfall & Opera club
East of the little industrial tourist city of Terni: Umbria’s dream factory in response to Hollywood; near the highest waterfall in Europe, the Cascata delle Marmore. Staircases are the distinguishing feature of Spoleto’s historic old town. The town is also an international meeting place for opera lovers.
Dream factory & Water sports: East of the little industrial tourist town of Terni, in the suburb Papaigno, Umbria’s dream factory is located in empty industrial halls. This is where Roberto Benigni shot his films, "Pinocchio, " "El tigre e la nieve" and the Oscar-winning masterpiece, "La vita è bella" (Life is beautiful). Not far from the steel city is Cascata delle Marmore, the highest waterfall in Europe, and the Nera’s rapids attracts water sports enthusiasts as well as nature lovers.
Opera meeting point: Spoleto is also called the "Bayreuth of Italy" or "Umbria’s Salzburg." The famous Festival dei Due Mondi is a meeting place for opera lovers every summer. With almost 40,000 inhabitants, the city also boasts winding lanes and the gigantic walk-in aqueduct, numerous art treasures and one of the most important examples of Romanesque sculpture in Italy: the façade of the San Pietro church dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. The bridge construction of Ponte delle Torri is incredibly impressive. Hikers will love the many scenic paths that lead to the summer resort, Monteluco (804 m).
Tips & Events: Spoleto: End of June - second week of July: Gian Carlo Menotti founded the "Festival dei Due Mondi" in 1958 to bring together cultures from the Old and New Worlds. Meanwhile, this opera festival boasts world-class status and is an integral highlight in the calendars of opera lovers.
Umbria - Good to know:
Summer holidays & Ski season: Umbria is the perfect year-round holiday destination. A colorful carpet of flowers blooms in the spring, when fauna and flora awaken and the temperatures are pleasant. It can be cool and rainy in April. July and August are the warmest months – places of interest are often crowded and temperatures run high. September and October are very pleasant. The olive harvest in November is mostly cool and rainy. In the winter months from December to March, it is cold, and rains often. Snow falls in the mountains creating ideal conditions for the ski season, which attracts winter sports enthusiasts to the Apennines and Monti Sibillini.
Umbrian cuisine: Umbrian cuisine is down-to-earth and unadulterated - and usually cheaper than Tuscany. Not only the Umbrians of antiquity, but also the modern inhabitants of Umbria love to eat legumes. The farmers markets are captivating with their wide variety of produce and carefully selected beans, lentils and spelt. Castelluccio lentils are famous, and no menu is complete without the traditional "zuppa di lenticchie" (lentil soup). Spoleto has its own pasta variety, Strangozzi, which is a kind of thick spaghetti. Tender mountain ham, wild boar salami, fennel press sausage and deer ham come from the region around Norcia. The truffles from Norcia are world famous. Typical Umbrian dishes include chickpea and durum wheat pasta, popular antipasti are truffle crostini and bran cheese. Pecorino and ricotta salata are among the more well-known cheeses. Umbrian olive oil is considered the best in Italy, after the olive oil from Tuscany. Lake Trasimeno offers excellent quality of fish, and popular fish dishes are regina in porchetta (king carp in pork and herb paste) and freshwater crabs in green sauce. The selection of sweets and deserts is also quite large: Torciglioni (marzipan pastry) in Perugia, rocciata (a type of coarse Florentine) in Assisi. Umbria is a stronghold of chocolate and praline production, especially in Perugia, where the famous specialty, "Baci di Perugia” comes from. Last but not least, Umbria produces excellent wines such as Orvieto Classico, Sagrantino and Grechetto.
Umbria for outdoor enthusiasts: Umbria does not belong to just one kind of traveller. Solo travellers, couples and families feel just as comfortable here as groups or holiday guests with pets. It is a paradise for nature lovers, art lovers and medieval aesthetes. Sports enthusiasts can choose from a wide range of options: hikers can enjoy well-marked paths, cyclists can "simply" tour the Trasimeno and mountain bikers have loads of gravel paths or rocky trails to explore, whereas racing cyclists can train on low-traffic country roads. Monte Cucco is a challenge for climbers. Hang gliders and paragliders take off from Monte Cucco and Monti Sibillini. Water sport enthusiasts sail and surf on Lake Trasimeno, canoeists and rubber dinghy riders search for the "wildest" areas of Valnerina. Golfers will find fantastic facilities from 9-hole to 18-hole golf courses in stunning natural surroundings.
Car rental: In order to explore the hinterland, the mountain villages, and lesser-known areas and take in their sights, you need to have a car. Rail and air travellers should book ahead of time with the hotel or directly with rental car dealers.