Hidden Italy: Umbria

At Citalia we have over 90 years’ experience and over this time we have stumbled across a number of hidden gems in Italy that not many people know about. We have travelled the country top to bottom, bottom to top, and everything in between to bring you our extensive knowledge and secret treasures. 

Without further ado, introducing the latest in our Hidden Italy series, Citalia’s Choice for October…UMBRIA!  

Italy’s ‘green heart’, Umbria is a region in the centre of the country and is bordered by Lazio, Le Marche and Tuscany. Charismatic, medieval, but with a haunting beauty, it really is a hidden gem. Off the tourist trail, Umbria has so many amazing secrets just waiting to be discovered. Here are some of our favourite things about Umbria for you to enjoy on your next trip to Italy. 

Orvieto Underground

Orvieto, set high on a cliff overlooking the valley, is one of the most important historic cities in Italy. Dating all the way back to the Etruscan era, the city has many legends and ancient tales. If you’re looking for a unique experience, then it’s time to head underground. Beneath the city lies 1,200 caves, wells, cellars and tunnels that have been carved into the rock face some three millennia ago. Get lost in the maze below and discover traces of Etruscan and medieval relics. Of particular interest is the entire medieval mill created by Orvieto’s inhabitants of ancient times which still has evidence of the grinders, presses, and fireplace. Wherever the winding underground takes you, there is no doubt that you won’t be amazed by this mysterious underground city. Above ground, pay a visit to the duomo, it is stunning and a must see. Orvieto has a Florence feel to it with its architecture and cobbled streest lined with shops and bars. 
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Franciscan Walking Trails

If you’re looking to get out and about and explore, then there are a number of Franciscan walking trails available. Two trails we love are the Sentiero Francescano which runs between Nocera and Assisi, and the Sentiero della Pace running between Assisi and Gubbio. The trails retrace the long journey that St. Francis made on his way back to Assisi. Follow the routes through the green hills of Umbria, stop for a second, take a breath and admire your surroundings, it really is special.  

Perugia Festivals

Perugia is the capital city of Umbria and is one not to be missed on a trip to Italy. The city offers a bustling atmosphere and is lively with plenty of fantastic galleries, restaurants and bars to choose from. It is old at heart but has a youthful energy with all the students from one of Italy’s oldest universities. Also known as the ‘City of Chocolate’ due to the famous Perugina chocolate factory, Perugia hosts a Chocolate Festival which takes place annually in October. For lovers of good music, you shouldn’t miss a stop at Perugia’s Jazz Festival which is held each year in July and offers a fantastic range of events. Singers from all over the world come together to put on an exceptional performance. 
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Citta di Castello

A beautiful historic city on the border with Tuscany, Citta di Castello is a real wonder. Perfect to get away from the crowds but still enjoy the feeling of being in an authentic town. Surrounded by lush green farmland and fields of gold, the Renaissance walls encircle the city and its ancient cobblestoned streets. The architecture of years gone by shines through at every turn and the archaic town hall dates all the way back to the 1300s. Known as the ‘City of Museums’, there are plenty to visit here and the most famous is the one dedicated to famous abstract artist and sculptor Alberto Burri – Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri. Citta di Castello is an all-year-round destination with plenty of seasonal food, cultural festivals taking place and a peaceful atmosphere. 
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Glorious Grottos

Hilltop town Todi is a delightfully peaceful place. Resting high on the hill over the River Tiber the views are unparalleled. Todi consists of tiny alleyways and Italy’s most photogenic piazzas. Designed by Cola da Caprarola, the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione is simply beautiful. In order to get the best view of it with the hills in the backdrop you can climb the 150 steps to the top of the bell tower of the church of San Fortunato. Blend in with the locals at Todi’s Saturday market and stock up on local produce including fruit and vegetables, fresh products, homeware and clothing. 

Assisi

A trip to Umbria is not complete without a trip to Assisi to witness the true Italian countryside in all its glory. The birthplace and final resting place of St. Francis, Assisi has been attracting pilgrims since the 13th century. The jewel of the Umbrian crown, it is home to the Basilica di San Francesco which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This impressive basilica houses a series of frescoes by Giotto illustrating the life of the saint. The pristine historic centre offers a great stopping point to sit back, relax and try the local food and wine.  
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Lake Trasimeno

Away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities lies Lake Trasimeno, a vast lake with little medieval towns lining the edges and three islands within: Isola Maggiore, Isola Polvese and Isola Minore. Surrounded by rolling hillside, fields of sunflowers and enchanting woodland it is perfect for escaping the worries of everyday life. Hop on board a boat and pay a visit to the small islands of Maggiore and Polvese (Minore is private) – you won’t be disappointed. Isola Maggiore is home to just 12 people and has only one ancient street, a little beach and just a few bars and restaurants. If you walk through the olive groves to the other side of the island you’ll find a deserted castle overlooking the lake. 

Gubbio and Festa dei Ceri

The medieval city of Gubbio is perhaps most famous for its annual Festa dei Ceri, translated Candle Race. Held each year in May, the event takes place to celebrate the three patron saints: St George, St Ubaldo and St Anthony. On the day of the event, each of the three saints are represented by a large wooden monument, the candle, which is given to each team and carried on their shoulders. The teams then race with the candles through the streets of Gubbio heading towards the Basilica at the top of Mount Ingino. It is quite a spectacle with crowds cheering and musicians playing. Following the event there is a fantastic banquet dishing up a real feast with lots of dancing and singing. 

Marmore Waterfall

One of the highest waterfalls in the whole of Europe, Marmore Waterfall is one of the top things to do in Umbria. Standing at 165m high it was constructed by the Romans making it the second biggest waterfall in the world that has been man made. In the past, the Romans used it to turn away unsanitary water from the local town nearby and today it is used to generate electricity. There are multiple viewpoints around the waterfall, and it can be reached by walking through the striking park that surrounds it. It really is a sight worth seeing.  

Gorges of Nera

A true hidden gem, the gorges of Nera offer visitors the perfect opportunity to discover the real Umbria. Off the beaten track, the area is relatively secret. Pay a visit to the quaint town of Narni which was inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia film and take in your surroundings. From there, start at the Augustus Bridge and follow the path alongside the River Nera as you take a step in to the countryside admiring the fairy-tale woodland and listening to the sound of the birds chirping overhead.  

Where can I stay in Umbria?

We have some excellent hotels available for your next adventure to Umbria. 
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Tenuta di Canonica
  • Stay in a former medieval watchtower turned boutique hotel
  • Discover the hilltop town of Todi in the heart of Umbria
  • Tuck into traditional farm-to-fork cuisine and fine local wines
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Country House Tre Esse
  • Situated just a 30-minute walk to the centre of Assisi
  • Beautiful views from the terraces and swimming pool
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Hotel Tiferno
  • Enjoy a four star boutique stay in a former 17th century monastery
  • Discover Umbria's cultural side in the city of Citta di Castello
  • Celebrate abstract artwork from esteemed Italian artist Alberto Burri
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Sina Brufani
  • Located in the heart of medieval Perugia close to historical sites
  • Splendid views over the Umbrian valley below

Discover the real Italy with Citalia

Utterly in love with Umbria? Well, here is our commitment to you. With 95 years’ experience we pride ourselves on ensuring you Travel with Confidence. Our Italy Experts are on hand to help you plan your next enchanting escape. Discover the real Italy with Citalia, your next adventure is just a call away…  

 

Enjoyed uncovering Umbria? Discover more of the real Italy in our latest blog series. Every month we're revealing a new off the beaten track destination, explore the region our experts have already shared with Hidden Italy: Cilento.

Call us today to speak to one of our Italy Experts for further travel advice, hotel recommendations or to begin planning your next Italian holiday.
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