PWk: Prod, Tlk: GS2, Datacash: Live
Holidays in Umbria take you to a region of intimate hill-towns, some inhabited since the Etruscans called this part of Italy home. Its rolling hills and inviting valleys offer a riot of colourful wildflowers in the spring, and are crisscrossed by bike and walking trails, some of which follow the route taken by St Francis. In some parts of this impressive landscape there’s a silence that’s difficult to find in other parts of the country.
Umbria, often called Italy’s green heart, has a powerful sense of tradition. Its towns and cities are smaller and more authentic in many ways, allowing you to see the ‘untouched Italy’.
With magnificent palaces, thought-provoking museums, Romanesque cathedrals and picturesque churches, each with their own place in history, it’s easy to binge on art and culture. Umbria is a wonderful place to get away from it all. It’s rustic, historic and like many things Italian, it’s romantic – just right for couples looking for some together time.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little out of the ordinary to explore on your holiday to Umbria, the Orvieto Underground, built beneath the town’s more recent foundations, is a fascinating subterranean maze of attractions. There are grottos, galleries, cellars and caves, some of which date to the Etruscan era.
If you’re feeling energetic there are a number of Franciscan walking trails to explore. They include the Sentiero Fransiscano, which runs between Nocera and Assisi, and the Sentiero della Pace between Assisi and Gubbio.
If you’re a music aficionado, head to Perugia’s Jazz Festival, which is held in July, and offers a wonderful range of events. Alternatively, indulge at the Chocolate Festival of Perugia, which takes place in October.
With the convenience of local train travel why not make the most of your holiday in Umbria and discover more of the region’s attractions?
Perugia is the largest city in the region – old at heart, but with a youthful energy thanks to the students from one of Italy’s oldest universities. It’s a city filled with galleries, bars, restaurants and a fascinating historic centre with reminders of times long gone. It’s a great place to start your journey.
Assisi is, for many, the jewel in the Umbrian crown. As the legendary birthplace and final resting place of St Francis of Assisi, the town has become a centre of pilgrimage. The elaborate tomb of the founder of the Franciscan order lies in the Basilica di San Francesco, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This impressive basilica is home to a series of frescoes by Giotto illustrating the life of the saint.
The majority of international flights arrive into Rome Fiumicino airport (FCO). Direct flights to Fiumicino are available from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, Manchester and Newcastle and take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.
Direct flights to Perugia (PEG) depart from London Stansted and take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.
Umbria is predominantly a summer destination, with the season generally running from April to early November. The spring and autumn months are warm and have less crowds, making May, June and September the ideal months to visit. Temperatures are at their hottest in July and August and this is also when Umbria is at its busiest. However, Umbria also enjoys a mild climate in spring and autumn with temperatures rarely going beneath 20 degrees which makes it perfect for visiting at the beginning or end of season too.
Umbrian cuisine is often rustic in nature, using locally sourced ingredients. Pork, cured meats, handmade pastas, mountain cheeses, truffles and olive oil, all produced in the region, are regularly on the menu.
An ancient fresco, now in Orvieto’s National Archaeological Museum, provides evidence that wine was an important part of Etruscan life in the region, as it was for the Romans who followed. Today Orvieto produces both red and white wine using a variety of grapes, including Sagrantino, Grechetto and Procanico. They are the perfect accompaniment to freshly baked bread with a caciotta cheese, infused with black truffle. A locally produced salami also pairs very well.
Rocciata di Assisi, a traditional Umbrian dessert, is tinged with a little controversy by those who associate it with Turkish or Austrian dishes. This scrumptious sweet treat is made simply from an impossibly thin, crunchy and spicy pastry filled with pine nuts, raisins, apples and walnuts. Just roll into a tube then bend to form a horseshoe shape and bake. You will find it served in many of Umbria’s restaurants and small, family run trattorias.
Umbria is a region rich in history having been occupied many times over since its settlement by the Umbrian's in the 6th century BC. From the Romans and the Byzantines, to the Lombards and the Etruscans its chequered past is still evident in many towns and villages which feature ancient Roman roads, medieval palaces, and museums filled with ancient treasures.