Umbria things to do
The poet Giosuè Carducci once described Umbria as ‘il cuor verde d’Italia’, the green heart of Italy, a testament to it being Italy’s only region that borders neither another country nor coastline. Within the boot that is Italy, Umbria is the relatively unheralded yet remarkable calf muscle.Pictured : Trevi - typical of the hilltop villages of the region
This beautiful region of an extraordinary country boasts a medieval character within the backdrop of an exciting, new Italy. It is crying out to be explored. Where better than to choose a villa here?
Given its situation, Umbria is highly accessible from all parts of Italy either by car, train or bus. It is also served by its own airport near the regional capital, Perugia. However for international arrivals, it may be a better idea to use the nearby airports of Rome, Pisa or Florence.
It is, however, not the airport that draws people to Umbria’s capital of Perugia. It would be a crime to begin a review of Umbria without Perguia. It is the headline act. It is, with excellent regional transportation links provided by trenitalia and ferrovia centrale on rail lines, and Sulga bus and SENA bus on the roads, the base from which you can explore this beautiful, mysterious region.
Key attractions include its Piazza IV Novembre, an idyllic centre of congregation for both locals and tourists, its Palazzo dei Priori, often described as one of Italy’s greatest buildings, Basilica di San Francesco, a World Heritage Site, and The National Gallery of Umbrian Art, encompassing work from Perugino and Beato Angelico. You will struggle to find greater attractions than these. They boast true masterpieces of Italian art. They are ancient triumphs of imagination and ambition, qualities for which Italy is so admired for. They get you out, but do not wear you out. They are the perfect way to start your holiday in a region that typifies the Italian experience.
But Perugia offers excitement beyond ancient monuments and inspiring art. Its chocolate factory is a great choice for tourists. It is Umbria’s answer to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; you could indeed be the answer to Willy Wonka. Learn the history of this famous food on a global and local level and sample some irresistible treats before getting your hands dirty in creating your own masterpiece of this most delicious of foods. Actually, forget that. You’ll be getting your apron, shoes and anyone who goes near you dirty as you craft away. It is wacky activities like this that can make a holiday, and could be a welcome addition to yours...
Just as there is more to Italy than Rome, Milan and Turin, there is more to Umbria than Perugia and its famous monuments. Take Spello, for example. Words that may be associated with such a place may include cute, charming, endearing. It is an ancient town that you would see on an Italian postcard. Its churches are like museums, its houses look like part of a flower show. Indeed, Umbria’s flower town, as it is affectionately known, boasts examples of Romanesque architecture in buildings such as San Claudio in a setting of natural beauty. It is a must-see part of a must-visit region.
And how about Todi? The Italian press have widely reported it as the world’s most livable city, but please don’t let this taint its other tag as the region’s most visitable area. Alongside traditional attractions of the Gothic Cathedral and the Palazzo del popolo, the true treat of Todi is heading outwards to the infinite surprises and mysteries of the Frazioni, a collection of 39 small villages such as Montenero and Izzalini with a range of castles, fortresses and countryside views. Umbria may be the true Italy, but such villages are the true Umbria.
If you’re of a more active persuasion then you may even enjoy a spot of hiking in Spoleto. Put your binoculars and cameras away, and get your walking boots and hiking poles out. This challenging adventure includes en route the 240 metre bridge of the Roman Ponte delle Tori, beautiful Holm Oak trees and even a range of caves.
We must not forget that the wonders of Umbria are not restricted to monuments built centuries ago, nor views that capture ones imagination. It is also evident in its traditions, its people and its festivals. From the vibrancy of processions and live performances, dedicated to annual re-enactments of Renaissance life and traditional celebrations of Easter week in the town of Assisi, to the Spring Kite festival of ‘Colariamo i Cieli’ in the Umbrian skyline, excitement and activity is a part of life here. During your stay, you will find something to help live this quintessentially Italian way of life.
And finally, as we’ve seen from the popularity of Perugia’s Chocolate Factory, food is big in Umbria. Very big. Whereas annual events provide flashes of this regions culture, food is a constant reminder, for it is an intrinsic part of that very culture. Restaurants everywhere such as Il Melograno produce local specialities. Would you rather enjoy a classic chick pea soup whilst gradually making your way through a bottle of White Orvieto? Or would you rather have this dry, semi-sweet beverage as a key ingredient of your main course, with Gallina Ubriaca, ‘drunk hen’, as a local favourite?
From Orvieto to Torgiano to Rosso di Montefalco, there’s no doubt about it, this is Italy at its best; a locality producing top quality wines in the company of regionally acclaimed dishes within a landscape and culture that is both wondrous to the world yet personal to its people.
For accommodation in Umbria, please click here
or see the selection below.
A perfect base to enjoy leisurely walks through the stunning Umbrian and Tuscan countryside, this charming villa is an idyllic retreat from busy daily life.
£1460 - £1930
24 May-14 June & 21-28 June: was £3,490, now £2,795!
28 June-19 July: was £3,730, now £2,995!
09-16 Aug & 23-30 Aug: was £3,730, now £3,180!
30 Aug - 20 Sept: was £3,490, now £2,795!
Private villa in Umbria, near Todi: Situated at the very heart of the Umbrian verdant countryside, in approximately five acres of enclosed grounds, comprising olive groves and well maintained gardens, Domus Romana is an eceptionally elegant country Italian villa with stunning views and excellent location to reach many medieval hilltop villages.
£3120 - £3735
Tuoro sul Trasimeno, borders of Tuscany/
| Sleeps 10
18-25 May: was £3,330, now just £2,690!
01-29 June: was £3,945, now just £3,180 per week!
Lake Trasimeno villa with large pool - Villa Giulietta is a charming Tuscan villa, formerly a working olive oil mill, with origins dating back as far as the 18th century, and convenient for exploring both Tuscany and Umbria.
£3330 - £4560
Montefalco villa in Umbria with covered pool - Located near the charming town of Montefalco in a picturesque region of Umbria known for production of the famous Sagrantino di Montefalco wine, is this carefully renovated farmhouse.
£1400 - £2750