Take in the sweeping panoramic vistas of Umbria, and you’ll immediately see why it’s known as the green heart of Italy. The densely wooded hills of this rustic, landlocked region are edged by the misty peaks of the Apennine mountain range, and studded with ancient medieval hill towns which guard historic and artistic treasures. The charm of this region, however, is that despite the inimitable Estruscan and Roman heritage, it’s not all about the past. Lively university towns offer fabulous wines and a rich gastronomic culture – don’t miss the region’s earthy truffles or rich cured meats.
Get to know Italy without the crowds
based on two sharing in a twin/double room, with a minimum of 35 passengers travelling in a specific month
April, May, June, July, September, October
Perched atop a butte of volcanic rock, Orvieto is a stunning town set amongst a rural paradise. Tucked within the vines and olive trees of the surrounding landscape are defensive walls and an atmospheric maze of cobbled streets, and hidden below these a labyrinthine network of caves discloses the town’s Estruscan past. The ornate cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian Gothic, crowns Orvieto with its incredible sculpted façade, eyecatching stripes, and astounding frescoes.
Beautiful Lake Bolsena sits in the caldera created by the ancient Vulsini volcano, and its crystalline waters lap a soft sandy shore. The town of Bolsena sits on the eastern flank of the lake, and is the perfect spot for sampling the local gelato.
Dramatically flanked by the bulk of Monte Subasio, the holy town of Assisi is a medieval gem set amongst the wooded slopes of the Valle Umbra. The impeccably preserved historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and showcases a continuous history of art and architecture that stretches back to medieval times – the pinnacle of which is the St Francis Basilica.
The Basilica of St Francis is the star of the show in Assisi, and an important Christian pilgrimage site. Split into the upper and lower sections, the series of vibrant frescoes inside is one of Italy’s most famed works of art and depicts the life of St Francis. Painted by late medieval masters from the Tuscan and Roman schools, the Basilica displays an incredible quality and range of works. The Basilica’s crypt also contains the elaborate tomb of St Francis himself.
The capital of Umbria, Perugia is a lively university city filled with ancient remnants. It’s home to amazing artworks, cobbled alleys, picturesque piazzas and magnificent Estruscan walls. If you can tear yourself away from wandering the shadowy, romantic streets, don’t miss the National Gallery of Umbria, which presents regional masterpieces from the 13th to 19th centuries. Perugia is also known for its festivals celebrating chocolate (October) and jazz (January).
Built on a thousand years of history, Spoleto is one of the most important cities in Umbria and is host to many fine ancient monuments. Its highlights include the Roman theatre, a 12th century cathedral with decorative porticoes, and the pretty piazzas linked by picturesque stone passages.
“An atmosphere all of its own and stunning countryside wherever you go – late September and October gives you the wonderful change of season with the turning of the leaves from deep green to bright reds, yellows and oranges. Spectacular!” (Jo)
4 minute read
For travellers wanting to experience the glorious art, culture and landscapes of Italy, Tuscany is a hugely popular choice, yet sitting right next door to this is the lesser-known but equally stunning Umbria. Aptly named the ‘green heart’ of Italy, the region is characterised by undulating hills lush with vegetation...
By Laura Edwards
8th Jan 2019
Hand picked destinations
Timelessly alluring, for many Tuscany embodies the very best of Italy. From the mist-draped hills of the countryside to the wealth of artistic masterpieces, this region is an embarrassment of riches.
Timelessly alluring, for many Tuscany embodies the very best of Italy. The southern part of the region is a medieval treasure trove, with its ancient towns, galleries and churches bursting with fine Renaissance art.
The five idyllic coastal villages that make up the Cinque Terre, or ‘Five Lands’, are nestled amongst the dramatic cliff edge that defines this area of Italy, best explored by the 19th century railway line that runs between them.
Stretching across a swathe of north-east Italy, the joy of the Veneto is its extraordinary variety: prosperous towns are situated amongst coastal lagoons, marshlands, rolling hills and the Alpine air of the Dolomites.
Istria, found in Croatia’s far north, slices into the sparkling blue of the Adriatic Sea. Characterised by miles of coastline and a richly rural interior, this region has its own unique identity and is known as the ‘Tuscany of Croatia’.