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Umbria City Travel Map
Umbria has been called "Italy's Green Heart." It is green, mainly agricultural, and more sparsely populated than its western neighbor, Tuscany. Umbria has no access to the Mediterranean but holds one of the largest lakes of Italy which has had a great deal to do with ancient history. The shores of Lake Trasimeno in western Umbria were the site of the Battle of Lake Trasimeno in 217 BC, where Hannibal crushed the Romans who had intended to ambush him on his way back to Rome.
So, Umbria is for the laid back traveler, one who would perhaps like to sip the uniquely Umbrian wine called Sagrantino in one of the many Umbria Wineries. There are plenty of interesting towns to discover; the regional capital Perugia is one of my favorites, although others may prefer Saint Francis's town of Assisi – or the Etruscan city of Orvieto.
Follow along with our Umbrian slide show to see some compelling cities and villages to visit.
The last page offers travel essentials for Umbria, including... a list of other compelling cities to visit, how to get there, and where to stay. Have a nice trip!Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Perugia: The Capital of Umbria
Perugia is the regional capital of Umbria, has Etruscan underpinnings including an arch and walls, is one of Italy's great art cities, is known for its extremely popular jazz and chocolate festivals...and yet is almost entirely overlooked by tourists.
Perugia sits on a hilltop and part of a valley. From the train station, you can take a bus for the 1.5 kilometer climb into town but the intrepid with sturdy legs will want to take an alternative route; the moving stairway that takes you through the excavations below the city from the parking lots.
The wide corso Vannucci that cuts through the center of town is like a gigantic piazza without car traffic, a fantastic place to take your evening stroll through the history of Perugia's art and architecture. See a Perugia map for other attraction locations.
If you wish to stay, you may want to check out some Perugia Hotels on Hipmunk rated for popularity.
But Umbria isn't just about the cities; it's all about the verdant countryside...Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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The Green Heart of Italy
Umbria is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a border with other countries. Here you are locked into Italy's creamy, dreamy, and quite green center. It's quiet and peaceful. Population density is very low, especially compared to adjacent Tuscany. So are prices, comparatively.
Tobacco, cereals, olive trees, and vineyards are found throughout Umbria. You'll learn to spot the tobacco drying structures, now often converted into elegant and romantic lodging for tourists.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Castiglione del Lago
Rocca del Leone, the castle of this interesting city jutting out on Lake Trasimeno, has a dark passageway to roam and is often the scene of festivals and art presentations. You eat well in Castiglione. It is, after all, one of the Top Towns To Visit on Lake Trasimeno. You could settle down here and spend a week or more visiting the cities, islands, and wineries around the lake.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Panicale, a Typical Village of Art
We spent a couple of weeks with friends in this compact little hill town within sight of Lake Trasimeno, and we didn't get bored. A more recent visit found the little village nearly the same as we left it–except the apartment our friends stayed in and passing tourists thought was a restaurant is now....a restaurant, highly regarded by the locals.
For other cities to visit in Umbria, as well as how to get there, see the following page, Umbria Travel Essentials.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Other Cities to Visit in Umbria
Assisi - A place where you can get off the train and Walk in the Footsteps of St Francis.
Spoleto - famous for its summer music festival, Festival dei Due Mondi, with interesting Roman, medieval, and modern sights.
Todi - yet another picturesque medieval hill town in Umbria, surrounded by medieval, Roman and Etruscan walls. Although it's a hill town, its center at the top of the hill is flat, so the walkin' is easy.
Gubbio is a well-preserved medieval hill town in Umbria.
Narni is very near the geographical center of Italy.
Umbrian Off The Beaten Track Special Places
Monasteries, Pascelupo, and Monte Cucco: Off the Beaten Track: Monasteries and Mountains in Umbria.
How to Get to Umbria
We'll use as our datum point the capital city of Perugia, and list the ways to get there from other... great tourism cities in Italy. Each link takes you to a map with information on rail, bus and private auto travel times and costs. From each link you can input your own starting point if it is different than these three:
Florence to Perugia (~2 hours by bus/train)
Rome to Perugia (~3 hours bus/train)
Venice to Perugia (5 hours 13 minutes by train)
Umbria for the Quiet: Where to Stay
There's a lot of quiet in Umbria; Umbria, as we mentioned at the top, is far less densely populated than adjoining Tuscany. If you're looking for a romantic retreat in the Umbria countryside, an interesting option is to stay at a restored Monastic outpost in Umbria called La Preghiera. You can plan to get married there, too, if that appeals to you.
Another place to consider is Fontanaro, a collection of houses forming a sort of "agriturismo diffuso" where you can learn about Umbrian cooking, wine, making organic olive oil, or you can spend your time lounging around. Fontanaro is near Panicale and Citta di Castello, a very interesting area to explore. You'll also be near what many call the best gelato in Italy. The little winery nearby is a treasure: Madrevite.
Other lodging options are found at HomeAway: Umbria Vacation Rentals.
The Cuisine of Umbria
"Umbria relies strongly on seasonal produce such as mushrooms, wild asparagus, and numerous other fresh vegetables, and of course on the highly prized truffles that grow throughout the region."
So says Deborah Mele of Italian Food Forever, as much an Umbrian food expert as you're likely to find. Her introduction to the cuisine, The Foods of Umbria, will give you all you need to know about the food and food traditions of Umbria. If you love to eat well and stay in a rural B&B, the Mele's Casale di Mele might be the perfect place to stay.