UMBRIA – WHY GO?
Umbria’s wealth of fabulous medieval towns, mist-cloaked hills, deep valleys and artistic treasures make it a charmer. Its hilltop towns are medieval gems rich in art and architecture, while its wooded landscape comes into its own out of season, when it's mountain-crisp outside and fireside-warm indoors.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Umbria’s capital is possibly the world’s most cosmopolitan medieval city. Encircled by walls, it's an upbeat university city with a lively evening passeggiata, splendid frescoed churches and a foot-tapping jazz festival each summer. Elegant shops line its palatial Corso Vannucci, while a warren of winding streets tunnel beneath Etruscan arches.
Only 25 miles north of Perugia, Gubbio is another medieval masterpiece. Stand in the town’s lofty Piazza Grande and gaze out over a tumble of ochre rooftops towards the Apennine hills beyond. Tarry awhile, and you can shop in the inviting little delis, bookshops and galleries lining the town's high-sided streets, or admire the castellated Palazzo dei Consoli, one of its magnificent set-piece sights.
Dominating its hillside vantage point, the town of St Francis attracts more than its fair share of visitors, and you’re likely to find yourself strolling behind the billowing cassocks of monks heading for prayers in its vast basilica.
Medieval buildings climb up the valley sides, disappearing into the forested slopes beyond. Don’t miss its frescoed cathedral and clutch of fine Romanesque churches, or the impressive Ponte delle Torri. Now firmly on the cultural map thanks to its summer arts festival, Spoleto is now becoming something of a showcase for Italian music, dance and theatre.
Food and drink
Try local signature dishes such as porchetta – stuffed roast suckling pig – or tartufi neri – black truffles stuffed into ravioli and mixed in risotto. Tuck into beef sauced with the region’s celebrated truffles, tagliatelle strewn with black peppercorns and pecorino cheese, or wild boar on polenta. A glass or three of Montefalco Rosso, Colli Perugini or Torgiano make the perfect accompaniment.
MAKE A DATE
The Ceri Race festival and Crossbow competition is one of the biggest dates of the year in Gubbio – followed by Racing Silk of the Crossbow. Both events celebrate the town’s medieval roots.
Late June - early July
Spoleto turns into an international stage for music and dance with the Festival dei Due Mondi.
Umbria Jazz sees jazz, blues and other fusion genres performing both on the streets and at venues around Perugia.
Spoleto’s Summer is a vibrant festival of dance, music and cinema.
Todi Arts Festival comes alive with dance, theatre and musical reviews.
Take in an avante-garde production at the Experimental Opera Season
Throw out the diet book – Eurochocolate is an absolute must for chocolate fanatics.
Citta di Castello hosts Umbria's annual Truffle festival – come for the tastings.
Visit Assisi in the evening to stroll around the hilltop town bathed in golden light as day turns to dusk.