Attractions in Umbria

Umbria is in the centre of Italy, also called the green heart of Italy. The river Tiber and the Roman road Via Flaminia cross this region between the North and the South of Italy. Between the vineyards and olive groves are antique Etruscan towns. The inhabitants, also called "Umbri", are attached to their heritage and traditions. One often relives the past in medieval events and sagra's.


Around Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno is in the centre of Italy and surrounded by famous towns like Assisi, Orvieto, Perugia in Umbria and Arezzo, Cortona, Siena and Florence in Tuscany. In the surrounding hills are several villages worth a visit, like Paciano, Panicale, Città della Pieve en Chiusi. The villages on the lake's shores are Castiglione del Lago, Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tuoro sul Trasimeno and San Feliciano (Magione).

There are three islands in the lake: Isola Maggiore, Isola Minore en Isola Polvese. Isola Maggiore can be reached by ferry boat from Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tuoro sul Trasimeno or Castiglione del Lago. On the island are a couple of good restaurants, a lace museum and a few souvenir shops. The other island that can be visited is the Isola Polvese. From San Felciano you can take the ferry boat to this island that is kept as a nature reserve and also has a small beach that is free to use.

Blog post:
Water levels Lake Trasimeno
A boat trip to Isola Maggiore

Castiglione del Lago

Castiglione del Lago is surrounded by ancient walls defending the castle that still today sits on the rock overlooking Lake Trasimeno. The view from this antique castle, the Castello Rocca del Leone is breathtaking. Around the castle is a pleasant park along the lake's shore where restaurants and gelateria's open up during the summer period. In the small centre are a few bars, shops and restaurants that are open all year.

Every year in April there is the Festa del Tulipano in Castiglione del Lago. A cavalcade completely dedicated to tulips attracting quite some people from the area and beyond.

What to see?

Castello Rocca del Leone. From the Palazzo della Corgna you can reach the old fortification "Rocca del Leone" that was initially build in 1247. Still today you can see why this was a strategic position overlooking the lake as well as the surrounding countryside.

Il Palazzo della Corgna. The Palazzo was build around 1500 by Galeazzo Alessi and was finished by Ascanio della Corgna. It is a typical example of the Italian Renaissance with beautiful frescoes from Niccolò Circignani and Francesco Pomarancio.

Santa Maria Maddalena is a church dating back to 1863. There are some frescoes amongst which the "Madonna del Latte", an image of Maria breastfeeding her newborn child.

Blog posts:
Traditional butcher in Castiglione del Lago
Osteria Le Scalette
Festa del Tulipano

Passignano sul Trasimeno

This is a lively little town built along the lake's shores. It dates back to medieval times and one can still see the rmeains of its castle overlooking the lake. An important event that takes place every year by the end of July is the Palio delle Barche. On the last day there is a boat race and a hostorical parade. During the whole week there are festivities.

What to see?

The remains of the medieval fortification Torre di Ponente from the 14th century. The sanctuary of Madonna dell'Oliveto (late 15th century).  S. Cristoforo church from the 10th and 11th century with frescoes. In Castel Rigone,a small village in the hills above there is the Temple of the Holey Maria of the late 14th century with some masterpieces of the Umbrian Renaissance.

Blog posts:
Good pizza near Passignano sul Trasimeno
Palio delle Barche

Tuoro sul Trasimeno

Tuoro sul Trasimeno is known for the bloody battle that Hannibal won against the Romans in 217 before Christ. One can do a walk in the area where you can learn about this battle from the signs that are along the road. If you follow these in the right direction one understands the whole story. Tuoro also has a nice little beach along the lake where you can rent a canoe or a paddleboat.

What to see?

A vist to the island Isola Maggiore, the only island in the lake that is still inhabited. In 1212 Saint Francis from Assisi stayed on the island during Lent. Legend has it that you can still see his footprints in the stones where he came to land, as well as the stone he used as a pillow while resting. And yes, you can still see this pillow (?) and with some fantasy one can imagine his footprints in the rocks. At this side of the island is a weathered wooden sculpture of the saint.

Blog posts:
Ristorante Pizzeria Il Vecchio Mulino
Isola Maggiore en Ristorante l'Oso
Ristorante Antico Dogana

Panicale and Paciano

Panicale and Paciano are two medieaval villages in the hills south from Lake Trasimeno. Paciano is still completely walled and a small centre, Panicale is a bit larger and has a pleasant main square.

What to see?

In Panicale is the church of S. Sebastiano (14th - 15th century) with two important frescoes from Perugino. The fountain and waterwell on the main square was built in 1473. 

Blog post:
Visit Panicale and Paciano in Umbria
Panicale - Fili in Trama

San Feliciano

San Feliciano is a small fishing comunity on the lake's shores. One can actually join the fishermen of San Feliciano and share a trip with them on the lake. From San Feliciano you can take the ferry boat to the Isola Polvese. Isola Polvese is the largest island on the lake and a nature reserve.

Blog post:
Oasi La Valle
Daytrip in Umbria: Isola Polvese


The centre of Umbria

Montefalco

Montefalco is a medieval village in the centre of Umbria that still has its walls dating from the 14th century and four entrance gates. Montefalco literally means the Falcon's mountain and is high upon a hill overlooking the valley below. It is also called Umbria's balcony, the views are outstanding with Trevi in the distance. Montefalco and the surrounding area is famous for the production of the Sagrantino wine. If you enjoy wine this town is the place to be. There are several wine producers where you can have a winetasting without prior reservation.

What to see?

Via de gate of "Porta Sant'Agostino" one enters the centre of the town with its pentengular main square. The museum of Saint Francis was once a church, now it is a museum with frescoes that tell the tale of Saint Francis live.

Blog posts:
Sagrantino di Montefalco
The balcony of Umbria

Bevagna

In the green hills north east of Montefalcois the town of Bevagna. In an almost medieval setting with the small river Teverone passing by. The Filippo Silvestri square dates back to the 12th and 13th century. Saint Francis was often here to preach. In ancient times there were Roman baths here and a amphitheatre. Bevagna is on the Via Flaminia and in Roman times an important centre along this route.

Every year in June medieval times relive in Bevagna during the Mercato delle Gaite. If you are in Umbria in June do not miss this very special event.

What to see?

Piazza Filippo Silvestri. The central square in Bevagna.

Church of San Silvestro dating back to the 12th and 13th century but never completed. The entrance is impressive, but the furniture is plain.

Church of San Michele Arcangelo dating back to the same period and restored many times. In this church is the statue of the patron saint of Bevagna: Saint Vincentius.

Palazzo dei Consoli is a palace built on arcades. Large stairs lead up to the first floor that was turned into a theatre in the 19th century.

Museo Comunale. This museum has an collection of archeological artifacts and paintings.

Blog posts:
Il Mercato delle Gaite
Mercato delle Gaite in Bevagna

Trevi

The village of Trevi is surrouned by olive trees ona hill at 412m.It is a charming little village with narrow alleyways and old walls protecting it. In the Trevi area high quality DOP (Denominazione d'origine Protetta) olive oil is produced.

What to see?

On the central square Piazza Mazzini is the Palazzo Comunale dating back to the 15th century, its tower is from the 13th century.

Il Complesso museale di San Francesco: a former abbey of Saint Francis.

Fonti del Clitunno (a natural system of wells and springs) and the Temple of Clitumnus.

Todi

Todi is another one of these medieval towns on top of a hill dominating the valley below where the Tiber passes. IN the centre one can recognise the Etruscan and Roman past. Small alleyways, a medieval athmosfere and wonderful views over the valley. Just outside the town's ancient walls is the Santa Maria della Consolazione that is also worth a visit.

What to see?

Piazza del Popolo is the main square in the centre of Todi. It is aligned with three impressive palaces. In the Palazzo del Capitano is the paninoteca, the Palazzo del Popolo has some nice archways and the Palazzo dei Priori (townhall) is symbolic for the town of Todi.

The cathedral is next to the Piazza del Popolo. Its facade is made of white and pink marmer.

The church of Santa Maria della Consolazione is not far from the railwaystation. It is outside the city walls and also called the pearl of Italian Ranaissance. This church was built based on designs of Bramante in the 16th century and has the shape of a Greek cross.

Blog posts:
Lunch in Acqualoreto near Todi
Visiting Todi
Archery Tournament in Todi

Deruta

Along the E45 is the town of Deruta, about 15 km South of Perugia. The little town was famous for its ceramics already in the 15th century. The majolica made here is of hogh quality and has its own style. It s handmade and therefore not very cheap. If you want to, you can visit some of the majolica factories. The old town itself is surrounded by defensive walls and there are several shops and restaurants in the centre on top of the hill.

What to see?

Museo Regionale della Ceramica in the former convent of Saint Francis. In the museum one can see quite a few antique pieces of majolica, but also some modern works.

Majolica fabriek Ubaldo Grazia. One can visit this factory. Its majolica production dates back to the 16th century.

Blog posts:
Deruta Umbria
Visiting the oldest majolica factory in Deruta

Perugia

Perugia is the capital of Umbria and was established by the Etruscans for its strategic position at a hill top 450 metres above sealevel. Nowadays there are elevators in different positions and the minimetrò that take you up to the city centre. There is much to see and do in this lively student town. To this day the city has about 9 kilometres of defensive walls dating from different periods. In the centre proudly stands the La Fontana Maggiore, maybe one of the most intriguing fountains in Italy. On the same square is the cathedral of Perugia, nearby is the Pozzo Etrusco (Etruscan well), and many other sights to see. Don't forget the Rocca Paolina where you can still walk through the antique streets that Pope Paolo III had ordered to destroy, building his own fortress on top. A late afternoon stroll over the Corso Cavour and the Corso Vanucci is surely worth your time.

In October the town hosts the yearly Eurochocolat event: it's all about chocolat and a very popular event among Italians. The town buzzes during Umbria Jazz, every year early July. It attracts artists from around the world.

What to see?

The Rocca Paolina can be reached from the Piazza Italia, or the lower situated Piazza Partigiani. 

Porta Marzia, one of the oldest Etruscan gates to the city.

Piazza IV novembre in the centre of Perugia at the end (or the beginning depending where you start) of the Corso Vanucci. 

The Fontana Maggiore was built late 13th century and is a masterpiece of the borthers Pisano. It's three levels represent stories from the bible.

Palazzo dei Priori built in the 13th century. ALong the Corso Vanucci is an entrance gate to the building with the two symbols of the city on to: the lion and the griffon. In the palace itself is the Sala dei Notari with some beautiful frescoes. In the Palazzo dei Priori also is the  "Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria".

Blog posts:
Pasticceria Sandri in Perugia
Restaurant in Perugia
Walking in Brufo near Perugia

Eurochocolate in Perugia

Assisi

Assisi is a Unesco World Heritage site. Saint Francis and Saint Clare were born in Assisi and it has become a pilgrimage destination of world renown. In Assisi one finds traces of its Roman past and many buildings date back to medieval times. It is built against the Mount Subasio and the nature reserve in the mountains behind the town is of impressive beauty.

What to see?

The Basilica di San Francesco is the first church dedicated to Saint Frincis and built on top of his tomb. There are two churches, the lower church and the upper church. The lower church leads to the crypte of Saint Francis. Its walls have frescoes about the live of the Saint and theabout the Agony of Christ. In the upperchurch one get admire beautiful frescoes of Giotto depicting stories from the bible and the life of Saint Francis.

The church of Saint Clara dates back to the 13th century, Gothic style. In this church the tomb of Saint Clara is kept and some of her scarse possesions. Also here are frescoes of Giotto and other Umbrian artists of that time.

Rocca Maggiore is a fortress built in the 14th century. A hike up to the fortress is rewarded by superb views over the surrounding area.

Piazza del Comune used to be a Roman forum with a Minerva temple, changed int a church later on. The entrance is still recognisable. There are several bars and good icecream on this square.

Blog posts:
Celebrate Christmas in Assisi Umbria
Saint Francis of Assisi

Foligno

Foligno has always been a city of traders and merchants. The historical centre has many alleyways and light coloured buildings. In the area of the Piazza della Repubblica are most sights to see and surely worth your while if you like some shopping. Every year in September is a big pasta event I Primi d'Italia where you can taste all kinds of pasta and risotto from all over Italy.

What to see?

Palazzo Trinci. There are paintings of Gentile da Fabriano, there is an archeological museum and a museum about the Middle Ages: tournaments, castles, knights and princesses.

Piazza della Repubblica is the central square from where you can easily reach the most important sights to see and where you will find several god restaurants and bars.

The Cathedral of San Feliciano is dedicated to the patron Saint of Foligno.

Blog posts:
Foligno and its cathedral of Sain Feliciano.
Pasta event in Foligno I Primi d'Italia

Spello

A beautiful Umbrian town built against the Mount Subasio, like Assisi. Little alleyways full of flowers linger up the hill in between beautiful medieval buildings. Spelli is on a hill and quite a walk going up. From the top the views around are beautiful, a landscape dotted witholive trees. Spello is famous for its flower decorations every year in occasion of Corpus Domini.It attracts many tourists, but is is really worthwhile to go and have a look. Real pieces of art made of flowers.

What to see?

In the Chiesa Santa Maria Maggiore is the Baglioni Chapel which was commisioned by Troilo Baglioni who died in 1506. The frescoes are from Pinturicchio who was a scolar from Il Perugino. It is a highlight of Renaissance art.

Pinacoteca Civica is next to the church Santa Maria Maggiore and is a museum with a masterpiece of Pinturicchio "Madonna con Bambino" and a wooden statute of Maria with child from the 13th century.


The North of Umbria

Città di Castello

A quiet little town still surrounded by its city walls. It is 50 kms north of Perugia and has a pleasant atmoshpere. There are some shops, restaurants, and some historical sights to visit. Every year in autumn there is an international truffle market, il tartufo bianco. 

What to see?

The Palace Vitelli alla Cannoniera from the 16th century. 

Museum of the Duomo next to the cathedral itself.

The Burri collection in the palazzo Albazzini with masterpieces of Alberto Burri.

Gubbio

In Gubbio it seems time has come to a standstill. It has a strong sense of the middle ages dominated by the Palazzo dei Consoli. Gubbio is situated against the hill of the Monte Ingino and has a splendid view over the valley. There are narrow streets where you can still imagine how it was in the middle ages. Gubbio is known for its ceramics and the yeary event Festa dei Ceri. A traditional event honouring the patron saint Sant'Ubaldo, every year on the 15th of May.

What to see?

The museo Civico di Palazzo dei Consoli. In the museum are tombs and th ehoghlight of the museum are seven bronze tables with inscriptions in Etruscan and old Umbrian language, nowadays non existent anymore. In the museum are also frescoes and ceramics from the area.

The remians of the Roman theatre is just outside of the town in the valley and was built in the 1st century. During summer often events are organised in the park where the Roman theatre is situated.

Via Galeotti, a beautiful street amongst the old building and ending at the Via dei Consoli.

Blog post:
Autumn in Gubbio
The largest Christmas tree in the world is in Gubbio!

Umbertide

Umbertide is not far to the north of Perugia and dates back to the year 1000. It is surrounded by walls and towers. In the medieval fortress now is the museum of modern art.

What to see?

Santa Maria della Reggio church in the centre of the town dating back to the 16th century.

Santa Croce church from the 17th century.

The abbey of San Salvatore Montecorona, 4 kms from Umbertide. One of the biggest abbeys in Umbria and full of spiritual atmosphere.

Montone

Montone is high upon a hill and a well kept medieval town. The views from Montone are beautiful. Andrea Forteabbraccio, son of the Count of Montone, also called Braccio da Montone was a famous military leader in the Renaissance between 1368 and 1424. He had an incredible military and political career at the time and was almost ready to declare the independent state of Central Italy in the 16th century but he died during the battle for Aquila.

What to see?

A small museum in the former church of Saint Francis with paintings and wooden sculptures from the 13th century.

The remains of the fortress of Braccio da Montone.

Blog posts:
Typical Umbrian restaurant in Montone: Tipico


The South of Umbria

Terni

Saint Valentine, the Saint of love, is the patron Saint of Terni. His tomb is on the same spot where you can now visit the Cathedral of Saint Valentine. Terni is an industrial town. Mainly thanks to the hydroelectric power plant in Marmore the steel industry florished here. The city itself has wide lanes, a nice shopping area and pleasant squares. Terni is the capital of the Southern Province of Umbria, Terni and when it comes to football a arch-rival from Perugia, the capital of the Northern province.

What to see?

Chiesa San Valentino with the relics of Saint Valentine, bisshop of Terni. 

Blog posts:
Valentine's Day in Terni
Acquasparta in the South of Umbria
Winetasting San Gemini Umbria

Marmore

De Cascata delle Marmore is an artificial waterfall, the highest in Europe with its 165 metres. The force of the water when they open the weir is impressive and a spectacular sight.The wtaer is used to drive the hydroelectric power plant that is in the valley below. One has top pay to enter the area but surely is worth it. One can hike in the area and follow the trail along the waterfall. Mind to check when the weirs are open ad the waterrfall comes down.

Blog post:
Cascata delle Marmore

Piediluco

The Piediluco lake is about 10 kms from Terni high up in the mountains, passing by at the Marmore falls. It is a beautiful mountain lake (cold water!), the village itself is small but quaint.

Carsulae

Carsulae is along the Roman road Via Flaminia. During the times of the Roman Emperors Carsulae was an important town because of its strategic position. Though it was a bustling centre during these times, it is now set in solitude, quietly resting in the green landscape of Umbria. Its ruins can be visited. One recognizes the Roman Forum, the basilica and the theatre. The entrance gate is still standing, the symbolic entrance to the old town.

Dunarobba

Close to Carsulae is Dunarobba, a small village but also a paleontological site where prehistoric trees were found and recuperated between 1979 and 1987. These trunks can now be visited. The trunks of trees that were found and are now in exposition in the Forrestafossile in Dunarobba are about 3 milion years old.

La Scarzuola

La Scarzuola is the "ideal city" of Tomaso Buzzi. The name derives from a marsh plant calles "scarza". Once there was a Franciscan abbey here erected by Saint Francis himself in 1218. Buzzi was an architect and bought the place in 1958. Until 1978 he created here is own ideal city with 7 theatres. It is all very surreal and fascinating full of mystery, labyrinths, towers and fantasy. You can visit this magical city in the midst of the green hills only after reservation.

Blog post: La Scarzuola

Narni

Narni has a well preserved medieval centre. There are caves to visit and the abbey of San Domenico. Narni had a crucial position in Roman times, aling the Via Flaminia. This Roman past is still recognizable in Narni.

What to see?

Narni Sotterranea are underground caves with the underground abbey of San Domenico.

Ponte di Augusto is a Roman bridge still in tact.

De Duomo has a small chapel inside dating from 558 with one of the oldest mozaics of the region.

Piazza dei Priori and Palazzo dei Podestà (paintings).

Chiesa San Domenico and opposite the Rocca with views over the Tiber valley.

Blog post:
Corsa all'Anello in Narni

Spoleto

Spoleto is a very charming little town with medieval and modern architecture. Saint Francis stayed in Spoleto and founded a hermitage on the holy mountain Monteluco. Via the Ponte delle Torri, aqueduct, one can walk up the Mount Monteluco. From the top the views of the Umbrian landscape and Spoleto are breathtaking. SPoleto is known worldwide for its festival "Spoleto Festival Dei 2 Mondi" founded by Giancarlo Menotti: the festival of two worlds.

What to see?

Santa Maria Assunta is the cathedral in Spoleto. Looking at it from the stairs towards the Piazza del Duomo is a sight you won't easily forget. Inside is the fresco of Filippo Lippi. On the square infront of the church is the final concert of the Festival dei 2 Mondi.

Ponte delle Torri is a bridge from the 14th century connecting the city to the castle of Spoleto. Originally this was a Roman acqueduct bringing water from the mount Monteluco to the city. The bridge has 10 high arches and in the middle a whole from where the views are amazing.

Rocca Albernoziana is the eye-catcher from Spoleto arriving on the Via Flaminia. This fortress used to be a prison, nowadays there are many cultural activities organised here during summer.

Blog posts:
Spoleto in pictures
Santa Maria Assunta in Spoleto
9cento casual restaurant in Spoleto Umbria

Valnerina

The Valnerina is an area with lots of forest and relatively unknown amongst tourists. The river Nera caved the valley with dotted with castles on hill tops. Aty the end of the Valnerina valley the Appenine mountain range starts with the Parco dei Monti Sibbilini, Norcia and Castellucio di Norcia.

What to see?

San Pietro in Valle is one of the most beautiful abbeys built in the 11th century. During the middle ages and the Renaissance frescoes have been added.

Ferentillo is a village near San Pietro in Valle. It is a small village and has a real mummy museum.

Blog posts:

Bar in Valnerina
Mummies in Ferentillo

Orvieto

Orvietois impressively situated high upon the rocks of tuff. It has one of the most beaitiful cathedrals of Italy and of course world famous white wines. It is a labyrinth of small alleyways with nice shops and restaurants. The city is fairly touristic but still managed to keep its charme. Every year in April/May there is an ice cream festival here: I Gelati d'Italia en in the winter there is Orvieto Jazz, the winter edition of Umbria Jazz.

What to see?

The cathedral can be seen from afar arriving at Orvieto and is situated n the centre. It realy is an eye catcher. Standing in fron of the church you don't know where to look first: the mosaics, the rose window, the many sculptures. It is all impressive.

Orvieto Sotterranea (underground) has 440 caves of which part can be visited. The tourist office organises guided tours in the Parco delle Grotte. These caves once were water reservoirs, stone pits, wine caves and even caves to hide in during world war II.

Corso Cavour and Torre del Moro. From the Piazza della Repubblica starts the Corso Cavour, the main street of the town. The tower is 42 m high and its name derives from the head of the Saracens who lived here.

The Pozzo di San Patrizio is a waterwell built in the 16th century commissioned by the Pope who then lived in Orvieto. The well was supposed to give water to the town in times of besiege. It is an impressive structure, 54 metres deep, with two staircases, one going down, the other going up, that never cross eachother. This way the mules that were used to carry the water could continue their work without having to wait for the other mule to come back.

Blog posts:
The Duomo in Orvieto
Restaurant in Orvieto
Woodcraft in Orvieto