Italy’s Umbria region is bordered by the regions of Tuscany, Lazio and LeMerche. It has lovely medieval towns perched on hills, dense forests, vineyards and olive groves, and fabulous truffle dishes. St. Francis was born and lived in the Umbria region. Perugina Chocolates calls the region home, there’s a festival that involves a town carpeting the streets with flowers, pork is king and it’s the only place in the world where you find natively grown sagrantino grapes. GetAway Travel advisors are ready to plan your adventure to Italy’s Umbria region.
Perugia, Spello and Assisi
Perugia, the capital of Umbria, has some fabulous examples of Renaissance architecture and Baci chocolates. Stop by the National Gallery of Umbria where the largest collection of Umbrian artworks, including paintings by Pinturicchio and Perugino are on display. Collections include artwork from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
The National Archeological Museum of Umbria is located in San Domenico in Perugia. It is the largest church in Umbria and in addition to having lots of interesting artifacts on display, it has enormous Gothic-style stained glass windows.
The Casa del Cioccolato Perugina is a factory that also features a museum dedicated to the history of chocolate manufacturing as well as a school that offers classes. A raised area around the factory allows visitors to see the Baci workshop and production line. Since 1922 the Italian Baci (or kisses) has been recognized around the world as an iconic chocolate bite. It is rich chocolate with a hazelnut filling, a whole hazelnut on top covered with a double coating of chocolate. Yum!
Perugia is home to EuroChocolate, one of the world’s largest and most assorted chocolate exhibitions. The annual festival draws upwards of a million tourists.
Spello is a walled city that offers gorgeous views of the countryside. Many of the town buildings are constructed of subasio marble. At sunrise and sunset the marble takes on a pinkish hue which makes for fabulous pictures. Aficionados of Renaissance art should visit the Baglioni Chapel and the Collegiate di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Spello is the host of the Inflorata Festival. The centuries-old festival is for the flower obsessed. Groups of villagers band together and create fabulous floral carpets that are laid out on the streets the 9th Sunday after Easter. The groups spend much of the year collecting and growing specific flowers for their carpet designs.
Try the local floral gelato specialties including the lavender flavor. The lavender is used with a deft hand and it is considered quite tasty.
Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the city of Assisi. St. Clare is the patron saint of television and computer screens. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Assisi is regarded as one of the world’s most important artistic, cultural and religious destinations. The Basilica di San Francesco is where St. Francis was laid to rest. The outside might seem a little pedestrian, but the interior is stunning. There are striking frescoes across the walls and ceiling. Many think the interior is nicer than the Sistine Chapel.
Historic sites, wine and tasty options
The medieval bridge in Spoleto offers great views of the countryside. It is home to several historic churches including the Church of Sant’ Eufemia. Constructed in Romanesque style, the interior has beautiful stone mosaics and reliefs. The National Museum of the Ducato di Spoleto illustrates the history of the region with frescoes, artwork and sculptures.
Bevagna is thought to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Settlements in the area date back to the Iron Age, and it became a town during the Roman Empire. There is an old Roman temple and theater in town.
Orvieto is an Etruscan town perched on a soft limestone hill in Umbria. There are underground rooms and tunnels that were built under the city throughout the centuries. Talk to your travel advisor because tours must be booked in advance.
Orvieto Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Golden mosaics decorate the facade which is why it is nicknamed the Golden Lily. Inside you can see masterpieces by Luca Signorelli and Francesco Mochi. Nearby vineyards produce Classico wines.The fresh, aromatic white wines are made from Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.
The landscape around Montefalco is blanketed with vineyards because it is the only place in the world where sagrantino grapes are grown natively. Azienda Agricola produced here is thought to be an extraordinary red wine. The famous La Strada Del Sagrantino winery is just outside of Montefalco. There are wine trails and wine routes for visitors to follow and horse-drawn carriage tasting tours of the various wineries are also offered.
The regions of Italy lay claim to some fabulous regional dishes and Umbria is no exception. This region is responsible for more truffle production than any other region in Italy. Enjoy gnocchi or strangozzi pasta with truffles. But remember, pretty much anything, except maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, benefits with the addition of truffles.
Try a porchetta sandwich. The pork is heavily seasoned and garnished to bring out the flavor and since the pigs help themselves to wild fennel, acorns and chestnuts, their meat has a unique flavor. You’ll also find boar, deer and pigeon on the menu. The area’s most famous meat product is prosciutto. It is a protected product which means there is a minimum of a years worth of effort put into making it including salting and seasoning. Then it is certified by Prosciutto di Norcia.
Scafata is a traditional Italian stew with fava beans, Swiss chard, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, chili peppers, pancetta, carrots, onions, celery and rosemary. Legumes and lentils grow well in the area and are featured in many dishes.