Tag Archives: umbria

Landlocked Umbria: Italy’s fascinating “green heart”

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. 

Perugia is 100 miles north of Rome and 90 miles southeastt of Florence

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! 

Italian Baci

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 built from stone retains it’s medieval aspect

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.  

Alley with gorgeous flowers in Spello

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

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. 

Walking up to the Basilica of St Francis Assisi

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. 

Exterior of St Eufemia church

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.

Bevagna, Italy

 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. 

Walkway in Orvieto

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.  

Stunning facade of the Orvieto Cathedral

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. 

Vineyards in autumn near Montefalco

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. 

strangozzi pasta with 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. 

prosciutto crudo

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. 

Porchetta sandwiches ready for sale

Is a visit to the Umbria region on your wish list? GetAway Travel is here to make travel wishes come true. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 






Add Assisi to your list of places to go in Italy

Assisi is a hill town in central Italy, but it is not in Tuscany – it is in the Province of Perugia in the Umbria region. A visit to the Medieval town of Assisi is essential; a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its  represents “a series of masterpieces of man‘s creative spirit.”  The town revolves around its most renowned citizen, St. Francis, Patron Saint of Italy: from the Basilica, which is dedicated to the Saint and contains his tomb, to the hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri), a few kilometers outside the town walls, where St. Francis used to retreat in prayer.

Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.  Born in Italy circa 1182, Saint Francis of Assisi was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison — awaiting his father’s payment — and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God.

After his release from prison, Francis heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian Church and live a life of poverty. Consequently, he abandoned his life of luxury and became a devotee of the faith, his reputation spreading all over the Christian world.

St Francis returns from war

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The way grocery shopping should always be

We’re talking “market day” in Italy!  Nearly every town in Tuscany and Umbria have a weekly market day and there is nothing more special than being a part of one.

Usually held in the mornings, the town square is filled with dozens of trucks with literally everything from fruit to nuts.  There will be stalls selling shoes, clothing, olives, bread, meats, cheeses and everything in between.  Now don’t get us wrong, this is not a tourist attraction, this is how the locals shop and it’s amazing to be able to participate.  We love to sample our way through the market, always buying things to eat throughout the rest of our trip or to pack for our family back home  When we aren’t sampling we are photographing the array of items for sale.  On our Wine Centric Italy trip in October 2014 we’ll be experiencing market day in Greve in the Chianti region.  I know we’ve said it before, this is another one of those experiences you must have when visiting Italy.

Wine-centric Italy 2014

In October 2014 we are hosting a very special small group wine experience to Italy with Vino Etcetera sommelier Corienne Winkels.

Our very first information night will be Tuesday January 7, 2014 at Vino Etcetera, 120 E Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, WI.  Please RSVP (262-538-2140 or sue@getaway.travel) if you plan on attending.  We promise lots of fun and perhaps even some Italian Wine!


So what’s so great about this trip?  Only 24 people are going, so it promises to be an intimate and relaxed tour.  And if you’re wondering how much fun we have – just ask anyone that went with us to Burgundy & Provence in 2013.  Our France wine trip was a most memorable and fantastic time, with Italy shaping up every bit as amazing.

During our tour you will discover: The Eternal City – Rome, the worlds smallest state – Vatican City, the classic Tuscan hill town of Cortona, Umbria’s grand hill town of Orvieto, the picturesque renaissance town of Montepulciano, the small town with the powerful wine – Brunello, the medieval city of Siena and the unofficial capital of Chianti – Greve.

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We have lots of wine tastings and winery visits planned – note these are not ones found on “normal” tourist routes, but quite boutique and hand selected just for this trip.  Preliminary details are available on our web page, with more information coming soon.