Tuesday, November 19, 2013

                                          UMBRIA

The Region of Umbria, which is a neighbor of Tuscany, shares much of the same landscape. There are some very interesting cities and towns to visit in Umbria, many which you have heard of, and others which may be new to you. For example, those familiar to you might be Perugia and Assisi. Others not so familiar might include Ascoli, Piceno, Pescara, Todi, Montefalco, Spoleto, or Gubbio.
Here is a sample of some towns worth visiting in Umbria:

Perugia, Umbria's capital and largest town, is a lively hill town with Etruscan and medieval roots. There's a lot to do and see in Perugia and since it's well served by public transportation, it makes a good base for exploring Umbria's hill towns. Perugia has a good Italian language school, a world famous jazz festival, and a chocolate festival. 
Piazza in Perugia

Spoleto is a walled hill town and one of the largest towns in southern Umbria. Spoleto has Etruscan, Roman, and medieval sites. Above Spoleto is a medieval Rocca and spanning the deep gorge to one side of the Rocca is Spoleto's most famous sight, Ponte delle Torri or Bridge of Towers (shown in the photo). The world famous Festival dei due mondi, two worlds festival, is held in Spoleto in late June through early July.
Bridge of Towers or Ponte del Torri in Spolet
Lake Trasimeno is one of Italy's largest lakes. Three picturesque islands can be reached by ferry and there are beaches around the lake. One of the prettiest towns is Castiglione del Lago with a medieval center and castle by the lake. The lake was the site of a famous battle between Hannibal and Rome.

Montefalco is a stunning and beautiful town located in the heart of Umbria, and offers some interesting attraction for tourists. The ancient walls of the town, cobbled streets, stone buildings along with the medieval architecture with some lovely churches and cathedrals, are some of the main highlights of this town. Just across the Spoleto valley, Montefalco offers some of the best scenic glimpse of the landscape along this region. You can find some lovely orchards and olive groves along with vineyards in this lovely town. Try the local red, called Montefalco.
Beautiful rolling hills of Montefalco with vineyards, orchards and olives

Assisi is famous as the home town of Saint Francis, or San Francesco, the patron saint of Italy. The Saint Francis Basilica in Assisi holds the tomb of Saint Francis and is a popular tourist and pilgrimage destination. Assisi also has several other interesting churches, Roman ruins, medieval sites, museums, and shops in its walled medieval center. There are good walks from town into the nearby countryside. 
St. Francis of Assisi Basilica
Because Umbria is not too large an area, it makes for easy driving and access to many of its towns. It also abuts Tuscany near  the area of Cortona.