|Sometimes referred to
as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is a small,
hilly and fairly untouched region located between Umbria
and Marche, with little industry and few towns
of any great size. The landscape is similar to that of Umbria
and combines austere Medieval architecture and stone farmhouses
with gently rolling hills and rivers.
is contained within the Trasimeno Regional Park,
and serves as a seasonal home to many species of migrating birds,
while the River Nera Regional Park contains the
Marmore Waterfalls, the highest falls in Italy.
Umbria’s rich history is still very much in evidence with
traces of Umbri, Etruscan and Roman
cultures exist alongside Medieval and Renaissance architecture in
towns such as Assisi, Orvieto, Perugia and Spoleto.
Umbria’s capital has been continuously inhabited for over
25 centuries and contains many Etruscan and Roman
remains. Particularly notable are the ancient Etruscan city walls,
the Piazza IV Novembre with the Cathedral, and
the Fontana Maggiore (Great Fountain). On the top
floor of the 14th-century Palazzo dei Priori, the
Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria contains one
of the world’s finest collections of Renaissance paintings,
with works by Piero della Francesca, Perugino, Beato Angelico
and others. The state-funded Università per Stranieri
(University for Foreigners) offers courses for foreigners wishing
to study Italian language and civilisation. Perugia is less than
two hours travelling by car from Florence and Rome, and one hour
A picturesque Medieval hilltown located to the east of Perugia,
Assisi is famous as the birthplace of St
Francis, founder of the Franciscan order of monks. The
life of St Francis is commemorated in frescoes by Giotto
in the 13th-century Basilica di San Francesco,
one of Italy’s best-loved and most-visited churches. Other
interesting sites include the Basilica di Santa Maria degli
Angeli and the Roman Temple of Minerva.
Orvieto is a Medieval city sitting on a volcanic outcrop. The well-preserved
city centre has a number of sites and buildings dating from the
Etruscan period. Orvieto’s most memorable monument is the
Duomo (Cathedral), which cleverly mixes Romanesque
and Gothic styles.
The peaceful streets of the romantic hilltown of Spoleto
come alive each year for the world-renowned Summer Festival
which features music, theatre and a range of other cultural events.
The town has several interesting Roman monuments, including the
classical Arch of Druso and the Roman Theatre,
and the Medieval Ponte delle Torri bridge and a
number of delightful Romanesque churches.
Other important Umbrian towns include Gubbio, a
well-preserved Medieval town situated at the bottom of Mount
Ingino and home to the famous Gubbio Tablets,
the oldest surviving record of the Umbrian people and Todi, overlooking
the Tiber valley, whose beautiful Medieval square
is surrounded by a wealth of historic buildings, including the 13th-century
Palazzo del Popolo, the Palazzo del Capitano
and the Cathedral.