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Last updated : Nov 2007
Umbria
Umbria - TravelPuppy.com
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.

Lake Trasimeno 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.

Perugia

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 from Siena.

Assisi

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

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.

Spoleto

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.

Gubbio & Todi

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.