An Introduction to Umbria, Italy
Umbria is a region in the center of Italy, landlocked in the Apennine Mountains. Its location makes Umbria a natural paradise, with green hills and mountain peaks where you will find blue lakes, waterfalls, and rivers.
The region is also home to incredibly preserved medieval hilltop towns and century-old traditions. If you are looking for a nature-centered gateway or one for experiencing authentic Italian traditions, then Umbria is for you!
Things to See & Do in Umbria
Perugia, the region’s charming capital city, is one of Umbria’s unmissable places. Its historic center is all about cobbled alleys, arched stairways, and squares with stunning “palazzi” (mansions) and churches. Don’t miss the Gothic Palazzo dei Priori hosting the National Gallery of Umbria.
One of Italy’s best religious landmarks is the town of Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi. Particularly striking is the Unesco-listed Basilica di San Francesco, visible from miles around, which holds Saint Francis’ tomb.
Spoleto is another wonderful town in Umbria you should visit. A still intact Roman-era amphitheater and a series of Romanesque churches show Spoleto’s layers of history. Breathtaking, the Duomo stands on a hillside square so that you can see it from every corner of the town.
You will also gasp at the Medieval Ponte delle Torri, a 10-arch bridge that spectacularly passes over a ravine to connect two fortresses. One such fortress is Rocca Albornoziana, which houses today’s National Museum of the Duchy of Spoleto.
Orvieto is one of Umbria’s best attractions. The medieval historic center might not look that special at first glimpse, but it has an extraordinary building, the Duomo, one of Italy’s greatest Gothic churches.
With a one-of-a-kind facade and, on the inside, the mesmerizing fresco called “Giudizio Universale” (Last Judgment) by painter Signorelli, Orvieto’s cathedral is an absolute must-see! In Orvieto, you can also go underground to discover its 440 caves used for millennia by locals for various purposes.
Umbria is a true paradise for outdoorsy and sporty people who love being surrounded by pristine nature. The National Park of Sibillini Mountains has some amazing treks for all levels of hikers. You will find other fantastic hiking trails on Mount Vettore to discover caves and gorges along the way. If more sporty activities are your jam, head to Monte Cucco for hang gliding and paragliding or to the Nera River for kayaking, rafting, and canyoning.
For an extra special Umbrian getaway, visit it during a traditional festival or renewed event. Particularly popular are the “Corsa dei Ceri”, in the town of Gubbio, and “Eurochocolate”, one of Europe’s largest chocolate exhibitions, hosted in Perugia.
Secret Gems of Umbria
Perched on the Sibillini Mountains, the 13th-century village of Castelluccio di Norcia is a pretty popular destination among Italians but usually unknown to foreigners. What’s unique about this place is the so-called “Fioritura di Castelluccio” (Flowering of Castelluccio), when between late June and mid-July the large plateau of lentil fields blossom and transform the lands around the village into a magical spectacle of different colors.
Walking into the fields or riding a motorbike on the streets that crisscross around them will make for an unforgettable memory!
Food & Drink of Umbria
Umbria’s food scene is just great. The region produces many incredible delicacies which you should try during your vacation.
Black truffles, wild asparagus, cheese varieties like Pecorino di Norcia, cured meats (must-try: Norcia ham), and legumes (don’t forget the lentils from Castelluccio di Norcia!) are all incredible food products that you will on the table of every Umbro (as a person from Umbria region is called).
Try truffles on a Bruschetta or with Strangozzi, a spaghetti-like pasta shape from the region. Strangozzi can also be tasted with wild hare ragù or a Trasimeno Lake sauce made from lake perch filets and chili peppers.
Another typical pasta sauce is made from wild boar, slow-cooked to make the meat juicy and tender. There’s no better way to sample Umbria’s legumes than by having imbrecciata (also spelled ‘Mbrecciata): a soup of lentils, beans, corn, chickpeas, and cicerchie (wild chickpeas).
Among the region’s main courses, try Gallina Ubriaca (which literally translates to “drunken hen”), a hen cooked in plenty of Orvieto wine. Colombaccio Selvatico is a typical main dish from Terni made from turtledove cooked on the spit.
For dessert, chocolate is what to eat. Treat yourself to a Baci Perugina, small balls of fine dark chocolate filled with a chocolate-hazelnut cream center and a whole hazelnut.