Umbria, Italy. 5 villages worth visiting in autumn

Umbria

The region of Umbria is located in central Italy, north of Lazio. It includes two provinces: Terni, the administrative center with the same name, and Perugia, its administrative center, the city of Perugia, is also the capital of the region.

The Italians themselves call Umbria the “green heart” of the country: there are many olive groves, vineyards and large forests. There is even a waterfall, which is among the highest in Europe. Its highest point is 165 meters above sea level, and the cascade (Cascata delle Marmore) is located in the hills around the town of Marmora near the town of Terni. Small mountains and highlands are the Umbrian landscape, the plains cover over 6% of the territory.

Umbria region

General Info

Umbria has a population of almost 900 thousand, but in Terni only a little over 200 thousand people; the province has been a part of the region very recently, in 1927. There are no large industrial enterprises; 95% of the companies registered on the territory of the region are small, their number of employees usually does not exceed 10 people. Umbria, on the other hand, has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 5.2%.

Umbria has a typical continental climate, with cool winters (+2º C in January) and dry, warm summers (average temperature in July +22º C). The mountains are colder and rainier, with temperatures averaging only 11ºC above sea level in Norcia, which is more than 60 meters above sea level.

Favorable weather conditions have influenced the development of agriculture: Umbria grows olives, grapes, grains and tobacco. Umbria is known as a major supplier of black truffles. Also in the region are developed tourism and food industry, a large number of small craft businesses.

It is worth noting that domestic tourism plays a greater role in the region’s revenues than foreign. Highly “promoted” Tuscany (Toscana), which borders with Umbria, pulls the main stream of foreign tourists who are willing to pay quite high amounts in order to spend there a week or two. Therefore Italians themselves prefer to rest in Umbria, where prices are much lower and there are plenty of sights to see.

How to get there

There are no direct flights from Russia to the capital of the region. The airport is located in the suburbs of Sant’Egidio and is served by some European low-cost airlines: Ryanair from London, Wizzair from Bucharest, Albawings and Mistral Air from Tirana. So it’s easiest to fly to Rome and Florence, and from there you can get to Perugia by train or bus.

An ideal option is to travel around Umbria on your own by rental car.

Trains

To get from Rome to Perugia by train, you should change once in Foligno. This is the cheapest option: one way ticket costs 11.65 euros, the journey takes at least 2 hours and 40 minutes; for change you will have 15-20 minutes. Carefully check the schedule and prices, they vary a lot. There are also some direct flights (same price), but they leave in the afternoon.

Important: this option does not work on Sundays; you have to look for others, for example, go via Terontola-Cortona. The price is one euro higher and the travel time is longer – from 3 hours and 15 minutes. Direct flights are also available on Sundays.

There are also direct services between Perugia and Florence – about 5 trains a day . The ticket price is slightly less than 15 euros, the average travel time is 2 hours and 10 minutes. The option to change trains in Terontola-Cortona will cost the same amount and the travel time will increase by 10 minutes.

The high-speed train takes an hour and a half and leaves from Florence (Firenze S.M.Novella station) at 21:42. Ticket prices start at 21 euros. A pleasant surprise: if you plan to travel to Perugia on Saturday or Sunday, the same train can reach your destination for only 9.9 euros.

Read about train prices, schedules and tickets in the article.

Buses

A bus runs five times a day on weekdays and three times on weekends and holidays from Rome’s Fiumicino airport through the Tiburtina station to Perugia. The trip takes two hours and costs 17 euros (sulga.it).

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Also from Rome you can get to Perugia on the comfortable buses Flixbus for only 5 euros.

Bus schedule from Rome to Perugia

From Florence to Perugia you can travel by bus twice a day also for only 5 euros if you buy the ticket in advance.

Bus schedule from Florence to Perugia

Gourmets

Black truffles

The gastronomic preferences of the region’s residents deserve a special mention. In addition to the truffles already mentioned, which come from here to other regions of Italy and beyond, Umbria is famous for its cured meats and sausages made in the municipality of Norcia. Some locally produced pork delicacies are protected by geographical designation, meaning they cannot be produced elsewhere.

As for truffles, during the season you can taste a variety of dishes with the addition of these amazing gifts of nature, such as the traditional Umbrian pasta with black truffles.

The regional cuisine is full of poultry and game dishes: geese, ducks, pigeons, pheasants, hares, etc. One of Perugia’s specialties is gnocchi (potato dumplings) with goose ragu. And the traditional dessert is the cake named after St. Constantius, the patron saint of the city (Torcolo de San Costanzo) – in the shape of a large bagel, with raisins, aniseed and pine nuts.

Bacio

Another great love of the locals is chocolate. At the beginning of the XX century in Perugia was founded candy production, as a trademark was chosen the name “perugina” (Perugina). Today in many regions of Italy it is synonymous with the word “chocolate”, and the most popular among Italians are the products of Bacio.

In the second half of October in Perugia takes place the Eurochocolate Festival. The festival was first held in 1994 and was conceived as a kind of analog of the beer Oktoberfest, only for sweet-tooth people.

Sagrantino di Montefalco

To match the culinary delights of the region and its wines, the most famous of which are white wines from Orvieto. Winemaking in Umbria started recently, about 30 years ago.

The production volume is not large yet, but the product is of excellent quality. Worth a try is Sagrantino di Montefalco, produced from the Sagrantino grape, a variety which only grows here in the province of Perugia. It has been cultivated since Roman times and in the Middle Ages it was the prerogative of the monks. Today, it is made in very limited quantities.

Attractions

Umbria has many monuments of great interest to anyone interested in the history and culture of Italy. There are many monasteries in the region; Umbria is the birthplace of several monastic orders: Franciscan, Benedictine, Clarisse.

Perugia

The main attraction of the capital of Umbria, Perugia, is the Palazzo dei Priori, built in the XIII-XIV centuries. It is still the seat of the city council. The facade of the monumental institution is decorated with bronze figures of griffins and a lion, symbols of the city. They are copies; the originals, created in the second half of the XIII century in Venice, are kept here in the National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale dell Umbria).

Right in front of the palace is the Great Fountain (Fontana Maggiore), another symbol of Perugia. It was built in XIII century. The fountain consists of two pools – upper and lower, richly decorated with bas-reliefs, columns and statues.

St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro), situated two kilometers from the main square, is known since 1002. The sacristy of the church contains frescoes by Raffaello Santi and Pietro Perugino.

Church of the Holy Archangel Michael

The Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Chiesa di Sant’Angelo) is a unique monument, the likes of which can be counted on the fingers of one hand in Italy. It belongs to the early Christian religious buildings and dates back to the V-VI centuries AD.

Assisi

Assisi is about 35 km from Perugia. It was here that St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order, was born in 1182. Saint Clara of Assisi was also born in Assisi; she was one of the first to accept the teachings of St Francis and, in turn, founded the Clariscan order of women.

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One of the most famous ascetics of the Catholic Church is buried in his homeland, in Il Sacro Convento, which bears his name and is the spiritual center of the Franciscan monks. The relics of the saint rest in the Basilica of St. Francis (La Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi), located in the monastery. The construction of the church began in 1228, immediately after the canonization of the saint.

The unique construction consists of two parts. The later one, finished by the middle of the XIII century, stands on the top of the hill. The lower part of the church is hidden in its thickness. The lower and upper churches were painted by Giotto di Bondone, possibly by Pietro Lorenzetti and other Proto-Renaissance artists.

Basilica of St. Francis

Nowadays the monastery complex, together with the church, is on the list of historical sites protected by UNESCO.

The proximity to Perugia allows you to get to Assisi by cab, but it is better to use the services of the Italian rail network, spending 3 euros for the trip and from 20 minutes to half an hour.

Gubbio

Gubbio is an ancient and very beautiful town located 45 km northeast of Perugia. Once difficult to get to the city, it has long maintained its independence and secluded position. Largely due to its location and the desire of its rulers to stay apart, many historic buildings, including ancient ones, have survived here.

The city is built on the hills; you can get from its lower levels to the streets in the upper part of the city by numerous elevators or by funicular (www.funiviagubbio.it).

At more than 800 m above sea level stands the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, patron saint of the city. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century on the site of the small church in which the saint was buried.

Consul's Palace

Below, in Piazza Maggiore, is the Palazzo dei Consoli, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

Gubbio does not have its own train station, so you can only get to the city by car or by bus (umbriamobilita.it). The duration of the trip is about one hour and ten minutes.

Orvieto

Orvieto is southwest of Umbria, 90 km from Perugia and 70 km from Terni. In ancient times, it was one of the main centers of the Etruscan civilization; today only a necropolis remains. In the depths of the tufaceous hill on which the city stands, numerous galleries and passages have been dug and can be reached by organized excursions.

cathedral

The main attraction of the city is the cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto) in the Gothic style, construction of which began at the end of the XIII century. Its unique feature are the mosaic frescoes that decorate the outside of the cathedral. The mosaic has been made by masters for more than 200 years, a technique that is unusual for the Italian architecture of the time, making the cathedral of Orvieto one of a kind. It is noteworthy that the restoration of the cathedral, which was carried out in the 1840s, was attended by architects from Russia, including Nikolai Benois.

Orvieto can be reached by train from both Perugia (2 hours on average) and Terni (a little over an hour); the ticket costs 7.55 euros and 5.4 euros respectively.

  • See photos and descriptions of the main sights in Orvieto.

Spoleto

Spoleto, once considered one of the most beautiful colonies of Ancient Rome, is just 40 km from Terni. A reminder of those times is the 200 meter long aqueduct and the arch built in 23 B.C. In the numerous churches of the city you can trace its history: there are buildings of the V century and less old, built in the X-XI centuries. The Cathedral of Spoleto, named after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta), was built in 1175 in place of the old one, destroyed by Friedrich Barbarossa, whose troops twenty years earlier had destroyed many buildings in the city. The bell tower was added later, in the XIII century.

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Albornociana Fortress

The tallest building in the city is the Rocca Albornoziana. It was built in the XIV century, and for a time it served as a residence of the local dukes. Since 1817 it was used as a prison and nowadays it houses a museum.

Things to do

Umbria is a region you’ll always find something to do once you’ve done your traditional sightseeing program.

In February, Terni hosts Cioccolentino, a celebration of Valentine’s Day, born in the city, combined with a chocolate festival with tastings, workshops, contests, etc.

In February and March at the Norcia Fair, it is possible to taste different dishes with truffles and to take part in a “silent hunt” for these mushrooms.

In spring (April-May) Castiglione del Lago hosts the Colourful Skies kite festival. On the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May Assisi becomes a city of spring to celebrate the arrival of spring with the “Calendimaggio of May”. There are costume parades, elections for the Madonna of Spring and parades of bands and flag-bearers. And in Gubbio, on May 15, the Festa dei Ceri, dedicated to the town’s patron saint, St. Ubaldo, is held. Once giant wax candles were carried through the city, but nowadays they are wooden structures with sculptures of saints, each weighing up to 300 kg.

Summer is a time of music festivals, the most famous of which, Umbria Jazz, takes place in July in Perugia. The autumn is also rich in events. So, at the end of September and beginning of October, Terni hosts a military festival Giostra dell’Arme – a historical holiday with costume parades, military bands, horseback tournaments, etc. A couple of other truffle fairs can be visited in October and November in Gubbio and at the end of November in Valtopina.

Where to stay

Check out our section for tips on choosing hotels and farmhouses in Umbria.

Umbria

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Pristine nature with beautiful landscapes, little rivers with waterfalls, mountains and hills densely covered with green, picturesque villages and medieval castles. All this is Umbria, surrounded by romance and pristine beauty. There are no industrial cities here, and therefore – the air is still crystal clear. There are not many tourists, so you can take your time and enjoy the local beauty. Umbria is unique in that it has no borders with other countries and no access to the sea. It is no less beautiful and rich in history than neighboring Tuscany, but not spoiled by the tourist demand. Therefore, the prices are quite democratic, and the service is offered in full.

Interesting places in Umbria

Popular attractions, museums and galleries

Every town or village has something noteworthy. Mostly basilicas, monasteries and churches decorated with frescoes of unprecedented beauty. Etruscan traces are present almost everywhere in the form of ruins, sections of walls with gates and necropolises. Since Roman colonization, Umbria has preserved many ancient sites, from fortifications, bridges and strategic roads (via Flaminia) to amphitheatres designed for entertainment events. The Medieval period was marked by castles and Gothic churches, and the Renaissance by the appearance of a new, Umbrian trend in painting, which won the hearts of the Romans and Florentines.

Recommended to visit

Church of Nuova in Assisi

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Cozy rest with a local flavor

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Culture & Traditions

Culinary traditions, handicrafts, memorable dates and important events

Umbria is one of those regions where traditions are still carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation. This not only enlivens the local culture, but also attracts the attention and curiosity of tourists. Many important events take place in Umbria: festivals, fairs, and historical reenactments. Some of them are known far beyond Italy. Regardless of how famous and large-scale they are, these events are in any case characterized by a focus on the traditional past.

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Brozzetti Museum and Atelier

What to try in Umbria

The cuisine of Umbria is based on ancient peasant traditions and presents a rich variety of dishes and local products. Among the typical dishes of Umbrian cuisine in the first place are certainly the dishes based on mushrooms and truffles. They are mostly used to make flavorful sauces and dressings for pasta, which in Italy is served for the first course. Among the second dishes, roast lamb and pheasant in pots are the most popular. The most famous desserts are ciramicola, tozzetti, torcolo di San Constanzo, castagnole, rocciata, frappe and pampepato.

In addition, in Umbria there is a great variety of sausages, cheeses and wines, many of which are marked DOC.

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DOC Colli Perugini wines

Anniversaries and important events

One of the most important and oldest folkloric events in Umbria is the Festa dei Ceri, a religious procession held on May 15 in Gubbio every year since the end of the twelfth century. Another intriguing event is the Palio della Balestra, a crossbow shooting competition held in Gubbio since the fifteenth century.

At the end of May and beginning of June, Spello hosts an unforgettable event called the Infiorata. On the 50th day after the Catholic Easter, the whole pictures of fresh flowers in the streets and squares are laid out, the length of which is 1.5 kilometers!

And in Perugia every year there is a jazz festival. For 10 days in July, the city center is transformed into a music scene. Many of the concerts are completely free. In October, there’s also a huge chocolate festival that many people try to get to. For 10 days there is truly heaven for those with a sweet tooth.

EXCURSIONS

Preview and individual, gastronomic and thematic excursions in Russian

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The Etruscan city of Perugia

Stroll through the historic capital of Umbria

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Sagrantino Wine Road Town Tour

Oenogastronomic trip through the cities of Perugia

When to go to Umbria

The colorful towns and villages of the region are best visited during the warm season, starting in early spring and ending in late fall. In winter it will not be too cozy to wander the deserted streets, especially since the daylight hours at this time of year is shortened to a minimum, and the weather can fail. A visit to Umbria can be timed to coincide with one of the regional festivals: the Festival of Chocolate or Jazz in Perugia, the Infiorata in Spello or the Festival of the Middle Ages in Gubbio.

Summer and fall will appeal to eco-tourists who dream of a quiet, hearty holiday in Umbria. At this time of year, new crops ripen, cheeses and wines are made and tourists are treated to different delicacies. They are offered active holidays, hiking for black truffles, trips to Lake Trasimeno and to Marmora, the highest waterfall in Europe.

Weather

The territory of the region is protected by mountain ranges from the influence of air masses coming from the sea coasts. As a result, the valleys and hilly areas have a continental climate characterized by hot summers and cool winters. The Umbrian mountains often receive heavy rainfall in spring and summer, while in winter the thermometer can fall below freezing. The average annual temperature varies depending on the altitude of the area above sea level. It should be noted that the “warmest” flat area of Umbria includes less than ten percent of the region. More than 60 percent are hills, and the rest are mountains.

Popular Cities

Interesting cities worth visiting

Castiglione del Lago

History

History of the region, important events and dates

Historians and archaeologists claim that the territory of present-day Umbria was inhabited as early as two thousand years B.C. by Umbrian tribes, which gave the area its name. The conflict lasted for several centuries until the ancient Romans appeared in the Tiber valley and managed to take over the entire Umbrian and Etruscan territory. This happened in the 3rd century B.C.

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After the loss of imperial power, the Romans could not withstand stronger opponents who wanted to establish themselves on Umbrian soil. These were the Ostgoths, the Lombards and the Byzantines, whose memory in Umbria is preserved in hard-to-reach castles. In the second half of the 6th century the Lombards took a direct part in the creation of the Duchy of Spoleta, which existed until the beginning of the 13th century. The cities that were part of the duchy had the status of independent cities. Local princes feuded with each other, engaging in direct conflicts, which eventually led to the disintegration of the single entity and the emergence of separate senorias. Gradually they all came under the patronage of the Papal States, under whose patronage they were until Umbria was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Interesting things about the region

Curious facts and figures, important personalities

  • Saint Francis, who was later to become the founder of the Franciscan order, was born in Assisi at the end of the 12th century. The monk himself led an ascetic life, to which he urged his followers. His teachings were focused on humility and love, compassion and contempt for worldly goods.
  • In 2008, Perugia launched a four-kilometer minimetro line. It turns out that similar transport is being laid in small towns as well.
  • On the territory of Umbria there is an artificial waterfall Cascata delle Marmore. The canal was dug back in the 3rd century BC in order to protect vast areas from flooding. Interestingly, for almost a hundred years the full power of the waterfall can be seen only a couple of hours a day, due to its functional feature.
  • One of the oldest European universities is located in Perugia. Although the year of its foundation is believed to be 1308, the institution has existed since the first half of the 13th century.
  • The ancient villages of Umbria are characterized by winding, very narrow streets, steep climbs, a huge number of steps and low arches. Walking here can be long.

Online cameras in Umbria

Live webcams in Umbria

Piazza del Comune in Assisi: broadcast online

Spello: broadcast online

Montefalco: online camera

Umbria on the map of Italy

Geographical location of the region

The region is located in the heart of the Apennine Peninsula, surrounded by Tuscany, Lazio and the Marche. This is probably why Umbria is called the heart of Italy. To the east, the region is separated from the Marche by a high mountain range, which turns into a smaller ridge to the south. On the west side the boundary between the neighboring regions is partly the Tiber. The difficult terrain, with its many variations in altitude, allowed the Umbrians to make full use of the basics of hydropower. In addition to natural lakes and waterfalls, there are water bodies and canals of artificial origin. Some of them date back to Roman times.

Umbria consists of only two provinces, Perugia and Terni united in 1927. Perugia is the capital of the region. The settlements are spread out on the high hills, mountain slopes and river valleys. More than 70% of the population lives in the province of Perugia.

Umbria on the map

How to reach Umbria

Main airports, bus and rail connections

The international airport of San Francesco d’Assisi is about 12 km. from Perugia and Assisi, and 24 km. from Foligne. The air harbor is connected to these cities by bus routes. It is also possible to reach your destination by cab.

The closest airports to Umbria for international flights are in Rome (Fiumicino) and Florence (Amerigo Vespucci). From there you can get to Umbria by train and then take a bus to your final destination. Between towns and villages it is better to travel by car.

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