Umbria (Italy) – the most detailed information about the region with photos, videos and map. The main sights and major cities of Umbria.
Umbria region (Italy)
Umbria is a region in the center of Italy, often called its “green heart” and “sister of Tuscany.” It is an authentic region between the Italian North and South, where among the hills, vineyards and olive groves are ancient Etruscan cities and charming villages. Umbria is one of the smallest regions of Italy and one of the hidden treasures of the country, a place where beautiful landscapes, excellent gastronomy, impressive culture and ancient history come together.
What to do (Italy):
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Geography and climate
Umbria lies between Florence and Rome in the Tiber valley and is surrounded to the east and west by low hills, which farther east become the Apennine Mountains. It is bordered on the north and northeast by the Marche, on the west and northwest by Tuscany and on the south and southwest by Lazio. Umbria has one of the largest lakes in Italy, the Trasimeno.
The climate of the region varies from the Mediterranean in the plains and hills to the sub-continental temperate in the foothills. Umbria has a thriving agricultural economy. Wheat, corn, lentils, sugar beets, grapes and olives are grown here.
Information for tourists
- Population – 866 thousand people
- Area – 8 456 km 2
- Language – Italian
- Currency – euro
- Visa – Schengen
- Time – UTC +1
- Average altitude – 493 meters
– capital of Umbria, an ancient city with a magnificent medieval historic center that, in fact, has hardly changed since the 14th century and is one of the most beautiful in Italy. Vibrant and lively, cultural and university, Perugia is a city full of “secrets” worth visiting. – A charming ancient city with medieval and ancient sites, perched on top of a hill. Known as the birthplace of St. Francis and a popular pilgrimage destination. – one of the most beautiful towns in Umbria, perched on top of impressive tufaceous cliffs. The crowning glory of the city is the magnificent cathedral, a Gothic jewel of the 14th century. – a picturesque town at the foot of Mount Subasio, where winding medieval streets and ancient churches will fascinate history and architecture lovers. – A beautiful ancient town, southeast of Perugia, which has been competing with it for supremacy in the region. – a city on a hill, walled, one of the largest cities in southern Umbria, where Etruscan, Roman and medieval monuments can be found. – A well-preserved medieval town, built on the steep slopes of Mount Ingino of grey limestone. It has monuments from the Middle Ages, Gothic and Renaissance. Just outside the town is a Roman amphitheater. – is a charming town in the heart of Umbria, located between two rivers on the Via Flaminia, an ancient Roman road leading from Rome to modern Rimini. – a beautiful city perched on a hilltop above the winding Tiber. Narrow paved streets wind through the hilly terrain and lead to beautifully preserved medieval monuments such as Palazzo del Popolo (one of Italy’s oldest public buildings, built in 1213). – not only a beautiful town in the foothills of the Apennine mountains, but also one of the leading gastronomic centers of Italy, offering an amazing selection of dishes and products of truffles, ham, salami, lentils and cheeses.
Umbria was settled in ancient times. In the 6th century B.C. the Etruscans came to the land. In the 3rd century BC, the area was conquered by the Romans, who founded several cities here and built an important road, the Via Flaminia. The Roman Emperor Augustus in the 1st century BC made Umbria one of the 11 regions of Italy.
The area after the collapse of the Roman Empire witnessed struggles between the Ostgoths and Byzantines. After the invasion of the Lombards (or Lombards) in the 4th century AD, much of Umbria was incorporated into the Lombard duchy of Spoleto, but some (including Perugia) remained in Byzantine hands until the secular power of the pope was established.
Old Town in Umbria
Later, the rivalry between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors created conditions favorable to the emergence of the communes, and Perugia became the dominant city-state in Umbria. In the 16th century the communes were incorporated into the papal state.
Umbria was annexed to the Roman Republic in 1798 and then incorporated into the French Empire in 1808. In 1860 the region was occupied by the troops of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont, and since 1861 is part of Italy.
How to reach
Umbria is conveniently located between Florence and Rome, so it is relatively easy to get here from both Northern and Southern Italy by train and bus. The region’s capital, Perugia, has an international airport that receives flights from Munich, Barcelona, Bucharest and other European cities. Rome’s Fiumicino airport is also a 3-hour drive away.
Umbria is famous for its ancient craft traditions. Ceramics, jewelry, fabrics (cashmere, lace, embroidery) are popular as souvenirs. Of traditional products we recommend buying olive oil, wine, truffle products, local cheeses and sausages.
Umbria has a reputation for producing incredible sausages and dishes from pork and wild boar. Umbrian forests produce truffles, and the hills are home to olive groves and vineyards that make excellent olive oil and wine. They also grow lentils, considered by many to be the best in the world. All of these products are staples in Umbrian cuisine.
Torta al testo. Source – https://www.paneangeli.it/
- Porchetta – pork roll with garlic
- Torta al testo – a simple combination of flour, water, salt and olive oil, served with stewed meat or made into a sandwich filled with wild herbs, cheese and prosciutto
- Pasta alla Norcina, which contains local mushrooms and lots of grated truffle and includes a creamy sauce with a drop of white wine
- Crostini al tartufo all’Umbra – toast with grated black truffle sauce, local olive oil and anchovies
- Tegamaccio – fish sauce with garlic, celery, white wine and chopped tomatoes
- Colombaccio – game on fire
- Torcolo – traditional dessert flavored with pine nuts, raisins, citrus zest and candied fruits
In Umbria you can see some magnificent monuments of the Roman and medieval past, among which the cathedrals of Assisi and Orvieto and the palaces from the Medieval Gothic period, decorated by the greatest artists of the 13th-14th centuries stand out. During the Renaissance, the region occupied an important place in art as the birthplace of the Umbrian school of painting.
San Francesco Basilica
The Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi is one of the most famous sites in Umbria and one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in Italy. The church is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi (one of the most revered Catholic saints), who was born and was buried in Assisi and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Basilica is a jewel of Christian architecture, combining late Romanesque and early Gothic styles. The construction of the church began in 1228. It is built on a hillside and consists of two buildings (known as the Upper and Lower Church) and a crypt where the relics of St. Francis rest. The interior of the Upper Church is a striking example of early Gothic style in Italy. The Basilica is decorated with striking frescoes by artists of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance from the Roman and Tuscan schools, among which are masterpieces by Giotto and Cimabue.
San Rufino Cathedral
Assisi has another magnificent ancient church, the Cathedral of San Rufino, dedicated to the Christian martyr of the same name who lived in the 3rd century. The church, built in 1029, received the status of a cathedral in 1036. In 1140 it was rebuilt by the architect Giovanni of Gubbio.
The facade of the cathedral is considered one of the greatest examples of Romanesque art. The interior, altered in the 16th century, contains the baptismal font in which St. Francis, St. Clara and possibly the future Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II were baptized. Also resting in the cathedral are the remains of St. Rufino.
Cathedral of Orvieto
The Cathedral of Orvieto is one of the most famous and beautiful churches in Italy, a true masterpiece of medieval art. It is built on the highest point of the hill and is the architectural dominant feature of the entire city. Despite the rather complicated history of construction (construction of the church began in 1290 and was under construction for several centuries), the cathedral has an amazing compositional unity. The building is Romanesque in form but the decoration of the facade and art values inside are in the Gothic style.
What strikes most about the cathedral’s architecture is its monumental facade, decorated with intricate gold mosaics. It is considered one of the masterpieces of European architecture and art of the late Middle Ages. In the later reconstructions of the 17th-19th centuries, the original mosaics were mostly replaced by newer ones, but these reconstructions are of very high quality. The lower part of the facade is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament.
The interior of the cathedral is designed to be spacious, with massive columns which, like the outer walls, are decorated with marble. Most of the surfaces are covered with beautiful frescoes, each of which is of important value. Some of the frescoes and sculptures are outstanding works of art: the Gothic fresco “Madonna and Child on the Throne” by Gentile da Fabriano from 1425, the Pieta (sculptural group by Ippolito Scalza) from 1579. Beautiful and old is the stained glass in the apse by Giovanni di Bonino, dating from the 14th century.
Trasimeno is a picturesque lake surrounded by hilly olive groves, rows of vineyards and dense forests, tiny medieval villages perched atop projecting promontories. Ruined old towers, fortresses, Renaissance churches and brooding abbeys dot the neighborhood, and the lake itself is often painted with bright sails and tiny wooden fishing boats, as well as fiery orange sunsets that are considered some of the most beautiful in Italy.
Piazza IV Novembre
Piazza IV November is the central square of Perugia and the heart of city life since ancient times. In Roman times there was a forum. In the Middle Ages a square was formed which has five streets. The piazza is surrounded by wonderful old buildings. The highlight of the piazza is the Fountain of Maggiore, built in the 13th century and considered one of the most beautiful medieval fountains in Italy. The beautiful stone sculptures are made by the famous Tuscan masters Pisano. On the west side of the square is the archbishop’s palace, the walls of which now house a natural history museum. The medieval street Via delle Volte leads to Piazza Fortebraccio.
Palazzo dei Priori is the most beautiful building in the main square of Perugia. It is a large palace in the Italian Gothic style of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The gryphon (symbol of Perugia), the 14th century bronze lion and the chains on the façade mark the victory over Siena. On the first floor there is a beautiful hall with ancient frescoes. Very close by is the Collegio del Cambio with frescoes by Perugino.
The Old Town of Todi
Todi stands on a hilltop overlooking the picturesque Tevere valley. The old town is bounded by three rings of walls (Etruscan, Roman and medieval). The jewel of the historic center is the main square, which is so well preserved and captures the atmosphere of the past so well that it is often used as a film set. Here are most of the medieval monuments of Todi, including the cathedral and several palaces.
Palazzo del Popolo, located in the main square of Todi, is one of the oldest public buildings in Italy. The palace was built in the early 13th century and is a prime example of Gothic. It now houses the city’s museum.
Roman Theatre in Gubbio
In the neighborhood of Gubbio you can visit the ruins of the ancient Roman theater, built during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Interestingly, this structure was the second largest theater of the Roman Empire after the theater of Marcellus in Rome. In addition to its historical value, the theater is also important architecturally because it is one of the earliest structures built entirely on two-story hollow frames.
The monument, often described as virtually “intact,” has in fact suffered greatly over the centuries. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Iguvium was sacked by the Goths and what was left of the theater was dismantled to build and rebuild a medieval city.
The structure is often referred to as the “Roman amphitheater of Gubbio,” it is not actually an amphitheater. Ancient Roman amphitheaters were oval or circular in shape with a central stage surrounded by tiers of seating, while Roman theaters such as the Iguvium (as Gubbio was called in the Roman period) were semicircular in shape. They differed not only in layout and characteristics, but also in function. While the amphitheaters hosted races, gladiatorial fights, and executions, the Roman theaters hosted plays, poets, and bards.
Rocca del Leone
Rocca del Leone is a medieval castle on Lake Trasimeno, built in the first half of the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire. The fortress has an interesting pentagonal structure dominated by a triangular 39-meter tower.
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Pristine nature with picturesque landscapes, small rivers with waterfalls, mountains and hills densely covered with greenery, colorful 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.
We recommend a visit to
Church of Nuova in Assisi
Umbrian National Gallery
Cozy rest with local colors
Agritourisms, SPA hotels, family villas, wineries, ancient castles, abbeys and monasteries for an unforgettable holiday in Umbria
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Culture & Tradition
Culinary traditions, handicrafts, memorable dates and important events
Umbria is one of those regions where traditions are still carefully preserved and passed 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.
The culture and local flavor of Umbria
The legend of the chalice and the miracles of healing
Brozzetti textile studio museum
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.
Gastronomic tours, tastings and cooking classes
Colli Perugini DOC wines
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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 12th 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.
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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.
The territory of the region is protected by the mountain ranges from the influence of the 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.
Interesting cities worth visiting
Castiglione del Lago
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.
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
- In Assisi, at the end of the 12th century, St. Francis was born, who later became the founder of the mendicant Franciscan order. 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
Spello: broadcast online
Piazza del Comune in Assisi: live streaming
Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia: broadcast online
Umbria on the map of Italy
The geographical position of the region
The region is located in the heart of the Apennine Peninsula, surrounded by Tuscany, Lazio and the Marche. Perhaps that’s why Umbria is called the heart of Italy. To the east, the region is separated from the Marche by a high mountain range, passing to the south in a smaller ridge. 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.
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.