Travel with Swide to find out the highlights of Italy: this time we take you to Umbria, the green land of beautiful landscapes.
Viaggio in Italia:
Umbria, The green land
Italy is regarded as a fairly small country, but as small as it may be there is a lot to see. Swide tells you what you can’t miss with our Travel Guide to Italy. This time we take you to Umbria. From Perugia to smaller towns here is what you can’t miss.
Located in central Italy, Umbria is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. Like the nearby Tuscany, the Region is known for its history, traditions and beautiful landscapes. Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Partly hilly and partly flat it has a variety of landscapes difficult to reach in other Regions.
In the province of Terni, the site is among the most dramatic in Europe, built on almost-vertical faces of tuff cliffs. Visit the Duomo (Cathedral), the Papal Residence, and it’s underground labyrinth: many of the homes of noble families were equipped with a means of escape from the elevated city during times of siege through secret escape tunnels.
In the province of Perugia, Assisi is one of the best known among Umbria’s town. It was the birthplace of St.Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare, the founder of Poor Sisters (later named Poor Clares). Visit the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi (St. Francis) that is breath-taking: the lower church (there is an upper one, too) has frescoes and late-medieval artists like Cimabue and Giotto. Also visit the temple of Minerva and the Piazza del Comune (“Communal Square”).
In the province of Perugia it is a very ancient city, dating back to Bronze age. Many houses in central Gubbio date to the 14th and 15th centuries, and were originally the dwellings of wealthy merchants. Visit the Roman theater, the Roman Mausoleum, Palazzo dei Consoli and the Cathedral. Also visit Santa Maria Nuova: this is a typical Cistercian church of the 13th century.
In the province of Perugia, the town is perched on a tall two-crested hill. Visit the Cathedral dating back to 11th century and the Piazza del Popolo (“People’s Square”) is a Lombard-Gothic construction already existing in 1213, and is one of the most ancient communal palaces in Italy. The Prior’s Palace is located in the southern side of the Piazza, it was begun in 1293.
In the province of Perugia it is set on a foothill of the Appenines. Visit the Cathedral of St.Maria Assunta, completed in 1227, the Rocca Albornoziana, San Pietro Church.
A beautifully old walled town, Spello commands a good view of the Umbrian plain towards Perugia. Of medieval aspect its walls includes three Roman Late Antique gates. Definitely visit Santa Maria Maggiore (known from 1159): its façade has a Romanesque portal and a 13th-century bell tower, while the pilasters next to the apse have frescoes by Perugino (1512). The most striking feature is the stunning Baglioni Chapel, frescoed by Pinturicchio. Also visit Palazzo Comunale Vecchio and Palazzo Cruciali.
Terni is known into the world as the “City of Lovers”, as its patron saint, Saint Valentine, was born and became a bishop here. Visit the Cathedral of S.Maria Assunta: in the interior is one organ designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and also the Church of S. Francesco and The Basilica of S. Valentino.
It is located in a wide plain abutting the Monti Sibillini, a subrange of the Apennines. The town is popularly associated with the Valnerina (the valley of that river). It is famous for hunting wild boar. The town features Roman monuments. The main basilica is dedicated to St. Benedict. The façade, in Gothic style, is characterized by a central rose window. The Renaissance church of Santa Maria Argentea is Cathedral.
It is the capital of the Region. Near here, in Città della Pieve, lived the famous painter Pietro Vannucci, nicknamed Perugino, the teacher of Raphael. He decorated the local Sala del Cambio with frescoes. Visit the Cathedral San Lorenzo and the Basilicata San Domenico that houses impressive Umbrian art. Also visit Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, the National Gallery of Umbrian art in Middle Ages and Renaissance (it includes works by Duccio, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Perugino). The city in July hosts one of the most famous festival in Europe, Umbria Jazz.
The earliest traces of human presence date back to Neolithic times. Visit the Palazzo Municipale, dating back to 16th Century. Because of its origins the town features a very interesting Museum, the Museo Paleontologico with finds that date back to Roman-Etrurian era.
An ancient town set in the lower flank of Monte Serano overlooking the wide plain of the Citunno river system, Trevi has about twenty old churches. Among them visit the Duomo of Sant’ Emiliano – a Romanesque building – the Madonna delle Lacrime, a medieval conventual church; S. Martino that features a Lombard lapidary remains. Here you can find among the best extravirgin olive oil in Italy.
In the province of Perugia, visit Palazzo dei Consoli, known from 1187; the Romanesqe church of S. Michele Arcangelo (12th-13th centuries); the Romanesque church of S. Silvestro (1195), the Church of Sant’Agostino (1316). Also visit the medieval walls.
In the province of Terni, Amelia is the oldest town in Umbria and is especially known for its walls, parts of which date to Amelia’s earliest days. A well preserved medieval city, features also a Cathedral in Piazza Duomo, San Francesco, started in 1287, is in Piazza Vera, with a cloister and a convent and the church of Sant’Agostino. Also visit the Archaeological Museum and the Pinacoteca Comunale (Municipal Gallery).
Set on an outcrop of the Colli Martani above the flood plain of Clitunno river, this town features several churches, some in the Romanesque, some in the Gothic and some in the Renaissance style. Historically, the most important is the church of San Francesco which is now the town’s museum, one of the most important in Umbria. The city is famous also for a renowned wine, the Sagrantino di Montefalco.
An ancient hill town, it has a striking medieval appearance with cobblestone alleys and one of the largest Roman bridges ever built.
Città di Castello
On the slope of the Apennines, the city features the medieval Palazzo Comunale and a tall thin tower, the Torre Comunale; and the Pinacoteca Comunale. It’s in this city where Monica Bellucci was born.
Swide Extra tip:
Make sure to visit also Campello sul Clitunno, a renowned center for olive oil production: it features the tempietto del Clitunno and not far from the town you can visit the castles of Campello Alto and Pissignano Alto.
What to buy:
Definitely bring back home the incredible extra virgin olive oil that the Region produces but in case you can’t because it is not exactly easy to carry in a long distance trip, at least bring back home the torta al testo, a specialty from Umbria also known as crescia or ciacca.” The Testo is the traditional heavy disc on which the torta bread is cooked. The bread is then filled with different ingredients, like salumi, cheese or meat.
Where to stay:
Stay at Palazzo Bontadosi Hotel&Spa in Montefalco or Palazzo Seneca in Norcia if you are looking for the best hotel for a special occasion. For a luxury stay in a Boutique hotel head to Castello di Monterone in Perugia’s province or at L’orto degli angeli in Bevagna.
Where to eat:
The options are endless, but here are some: La Stalla in Assisi, Giorgione alla Via di Mezzo in Montefalco, in Perugia eat at L’Osteria a Priori; in Todi try Enoteca Pane e Vino. If you are looking for Michelin star cuisine head to L’Altro Vissani in Orvieto.
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