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A Guide to Umbria

A Guide to Umbria

Situated in the heart of Italy, Umbria is a calm and peaceful land, the only Italian region that borders neither the sea nor another country. Difficult to get to with public transportation and peacefully isolated from the outside influences, Umbria is a place that sticks scrupulously to its ancient traditions, a truly Italian region that keeps intact some of the qualities people love best about Italy.

Also known as the “Green Heart of Italy,” Umbria boasts untouched landscapes in its verdant hills, mountains, and valleys. Etruscans, Romans, and medieval feuding families have left an incredible artistic and cultural heritage, while priests and monks have given a fascinating religious imprint on its towns. Being relatively isolated from the outside world, locals have taken advantage of the gifts from Mother Nature to develop one of the richest cuisines in Italy and produce authentic genuine wine.


The untouched landscape of Umbria is something that never fails to amaze. Enchanting forests, rolling hills that reminds one of those in the more famous Tuscany next door, spectacular valleys crossed by rivers: Umbria has everything to surprise nature lovers and even more. Imposing lakes like Lago Trasimeno or Cascata delle Marmore, probably the most impressive waterfall in Europe, are authentic hidden gems. Umbria is the perfect place to enjoy a horseback ride in the countryside or to practice sports like canoeing and kayaking.



Another ingredient that makes this region so special is its incredible historical and artistic heritage: an astonishing mix of Renaissance masterpieces and small medieval towns embedded in the hills.

Perugia, the capital of the region, has a glorious past. It was one of the 12 confederate cities of Etruria, an important settlement during the Roman period and an artistic center in the Middle Ages. Set atop a hill, it is encircled by massive travertine walls that were built for protection.

Gubbio, the oldest village in the region, appears as a real medieval citadel at first glance. Visitors not only come here to breathe the air of times past through its crenellated castle and imposing ducal palace, but also to witness its spectacular traditional festivals like the Corsa dei Ceri (Candle Race) and the Palio Balestra (a medieval crossbow contest on horseback.)



Religion is everywhere in Umbria. From small chapels in the countryside to astonishing cathedrals and monasteries inside and around cities, there is a lot to see in this land. Many saints come from Umbria but the most famous is without any doubt St. Francis. The welcoming and cheerful city of Assisi is where he was born and where his grave rests. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, everything revolves around St. Francis in Assisi: from the Basilica, which is dedicated to the Saint and contains his tomb, to the hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri) where he used to retreat in prayer.



All palates are satisfied in this inland region, where products are so genuine and authentic that the quality is consequently very high. The jewel in the crown is the Umbrian truffle. The most common variety is the black truffle, very popular with pasta or with game, especially in the area of Norcia and Spoleto; more valuable white truffles can be found as well, particularly in the Tiberina Valley, Orvieto and Gubbio.

Pork is another specialty of the region, masterfully treated by Umbrian butchers who turn the meat into delicacies like sausages, tasty hams, and salami, like those of Norcia, to eat with unsalted bread that brings out the taste. Many dishes are seasoned with the golden and fruity olive oil produced in this region, which enhances any dish without upstaging the flavor. Food is so delicious in Umbria that taking a cooking class seems the best thing to do to enhance your trip in this surprising region.

Finally, don't miss Sagrantino, a robust red wine produced in the scenic hills of Montefalco. With cooling mountain breezes, hot sunny days, and clay soil, Umbria's unique terroir gives this wine its complex, deep flavors.


Arvedecce! (“Arrivederci” in Umbrian dialect)! Eataly Magazine is pleased to publish this guest post by Pietro Marco Fraccalvieri of Select Italy, an agency specializing in Italian travel.