Nestled right in the center of Italy and the only land-locked region in the country, Umbria is also one of the smaller territories. But don't be fooled, gifted with luscious rolling hills, untouched nature and its art-for-free, Umbria is the perfect place to relax and explore on your next visit to the country or during a weekend getaway from Rome.

Perugia

E0BF37B2-29A3-4FF3-8F3D-721A7A8F951D
photo credits: @the_storyteller

Perugia is a famous university town that every year attracts thousands of international students, so you won't have any troubles making new friends here. In Perugia, you can explore a number of attractions, including the Cappella di San Severo where you admire work by Raphael's artwork. Don't miss the underground remains of the Forziere Antico, which now form the foundation for the modern city above. While in Perugia, don't forget to stop at Pasticceria Sandri on the Corso to try some incredible patry.

Obviously, a weekend in Umbria wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Perugina chocolate factory. Established in 1922, a walk around the chocolatier is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with your other half and don't forget to buy some to bring home.

Assisi

PA210500-e1509028952700
photo credits: @the_storyteller

Best known as the birthplace of St. Francis, the gorgeous city of Assisi lies on Umbria’s green rolling hills. An important destination for religious pilgrims, who have been coming here for centuries to visit the Basilica of San Francesco (where St. Francis is buried). To fully enjoy the Basilica, you should get a good guidebook or rent an audioguide (€6/one hour tour - open 9:30am-5:30pm). Another incredible church is the Basilica of Santa Chiara where you should go to visit the tomb of St. Clare. Assisi is not only a religious city, despite its holy vibe, but the charm of Assisi will allow you to embrace calm and silence during your visit while strolling the quiet street, enjoying some Italian food alfresco or sipping delicious wine at one of the many osterie.

Take a stroll around the Piazza del Comune before grabbing a coffee at one of the many open-air cafes. This pedestrian-only area is one of the best preserved medieval squares in Italy and it's the perfect place to rest and relax after a bit of shopping. Or you feel like walking in nature, then head to Il Bosco di San Francesco (Saint Francis’ Woodland) which is a recenlty restored wood right next the Basilica. (open: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm April to September; 10:00 am — 4:00 pm October to March)

Gubbio

PA210540-e1509029023337
photo credits: @the_storyteller

Gubbio is a cute medieval walled town, often forgotten on the Umbrian itineraries because it is a little off the beaten track and the usual itinerary in the region. But stopping here is almost mandatory as the city has lots to offer both in terms of historical sights and culinary treats.

Orvieto

huyen-366281-unsplash
photo credits: huyen. on unsplash

You can't miss the sight of Orvieto from miles away, the city rising high from a wall of volcanic rock stands tall reaching the Umbrian sky. Most people come here on a day-trip and that's why I suggest to stay here overnight, when the tour buses leave, Orvieto feels local again.

Norcia

Screen-Shot-2018-02-28-at-16.56.02
photo credits: @nel_cuore_di_norcia
on Instagram

Norcia is the birthplace of St Benedict, but among the many religious devotes, you will also find flocks of gastronomic pilgrims. Truffles, ham, salamis and cheeses are right at the center of the culinary tradition of this small, cute town. You might have heard of Norcia from the earthquakes headlines in 2016 and this is an additional reason to add Norcia (and Umbria) to your 2018 travel plans. No better way to sustain the local economies when they have suffered from a natural disaster.

Spello

Screen-Shot-2018-02-28-at-16.58.55
Photo credits: @spelloturismo on Instagram

Spello's medieval houses set on terraces above the Valle di Spoleto are love at first sight to its visitors. Make sure to visit the frescoes in Santa Maria Maggiore by Pinturicchio (yup! the same guy who painted a couple of masterpieces in Siena's cathedral and the Sistine Chapel), and the Pinacoteca Civica Diocesana a museum filled with paintings and sculptures. From here, you can also hike on Monte Subasio or, if you are feeling energic, all the way to Assisi.

Eating in Umbria

Umbria's cuisine is centred on meat, truffles and porcini mushrooms while red and white wines like Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Grechetto take center stage at dinner.

Truffles

Screen-Shot-2018-02-28-at-17.01.25
Photo credits: @chiaralaguerre on instagram

Found in the wild woods, these earthy mushrooms are Umbria’s greatest delicacy. Order tagliolini, spaghetti or all sort of pasta with tartufo but also crostini, stuffing and desserts!

Porchetta

An Umbrian delicacy that has taken Italy by the storm. You’ll see it served in sendwiches, as an antipasto or as a pizza topping.

Norcino

Norcino now is a variety of cured meats that fits with the special way of Norcia.

Fichi Girotti

Screen-Shot-2018-02-28-at-17.03.02
Photo credits: @tonirosado on instagram

In the 19th century, Antonio Girotti, a nationalist commander, started filling the figs with toasted almonds, candied fruits and cocoa, and pressing them into wheel shapes. These sweet candies are still very popular today and they are delicious!

Getting to and around Umbria

While I'm a huge fan of public transports and travelling by train, bus, bike or feet, Umbria can be a little tougher than other destinations. First of all, most of the towns aren’t directly connected to big cities like Florence or Rome, meaning you'll have to change trains once or twice, and secondly, because many are medieval hilltop towns meaning that there are no train station right in the center but normally a taxi ride away, making the all transport more expensive. So, for exploring the best that Umbria has to offer, rent or drive your car.

From Florence there are frequent connections to Perugia, usually with a change at Terontola. From Rome, you can get a train to Perugia that normally takes around two and a half hours. Perugia is a good place to start your weekend away in Umbria and possibly the best place to rent a car. Remember that driving and/or parking in many historic towns is restricted or metered.

Looking for accommodation in Italy? Spotahome is in the major cities including Rome, Milan, Florence, Turin and Bologna!

Hungry for more on Italy? Take a look at: