How to describe Umbria’s hill top town of Orvieto? Let’s just say it is very impressive, sitting majestically high and looking down on the Umbrian plains. The medieval upper town is virtually free of any traffic, perfectly preserved in its historical lineage.
There are so many historic and unspoilt towns and villages in Umbria, many are not even included on the main holiday visit lists. The Borghi Piu Belli dell’Italia is a great organisation which was set up to try and preserve these iconic villages from their culture being lost or ruined. They work for protection and restoration but also promotion and utilisation and provides much needed revenue for the local communities. If you are staying anywhere near the following three beautiful villages of Umbria, take the time to visit and have a wonderful leisurely stroll around.
Italy always ranks amongst the top summer destinations for travellers; this is not surprising given the country’s historical legacy, excellent cuisine, breathtaking heartland, and great wines. To get a real experience of the essence of this country, many take to the countryside to explore the villages, which have made it synonymous with rustic charm.
Umbria has managed to remain free from overdoing tourism. It has neither access to the sea, nor any international borders. This has allowed Umbria to remain authentic with its many charming towns, resistant to too much change over the centuries. The local population is honest and welcoming to strangers.
Unlike the more popular neighbouring regions of Umbria and Tuscany, Le Marche remains much less well-known and tourist free. Comprising of both mountains and the sea, Le Marche is home to a varied cuisine that is as distinct as it is delicious.
Take a look at three delicious Le Marche local dishes.
On the outside crema fritta – fried cream – doesn’t sound too appealing. However, crema fritta is the vital ingredient into what makes many a legendary Italian dish so distinct tasting and delicious.
You can even eat crema fritta on its own. The cream is cooked and is stored in the fridge overnight. It is then coated in egg and breadcrumbs and is deep-fried on skewers.
Crema fritta is best eaten alongside a glass of crisp sparkling red wine known as Vernaccia.
Ciauscolo is a smoky pork sausage that is given a rich and deep flavour with garlic, fennel and vino cotto. Vino cotto is a non-alcoholic ‘cooked wine’ that possesses a unique flavour that is both sweet and sour.
In Le Marche, ciauscolo is typically served on toast or with a hunk of rustic bread.
This mouth-watering fish soup is traditionally made with 13 different types of shellfish and fish, each of which supposedly represents each person at the Last Supper. Brodetto all’Anconetana is a tomato-based soup, which is rich with fresh flavours of the sea.
In the autumn the annual Brodetto and Fish Soup Festival takes place in the beach resort of Pesaro.
The perfect accompaniment to Brodetto all’Anconetana is a crisp and tangy glass of Verdicchio, one of the region’s most famous wines.
There is something unique about Umbria. Apart from being the only region in Italy to have neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries, much of Umbria’s uniqueness stems from the fact it is both historic and modern at the same time.
We also cannot ignore the fact that Umbria has the stunning Lake Trasimeno and all its accompanying delights on its diverse, lush and exceptionally photogenic landscape. If you are looking for a European destination that comprises of history, contemporary glamour, breathtaking scenery and an undisturbed tranquillity, you’ll find it all in Umbria, and more besides.
For a house that does the region justice we recommend Casale Anna. This immaculate six bedroom family villa in Umbria is snuggled amongst 22 hectares of olive groves and fields filled with vines.
The house boasts superb panoramic views of the verdant Tiber Valley that stretches out to the mighty Mount Subasio. As well as being right in the heart of such rural bliss, Casale Anna is just a kilometre from the atmospheric village of Montelaguardia, which has a handful of restaurants, bars and shops for a convenient quick fix of mouthwatering local cuisine.
What’s more, the legendary hilltop town of Perugia is just seven kilometres from the house. This lively medieval walled town comprises of an eclectic mix of historic buildings, vibrant squares strewn with people, modern shops, renowned restaurants and that’s just for starters.
Yes, it’s safe to say that’s there’s plenty of action and culture awaiting close by to Casale Anna. That’s if you can manage to muster up the enthusiasm to leave this utterly divine property that is. Restored in a rural Umbrian style, rustic beams, traditional furnishings and terracotta tiles compliment Casale Anna’s surroundings impeccably.
The huge country kitchen will light up the eyes of amateur and professional cooks alike and will go a long way in influencing your decision to either eat out in one of the exquisite nearby restaurants or rustle up some Umbrian delight in this beautiful and well-equipped country kitchen.
Being right in the thick of the “Green Heart of Italy” – a name that is fondly given to Umbria – Casale Anna is very much geared towards outdoor living so those who have the privilege of staying here can make the most of the wonderful views. As a consequence, the house has a number of terraces where wining and dining, sunbathing or simply relaxing and reading a book can be enjoyed in equal doses.
The property’s huge private pool is a real focal point, meticulously positioned to behold panoramic views. There could not be a more pleasant way to dry down after a dip in the pool than meandering through the pretty well-maintained garden, becoming acquainted with the unparalleled beauty of the natural surroundings.
We couldn’t blame you for wanting to learn more about Umbria’s Casale Anna. For photos, prices, availability visit: vintagetravel.co.uk.
Fiesta de San Francisco, Assisi, Umbria – A colourful spectacle to honour a much-loved saint.
San Francisco of Assisi is thought of by many Italians as the number one revered person who has ever lived in Italy. And when you consider the Caesars, the popes, the artists, the opera singers and the football players, it is safe to say that competition is stiff. On October 4, the Umbrian town of Assisi has a festival to honour this loveable saint.
However, it is not just this medieval city, which was the birthplace of Saint Francisco, where they pay tribute the highly sacred saint. In 2005 the Italian government declared this date a day of peace, brotherhood and dialogue between all people and religions. This October 4 the colours of Assisi – blue, red and gold – will drape the town, as they will throughout much of Italy.
Fiesta de San Francisco 2013 promises to be very special indeed. In the morning trumpeters in medieval dress will sound the anthem of Assisi in front of the town’s 14th century city hall. The ritual marks the start of the procession that leads to the tomb of St Francisco in the Basilica di San Francisco, which was built especially to bear his body.
Each year one of the twenty regions of Italy is elected to bring the oil to Assisi, which will burn all year in front of the Saint’s tomb. This year the honour has been given to the region of Molise and representatives of the area, including mayors and policemen. These respected officials will join the procession bearing banners of their own regional colours, which are red, green and white. Needless to say, the procession will endow a hugely colourful spectacle.
The following day, Assisi’s streets will be turned into an open market place and fair. Delicious local food and drink will be available in abundance as people gather at the many quirky stalls and families enjoy all the rides, games and attractions of this flamboyant fair.
Any visitor wishing to experience a great Italian festival will be hard pushed to find a better one than this event in Assisi, which honours their beloved Saint Francisco.
Assisi in Umbria – A place of theological contemplation and rapture. The medieval hilltop town of Assisi is one of the most visited places in Italy. Situated in Umbria next to Tuscany the town’s biggest attraction is its close links with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare.
Up to six million tourists and pilgrims can visit here in a year to become acquainted with the churches, castles and defensive walls that have barely changed much since medieval times. Here’s some top reasons to visit Assisi.
Although St Francis was born to a wealthy merchant, he embraced poverty and would walk around medieval Umbria, wearing shabby clothes that were barely more than rags, similar, one might say, to Ghandi. In 1204 St. Francis had a vision, to spurn the wealthy and improvident life and exchange it for the pious road.
One of the highlights of this intriguing Umbrian town is a little church called the Porzuincola, which was given to St Francis by Benedictine monks. St. Francis renovated this church with his bare hands. This historic church has been preserved exactly how it was all those centuries ago and it was in this very place that St. Francis founded “The Franciscans.”
The town does exude a certain holy mysticism and it is not difficult to understand why many visitors feel a special spirituality in Assisi. One particularly popular spot to stop and contemplate life and theology is the statue of St. Francis alongside two pet doves, which are symbolic of St. Francis’s love of nature and all living things.
Today it is possible to go on a tour of Assisi with a Franciscan monk, who will take you around and give you great insight into the way that St. Francis lived.
There is so much to tell about the beautiful teachings of St. Francis, of his appreciation of the world and all of the living creatures in it. Even in recent times various religious leaders refer to him, particularly when it comes to the subject of the environment. If you want to know more about this great man or indeed just want to visit a special place, then you simply must visit Umbria’s Assisi.
Casale Tiberina – A luxury villa in Umbria nestled on the border of two of the most culturally-stimulated regions in Europe. If you fancy spending a week or two being perched on a hillside overlooking 12 acres of private grounds and woodland set amongst a panoramic backdrop of jaw-dropping Umbrian landscape, then Casale Tiberina could possibly be the accommodation you are looking for.
Many people who go to Umbria have aspirations to be historically-enlightened, for the simple fact that this glorious part of the world is laden with unique, ancient and wholly interesting historical highlights. And none more so than this remarkable luxury villa in Umbria, which is on the ruin of an ancient church, with parts of the house dating back to the 11th century.
Despite its antique origins running throughout the property, Casale Tiberina radiates an incredibly warming and sophisticated persona.
Asides boosting many delightfully original features, such as beamed ceilings, exposed brickwork, a huge fireplace and tiled flooring, this four bedroom villa has all the appliances and modernisms you would want to make your stay here as comfortable as possible. These modern features in WiFi, central heating, en-suite bathrooms, a roll-top bath, ceiling fans, TV room with DVD player, microwave, dishwasher, American style fridge/freezer, air conditioning, and, perhaps most importantly given that you are in Italy, a wine cooler!
Being spaced over three floors, Casale Tiberina comfortably accommodates eight guests, although it is outside that generates an exceptional feeling of space. Set within 12 acres of tastefully landscaped gardens, you can literally get lost in the villa’s huge private grounds.
As well as open and shaded terraces with a delightful fountain and a five-acre fully enclosed pond, there is a barbeque and a kitchen garden, close to a solar heated private swimming pool with Roman steps and an infinity edge.
Although it is not just this remarkable villas’ internal and external delights that lures in guests and warrants a truly memorable stay, as it is all the places that are within reaching distance of Casale Tiberina that makes it that bit extra special.
Much of Umbria’s charm is the many ancient and picturesque towns and villages that are scattered about the region and none more so that the village of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina that is a stone’s throw from the villa.
Situated in the Upper Tiber Valley, this unique village has ancient Etruscan roots although is truly medieval at heart. If meandering through narrow streets and walkways, coming across an ancient building of historical importance and architectural splendour on almost every corner sounds appealing, then Monte Santa Maria Tiberina certainly won’t disappoint.
With the grim weather, depressingly dark evenings and the snippets of spring seeming like a world away, who can blame us for dreaming of a mid-winter break? If you are determined to turn your dreams of sunnier climes into reality, then the striking region of Umbria should definitely be on your shortlist.
One of Italy’s smallest provinces, Umbria is undeservedly less well-documented and publicised than its more eminent neighbour, Tuscany.
Although it’s comparative inconspicuousness works in Umbria’s favour, as its pictorial river valleys, hectares upon hectares of dense elm forests and mighty mountain ranges, are void of people, manmade landscape alterations and obtrusion.
Umbria has many unique and wonderful assets to offer any discerning traveller of Italy and none more so that it’s vast choice of parks and nature reserves.
If you are lucky enough to be taking a winter break in Umbria and want to exploit its tranquil natural assets to the max, then take a look at two nature reserves in Umbria.
Parco di Colfiorito
Parco di Colfiorito is situated in the mid-west region of the Apennines inside a huge Karstic tectonic plain in between Umbria and the Marches. The park was opened in 1995 and consists of a 100-hectare area of wetland, calcareous ridges and rich peak bog, the perfect place for wildlife to thrive.
Asides providing the ideal habitat for birds, wildlife, flowers and plants to flourish, this immense plateau of exceptional beauty is home to prehistoric archaeological finds and the Roman town of Plestia.
Naturally an area of such prolific natural beauty, rare wildlife and fascinating Roman remains is a popular spot for tourists who can enjoy a number of activities, including horse riding, trekking, fishing and mountain biking.
Parco del Monte Cucco
Umbria is the only region in Italy that is completely surrounded by land and is renowned for its many aesthetically stunning natural parks. Parco del Monte Cucco in the Sigillo region of Umbria is famed for owning the mighty Mount Cucco as well as its many underground springs.
This beautiful natural park is densely forested with woods predominantly made up of beech trees. Similar to most of Umbria’s areas of preservation, the Parco del Monte Cucco is home to rare and wonderful animals and flowers, with golden eagles regularly seen swirling overhead with even a pack of wolves roaming the area.
Hang gliding, cross country skiing and pony trekking are three popular activities in the Parco del Monte Cucco.
With medieval villages, vibrant cities, rolling verdurous hillsides and troves of artistic treasures, the beautiful region of Umbria stands apart from the rest of Italy for many reasons.
But one of the biggest reasons Umbria possesses a scene that is inimitable from the rest of its country is due to its production of many gourmet delights.
From artisan cured meats to world-renowned wine, from intensely-flavoured truffles to deep and luxurious extra virgin olive oils, Umbria food and drink is an abundant source of gourmet goldmines just crying out to be explored.
Whilst Torgiano and Orvieto are two of the biggest winegrowing regions in Umbria, where lush and fruitful vineyards and delightfully characterful wine cellars are open for tourists to visit all year round, it is north of Rome, in Bella Umbria, where some of the most legendary Umbria food tours take place.
One such Umbria food tour is in the village of Bevagna that lies to the north of Spoleto and to the south of Assisi. What has been described as being a “fairy tale hamlet”, this ancient village dates back to the Roman era, and as a consequence many Roman treasures have remained there including Roman mosaics in the museum and a second century Roman temple and amphitheatre.
On a ‘luxury Umbria culinary tour’ guests enjoy five days exploring this fascinating region, including lunching at the mythical Giancarlo Vissani restaurant, olive oil tasting at the ancient “Frantoio”, truffle hunting close to the stunningly picturesque Citta del Castello, enjoying private Umbrian cooking lessons, visiting delightfully intimate wine cellars and even witnessing the ancient Umbrian artistic practice of ceramic making – quite an accomplishment in just five days!
Aside being introduced to some of the most fascinating, ancient and prevailing cultural practises in Umbria, guests will also visit many of the region’s most interesting and magnificent towns, including Perugia, Orvieto, Assisi and Spoleto.
For more information on what could possibly be one of the best ways to discover Umbria in its ‘truest’ and ‘natural’ form, click HERE.