One of the most ancient Umbrian towns, Amelia is enveloped by impressive polygonal walls dating from the 4th century, and underground the network of wells built by the Romans can still be visited today. Among the town's cultural offerings are the local archaeological museum and picture gallery which are in the same building in Piazza Vera. The former has some excellent finds whilst the latter makes a morning here well worth the visit. The rest of the sights are predominantly medieval, several striking Palazzi and the heavily reconstructed cathedral which has frescoes by Luigi Fontana.
This underground excavation lies directly under the Church of San Domenico, and was discovered in 1979. You can take a tour lasting one and a half hours in Italian or English that guides you through the local history with a look into Roman plumbing and even an underground Roman church with surviving frescoes.
Orvieto's towering black and white striped Gothic cathedral dominates the town, and was built to house the Holy Cloth taken by the local bishop from nearby Bolsena commemorating the Miracle, or Transubstantiation, of Bolsena and thus the Festival of Corpus Domini. Signorelli's majestic treatment of the 'Last Judgement' should not be missed in the Brizio Chapel, and the little museum next door has some very good Etruscan finds (for Orvieto was an Etruscan confederational settlement).
There is also plenty to see in Perugia. The Galleria Nazionale Umbria houses one of the great picture collections of central Italy. The works of Perugino and Piero are certainly highlights but much of central Italian painting from the 14th to the 17th centuries are well-represented including works by Gozzoli, Duccio, Gentile da Fabriano and Pinturicchio. There are many superb churches in Perugia so a full day out awaits!
For days out in nature...
the Parco Fluviale del Nera and the Lago di Piediluco are wonderful places to explore. Centred around the river Nera and the lake respectively there are plenty of water activities to enjoy, or just walking, picnics and wildlife spotting - golden eagles are known to soar overhead! A drive along the river valley will take you past small fortified towns - Arrone, Ferentillo, Montefranco, monasteries and watch towers.
The Lago di Bolsena is the fifth largest lake in Italy and also the one with the cleanest water so it is perfect for swimming. It sits on the ancient Via Cassia road which leads up to Montefiascone, a village renowned for its good restaurants and from where there are marvellous views of the lake.
Between Orvieto and Todi lies Lake Corbara, created in the 1960s when a dam was built on the River Tiber. It has developed into a fascinating ecosystem that is now protected as the Tiber River Park, and provides a number of quality facilities for visitors with an eye to preserving the environment. Activities on the lake include fishing, canoeing or hiring a row boat.
Todi is a charming place...
where three 'layers' of history are visible - Etruscan, Roman and medieval - in concentric circles around the town. Enter through the gates and you will arrive at a beautiful piazza surrounded by medieval palazzi, and narrow streets lined with shops, cafes and restaurants lead off the square.
Spoleto is larger than Todi and has become well known for its 'Festival dei Due Mondi', which translates as 'Festival of the Two Worlds'. For two weeks every July, the town plays centre stage to an eclectic mix of music, theatre, dance, poetry and more. Some events need to be pre-booked, others you can just turn up to.
Day Trip to the Eternal City
A short drive from the house will take you to Orte where regular, direct trains will take you for a great day out in Rome. The city which has captured the imagination of visitors for millennia needs no introduction but suffice to say, a day's sightseeing will only afford a tantalising glimpse of what it has to offer. A truly awe-inspiring city, there seems to be some new marvel around every corner. The many highlights include: The Forum and Palantine Hill, St Peter's Square, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and much more!
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