In the spring wildflowers transform the rolling Umbrian countryside into a rainbow of color, but still one's eye is drawn upward, to the tops of the surrounding hills, to the walled towns perched above. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the region, these fortified medieval hill towns are rich in art, history and architecture, and many are relatively untouched by tourism. Gubbio, Spello, Todi, Spoleto, Deruta, Orvieto - all are unique and worthy of a visit.
- Picturesque hill towns
- Summer music festival in Spoleto
- Giottos frescoes in the Basilica in Assisi
- Italy's famous Rosso di Montefalco red wine
The Umbrian landscape is often cloaked in a silver blue haze, giving it a soft, soothing, and almost mystical quality. Western monasticism began in the Umbrian hills, and abbeys, monasteries and convents are found throughout the region. Several Christian saints were born here, the most famous being St Francis, who preached in the cobblestone streets of Assisi and prayed in the surrounding hills and fields, which today remain much as they were seven hundred years ago. Dominating the town and a magnet for thousands of tourists is the impressive Basilica of St Francis, with treasured frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Lorenzetti and Martini. But even at its most crowded, Assisi's narrow, winding lanes and medieval houses of pink stone and flowering window boxes retain a feeling of peace.
Umbria is primarily mountains and hills, streams and valleys, with terraced vineyards, orchards and miles of olive groves. Umbrian olive oil is considered by many to be Italy's best, and the wines of Orvieto are legendary. Outside of Piemonte, Umbria is the only region where truffles are found in abundance: five varieties grow wild in the woods. Lake Trasimeno, the largest in central Italy, provides a moderating influence on much of the climate.