Food N' Wine Vacations Blog

The most magical and beautiful hill towns of Umbria

Posted by smadar Palace on Fri, Nov, 15, 2013

Umbria is located in the heart of Italy, easily within reach of major cities like Rome or Florence. Umbria's towns aren't packed with tourists and tour buses like its Tuscan sister, allowing visitors who are looking for off-the beaten path to experience and discover a true gem. There are many charming perched towns in Umbria but here we'll outline the must-see ones.

Spoleto

Spoleto's known by Spoleto Summer Festival, Europe's leading cultural event that includes music, opera, dance and visual arts preformances. The rest of the year, it is a lively, romantic, and charming town, a town that by simply walking you will discover boutiques, hand-crafted ceramic shops,  an excellent selection of restaurants, and cafes. You will see the residents, not tourists, go about thier daily life: picking something at the local delicatessen, sitting down for lunch with friends, and children going home to have lunch and siesta. 

Spoleto Castle, Umbria (Rocca)

Spoleto has a castle on the hilltop, Rocca, that is the center piece of this beautiful area. The countryside around it absolutely stunning. Nearby, there's the Tower Brigde (Ponte delle Torri), a 14th century bridge built over the foundation of a Roman aqueduct. The bridge is about 750 feet long and at the highest point it's 262 feet above the gorge. You can usually walk on the bridge for breathtaking views of the valley and gorge below.

Spello  

Spello has some of Italy's best preserved city walls, many of them Roman, some medieval. Spello's main point of interest is the town itself: its hundreds of steep medieval streets and stairways, arches and angles, decorated by coloroful seasonal flowers.

Spello, Umbria,Italy

The most important annual event is the Infiorata flower festival, on Corpus Domini Sunday. For months, the residence of Spello and other participants collect flowers in the mountains to cover the entire streets of Spello with intricate flower images. Some of the pictures are so refined and detailed that it is almost impossible to notice the flowers- they look like paintings. The event has grown over the years and now attracts tens of thousands of visitors during the night from Saturday to Sunday. While more than 50 flower artist groups assemble their competing images, the visitors walk around and look on in awe. 

Spello flower festival, Umbria, Italy

Bevagna 

The walled city of Bevagna is different from other hill towns in Umbria simply because it's not on a hill but sits on the banks  of the Topino river. Nevertheless, it feels like a perfect medieval, stone-constructed hilltop village.
Bevagna, Umbria, Italy

This cute, tiny village has a fairytale feel to it. Every June, Bevagna recreates its medieval past with set of events called the "Mercato delle Gaite". The inhabitants dress in 14th-century costumes, and each quarter of the city creates a tavern, which is open in the evening and serves dishes made from medieval recipes. One of the most popular events is the large market, where goods made according to 12th and 13th-century techniques are sold. Artisan workshops are also recreated, and some are often in operation all year around, providing schoolchildren with a lesson in the skills of the past. This is a truly unique experience.

Bevagna, Umbria medieval festival

Montefalco 

Montefalco is one of Umbria's most interesting wine zones, famous for its Sagrantino di Montefalco wine, Umbria's flagship wine. The walled town is perched at a uniquely strategic point which makes many call Montefalco the "Balcony of Umbria". 

Montefalco Vineyard, wine tasting umbria 

Assisi

The first sight of Assisi, perched halfway up the slope of Mount Subasio, is extraordinary. Virtually untouched by modern architecture, with the soft pink of its medieval buildings shimmering against the greenery of the mountain, Assisi is an experience for the eye and the soul. Famous as the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi holds religious, historical, and artistic significance. Despite the many tourists visiting it every day, it does not loose its charm.

Assisi, Umbria, Italy

Orvieto 

Umbria's grand hill town sits majestically on a large volcanic rock. Orvieto'a famous Duomo is visible for miles around. The Duomo, called the Golden Lily of Cathedrals, is famous for its mosaics that decorate its incomparable facade.

Orvieto, umbria, italy

Saint Patrick's Well is another architectural marvel that was built for Pope Clement VII  in case of siege or conflict. It is 175 feet  deep and inside are two double-spiralled stairwells, planned for easier transportation of water. St. Patrick well Orvieto, Umbria,Italy

Underground Orvieto is a facinating journey through time. There's a real underground city made up of a large number of caves and tunnels that cross and overlap underneath the urban fabric, where Orvieto’s inhabitants have carried out a multitude of daily activities since the city’s origins back in Etruscan times.  

underground passage Orvieto, resized 600 

Want to see a magical itinerary in Umbria: Check out Culinary Paradise 

                                       

Topics: Italy, Assisi, Spoleto, Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco, Orvieto, Norcia, Towns of Umbria, flower festival, Medieval festival

How I fell in love with the towns of the Umbria region, Italy

Posted by smadar Palace on Wed, Nov, 13, 2013

Umbria, Italy

Umbria caught me by surprise. I have been to many places and traveled through different regions in Italy, yet I was not ready for the stunning beauty of Umbria. For some odd reason, Umbria does not get the same PR as its neighbor, Tuscany.  Umbria is the shy, beautiful sister, sitting quietly, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be fallen in love with.

 I was driving from Tuscany to Umbria as part of my job. What job? I am a tour designer specialized in finding interesting places, activities,  people, Food and Wine, in order to create itineraries for  travelers who look for one of a kind experience. 

As I was driving on the main road from Tuscany to Umbria, thinking, probably Umbria will be more or like Tuscany, same villages. Not much of a difference. But then the scenery starts changing and you start to see from both sides of the road green mountains. And you keep driving and you see more of these green mountains with forested slopes and you start thinking that you arrived to another country and you get the feeling that this is not Tuscany anymore. No rolling hills and winding roads but beautiful forested slopes.

Monti Sibillini park, Umbria- Food and wine Tour

And all of a sudden Assisi rises above, high up at the top with its powerful architecture.

More about Assisi in the next  blog post: Magical Towns of umbria

Assisi, Umbria,Italy

One of the things you will discover in Umbria is that most villages you visit go way back before the medieval ages, they are strategically located very high up, which always a striking view from the road, a presence, has surrounded by the lavish green mountains and they are beautifully preserved. You will mostly see Italians, locals, which will make you feel part of the local life. You will see them shopping for everyday products, standing in line in their street bakery to buy home favorite biscuits or local cake, or going to the check if there is fresh ricotta cheese from the shepherds, or special jam from a local convent that the nuns make.

Spello, Umbria, Italy

One of the things I realized very quickly that Umbria is very easy to navigate. Unlike Tuscany, that sometime gets you carsick from all the winding hills and never ending tiny hill roads, Umbria has good major roads and you don’t have to spend too much time driving from one place to another.

Norcia, Umbria. Food and wine Tour

 Umbria is big on Food. The cuisine is known for being fresh and seasonal, simple and delicious.  Umbria is famous for truffles, grains and the best cured meats in Italy.

Read more about  the Food and wine in Umbria in next blog post. 

There are qualities to Umbria that sets it apart: Old traditions and adventure, gastronomy and mysticism, magical towns and genuine people all surrounded by majestic landscape.

i invite you to fall in love with Umbria! 

Want to see a sample itinerary in Umbria: Culinary Paradise

 

Topics: Umbria, Assisi, Orvietto, Tour umbria, Umbria tour, Umbria touring, food and wine tour italy, Italy tour 2014. umbria Tuscany, Tuscany umbria