Travel

Umbria combines wonderful architecture the Basilica of St Francis at Assisi is a Unesco World Heritage site and lively local festivals, against a green and fertile landscape
Photo: Fototeca ENIT

The region's beech-clad hills and peaks offer a host of outdoor activities, including trekking, mountain-biking, riding and rock climbing
Photo: Fototeca ENIT

This part of Italy is famed for its black and white truffles, wild boar sausages and boutique olive oils
Photo: Fototeca ENIT

Umbria: Italy's verdant heart

12 MAY 2009
While several of Italy's best known regions have already attracted a celebrity following - George Clooney has a villa on Lake Como and Sting owns a vineyard in Tuscany there are several other parts of Italy just waiting to be discovered. Like the country's lush green heart Umbria.

If you're up for an outdoors adventure, lashings of history and reckon yourself a bit of a foodie and a connoisseur of fine wines, this could be one to pencil into your holiday plans for this summer.

Tucked between the Tuscany and Lazio, Umbria combines wonderful architecture the Basilica of St Francis at Assisi is a Unesco World Heritage site and lively local festivals, against a green and fertile landscape.

The region's beech-clad hillsides with cultivated plains, offer a host of outdoor activities, including trekking, mountain-biking, riding and rock climbing. Other sporty options include rafting, canoeing, fishing, and kayaking up the River Tiber, while Lake Trasimeno, Italy's biggest, caters to windsurfers and kite-boarders.

Mention to any Italian that you're thinking about holidaying in Umbria, however, and the first thing they'll mention will probably be its food. The area is famed for its black and white truffles, wild boar sausages and boutique olive oils.

Another local speciality worth trying are Baci or 'kisses', which are made in the regional capital of Perugia and are famous throughout Italy. Also in Perugina is the Museum of Chocolate, which hosts a festival each October which draws serious chocoholics from all over Europe.

Wine lovers will already be familiar with the vintages of Orvieto, but a trip to Umbria also offers the opportunity to catch up on the region's reds which are gaining in reputation. Try the noteworthy Sagrantino di Montefalco and Sagrantino Rosso, along with the highly praised Torgiano Rosso 'riserva', which is famed for its brilliant colour and dry taste.

A cosmopolitan city, Perugia is packed with historic sights including fabulous Roman mosaics, baroque churches and Etruscan porticoes. If you have time, spend a morning browsing the work of local artist Perugino at the National Gallery of Umbria, visit the Piazza IV Novembre, home to the Great Fountain, and stroll through the meandering cobbled streets of the old part of town.

There are plenty of opportunities to exercise your flexible friend, too, along the smart shopping street of the Corso Vannucci, which is lined with big name labels such as MaxMara, Marina Rinaldi, Elena Miro and Gianfranco Ferre.

Outside the city discover the picturesque town of Assisi, clinging to the slopes of Monte Subasio, Trevi which every November plays host to a festival focused on art, olive oil and music and the hill-top community of Orvieto, perched atop of a giant rock outcrop and dating back to Etruscan times.


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