A landlocked region between Tuscany, Le Marche and Lazio, Umbria is famous for its rolling green hills. Right at the centre of this Green Heart of Italy is Assisi, which has some of Italy’s most beautiful architecture and treasured art.
What’s more, the region has region is relatively untouched with plenty of open space and natural landscapes to explore. Add to this the rich culture and laid-back Umbrian approach to life, and you’ll find you have the perfect place to experience Italy at a traditionally relaxed pace for less than you’d expect.
The best cultural travel experiences in Italy
In the north of Umbria, you can admire the art of some of the world’s most famous painters. The churches in the region are home to some of the finest paintings in central Italy – and they’re all free to see.
Visit the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi in Assisi to see works by Pietro Lorenzetti, Simone Martini and Giotto. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find the Eremo delle Carceri hermitage where Saint Francis would retreat to contemplate in silence.
Just a hop, a skip and a jump away in Spello is the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the magnificently decorated Cappella Baglioni. With three-panel frescoes painted by Pinturicchio, an Umbrian painter who later added the Vatican to his CV, and an ornate majolica tiled floor, the chapel is spectacular enough to keep you occupied for at least a couple of hours.
Round of your cultural experience off with a trip to one of Umbria’s famous festivals. Giving you a taste of Umbrian life you wouldn’t find anywhere else, a sarga (festival) will feature local saints, medieval traditions and delicious food. Some of the most popular during the warmer months are Prochettiamo, Mercato delle Gaite in Bevagna and Infiorate in Spello. These festivals mark the feast of Corpus Domini, or the Last Supper, and the streets of the towns that host them are carpeted in petals during the celebrations. Entrance to most festivals is free, but you’ll have to pay for your food.
Umbria has plenty to offer if you’re looking to explore the great outdoors. With a relatively small population and no bustling metropolises in sight, the unspoilt region has plenty of fresh air for and wide open spaces. All of which can be explored on a budget.
The undulating landscapes of Umbria make it the perfect place to roam by bike, whether you still need a set of training wheels or you’re ready for a downhill derby. The roads surrounding Lake Trasimeno as well as those that link the historical towns of Bevagna and Spoleto are perfect for beginners. Intermediates will enjoy climbing the gentle hills dotted with olive groves and vineyards, while there are plenty of passes on Apennine Mountains to satisfy the experts. Tour companies like Umbria by Bike can set up a cycling itinerary to help you get the most of your cycling experience.
If you prefer to explore on foot, you can follow the Cammino di Francesco. This nine-night pilgrimage takes an ancient Roman road through this striking countryside. Following the footsteps of Saint Francis through Umbria, the walk takes visitors through some of the best preserved Roman towns in Italy.
There are shorter routes to explore, too. Just outside of Assisi is Mount Subasio and its many trails. Explore the San Vittorino Bridge route with its Roman bridges and follow the Marchetto Canyon to discover the spectacular gorges carved by the river and. Or walk the same paths Michelangelo once strolled through the woods of Monteluco near Spoleto.
Adventure travel in Italy
With so many wide open spaces, it should come as no surprise that Umbria is a hub of adventure activities. While we’ve already seen that there are plenty of biking and hiking trails through Italy’s ‘green heart’, there’s another amazing experience that will help you see this beautiful region from a completely different perspective.
Situated in Assisi, Balloon Adventures Italy allows visitors to feel the magic of flight while getting a bird’s eye view of the verdant landscape and pristine architecture. There’s nothing quite like floating over the many hills covered with olive groves and vineyards in the serene silence of the countryside. And at €195 it’s reasonably priced too.
Experience the best views Umbria has to offer with Balloon Adventures Italy.Book Your Balloon Ride