Explore everything from chocolate factories to underground tunnels in these three Umbrian hill towns.
The Umbria region of Italy is known as the country’s “Green Heart” — and as soon as you arrive in its leafy, lush, verdant countryside, you’ll have a good idea where the area got its nickname. If you have been to Tuscany, the scenery in Umbria is similar, but amplified: there are even more cypress-topped hills, glorious olive groves, and fields of bright yellow sunflowers.
Umbrian hill towns have their own personality, and because mass tourism has not infiltrated most areas, vacationing in Umbria feels like nothing short of a truly authentic Italian experience. It doesn’t matter which town you choose – you’ll undoubtedly be pleased with any you visit. These are a few of our favorites, though — and we think you’ll enjoy them as well.
Perugia is the capital of Umbria and will likely be the busiest location you visit (but not that busy). This medieval hill town is more than 1,600 feet above sea level and is partly surrounded by Etruscan and medieval walls.
- Visit the National Gallery of Umbria, which is one of the most impressive collections of international art in Italy.
- Tour the Perugina Chocolate Factory where you’ll learn the history of the brand, see how the chocolate is made, and eat your fill of chocolate, of course.
- For an authentic taste of the Umbrian region, stop by Osteria a Priori, which is a small restaurant and specialty food shop. They serve only local dishes and items — even the 320 label wine list is exclusively Umbrian.
- If you’re visiting during the summer, don’t miss the Umbria Jazz Festival.
English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote that Spoleto is “the most romantic city I ever saw,” and you will certainly understand why. Spoleto is intimate, filled with beautiful art, and brimming with rich history.
- One of the biggest cultural events in the Umbria region, the Spoleto Festival, takes place in June and July. There are all types of performances and exhibits to enjoy, from ballet and marionettes, to opera and cult cinema.
- Visit the Spoleto Cathedral (officially named Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) which dates back to the 12th century and features a stunning fresco created by Fra Filippo Lippi.
- When you’re hungry, sit down for a meal at Appollinare, which is known for its excellent service, impressive menu, and sophisticated atmosphere.
Todi looks like something out of a fairy tale, as it sits high on a hilltop that overlooks the Tevere Valley. Positioned in the middle of Umbria, Todi is conveniently located wherever you are in the region.
- Climb the long flight of steps up to the Cathedral, a 12th century structure built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to the god Apollo. This will give you a jaw-dropping view of the entire town, and allow you to really get a lay of the land.
- Some of the most interesting sights in Todi, however, can be found underground. There are over 5 km of tunnels, more than 30 pre-Roman, Roman, and medieval cisterns, and 500 wells from different eras that make up the underground system.
- Take a break from touring to visit Pianegiani Gelateria, the oldest gelateria in town, which was founded around 1900. Try any of the ice creams, which are all made with fresh, simple ingredients bursting with flavor.
Other Umbrian hill towns you may want to explore: Assisi, Orievto, Spello, Norcia, Bevagna, and Montefalco.
Want to stay longer than a weekend? WIMCO’s villas in Umbria can be found in several different charming hill towns, and include authentic, restored farmhouses in rural locales. Browse our collection of villas in Umbria with your family and friends, and choose a comfortable, spacious home base in the Umbrian countryside. Our Villa Specialists will make your trip as individualized as you and your travel companions are.
Leave a comment: Which of these Umbrian hill towns would you visit first?
Interested in more Italian adventures? Travel to the coast of Capri and read about the variety of restaurants offered with a water front view: The Complete Guide to Capri Part I