Italy is made up of 20 regions, each with distinctive characteristics. Here, you’ll get an overview of Umbria to get you started on planning a Umbria trip.
In central Italy, Tuscany gets most of the attention – with good reason. But often-overlooked Umbria, despite being hailed as “the next Tuscany” for years, is still much less visited than its neighbor. Nicknamed “The Green Heart of Italy,” this land-locked region offers a host of historic sights, unique cuisine, and some of the most beautiful rural scenery you’ll find anywhere.
Umbria is by no means off-the-beaten-track – its sole UNESCO site is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites anywhere – but you’re still likely to find smaller crowds (and, in some areas, better prices) than in the more popular regions. It’s not necessarily as easy to get around in Umbria without a car, but the extra effort pays off.
Umbria is Italy’s 5th-smallest region, and the only one that has neither a coastline or a border with another country. Despite its small size and proximity to the incredibly popular region of Tuscany, Umbria also has Italy’s 6th-lowest population density. This is a region of rolling green hills, historic villages, and not a lot of people.
Umbria may not be very large, but its mountainous terrain means it takes longer to get from Point A to Point B than you think it might. This is also a region in which it’s extremely helpful to have a car at your disposal. The larger cities and towns have train stations, yes, and regional buses will help you get around, but having your own car means you aren’t limited to a bus schedule or seeing only larger towns. Besides that, driving in the Umbria countryside is a breeze compared to driving in any of Italy’s cities (which you should probably avoid doing).
(Of course, if you won’t – or can’t – rent a car, don’t skip Umbria. You can still see the highlights.)
The high seasons in Umbria are generally the same as they are in most of Italy – summer is busier than winter – but prices in Umbria don’t tend to be as high for things like hotels and great meals as they might be in in neighboring Tuscany. The Umbrian capital of Perugia is a busy international city, thanks in part to its university. Assisi draws quite large pilgrimage crowds. Orvieto is a popular day trip from Rome. As mentioned, Umbria is not exactly a forgotten region. And yet it may well feel like one if you’ve mainly spent time in the biggest tourist cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice. It’s an ideal region for a romantic Italy trip, partly because of its inherently slower pace.
It’s worth a day trip to Assisi or Orvieto from Rome if that’s all you’ve got time for, and much better if you’re able to stay in the region for a few days.
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