Umbria is located in the geographical centre of Italy, between Tuscany and Le Marche. The capital is Perugia, a city founded by the Etruscans. Umbria is the region where in a relatively confined space the visitor can enjoy the best aspects of Italian life, history and culture.
Improved communications are opening up the region to new types of visitors attracted by the artistic and cultural heritage as well as the opportunities for having a second home, taking holiday breaks in peaceful country locations, or enjoying outdoor sports in attractive settings.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0
The hills, covered with evergreen oak, account for the traditional description of Umbria as 'the green heart of Italy'. Between the Tiber valley and the Tuscan towns of Cortona and Arezzo there is an attractive area of wooded hills. Just west of Perugia is Lake Trasimeno, Umbria's largest expanse of water, and scene of the battle where Hannibal and his elephants defeated the Romans in 217 BC. South of Lake Trasimeno the landscape changes, becoming gently undulating rather than hilly or mountainous and the houses are built of terracotta bricks rather than stone, which gives a different look to the countryside.
Perugia is home to the National Gallery of Umbria with a rich collection of paintings by Renaissance masters such as Duccio, Giotto, Gentile da Fabriano, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and Pinturicchio. Città della Pieve to the south was the birthplace of Pietro Vannucci, the Umbrian painter also known as 'Il Perugino'. In Assisi the Basilica of Saint Francis is famous for its amazing set of frescoes by Giotto.
For sports-oriented visitors, Monte Cucco above Gubbio, and Monte Vettore near Norcia, are centres for hang-gliding enthusiasts. Gubbio is home to an annual international Arab horse endurance riding event. White water rafting and kayaking are available in the Val Nerina near Spoleto, as well as skiing in winter. Country walking, bird and nature watching, and pony-trekking can be enjoyed almost everywhere in Umbria. There are also several golf courses in the region.
Umbria has plenty of good food and wine: there are truffles in the Val Nerina, as well as fresh and smoked trout. Wild boar are hunted every autumn and the meat is turned into prosciutto and sausages . Olives grow all over the region and Umbrian olive oil is prized for its low acidity and delicate flavour. Montefalco red wine and Grechetto white have a justly merited international reputation.
Alongside the genial and hospitable Umbrians there is now a sizeable population of resident and holidaying foreigners. Most have come for the countryside lifestyle and settle in old farmhouses. Many of these have now been restored to levels of comfort the previous inhabitants could only have dreamt of, mixing traditional building materials such as stone, terracotta and chestnut wood fittings with state of the art Jacuzzis and fitted kitchens. There is also no shortage of town houses and apartments in historic buildings in very attractive towns such as Città di Castello and Assisi.
About the Author
Roger Coombes is a Director of Cluttons Italy, specialist Italyian Realtors and Estate Agents with particular experience of buying and selling property in Umbria.