Diverse, untouched landscapes in the greenery of winding valleys make Umbria a region that will conquer you again and again and delight you with new places. This region with its hills, cypresses and plains is very reminiscent of Tuscany, has no access to the coast and is located in the heart of Boots. You have often heard about Tuscany, but if you were asked where Umbria is, you would probably wonder for a moment …
It is a region that the Italians seem to keep to themselves and rarely write about the small towns of Umbria that delight at first sight. There is the largest lake in central Italy, the remains of Etruscan settlements and the Cascate delle Marmore waterfalls near Terni, which are among the most beautiful in Europe. The waterfalls plunge into the river Nera with a spectacular 165 m fall and are surrounded by lush vegetation. Ideal for nature lovers and those who like to enjoy canoeing or kayaking
The largest city of Umbria is Perugia, the capital of the province with about 166,000 inhabitants located in the heart of the region. A very interesting town located on a hill, surrounded by Etruscan, Roman and medieval walls. It is known for its jazz festival as well as the chocolate festival, and it is from there that the Italian delicacy you bought as a souvenir from Italy – Baci Perugina – pralines that hide quotes from famous Italian poets, and recently launched Dolce & Gabbana edition. We visited three places, of which, I must admit, I have never heard of two before – we settled for four days in the famous town of Assisi, and visited nearby places – Gubbio and Spello
Pilgrims have been coming to 13th-century Italian Assisi to worship St. Francis, who was born and buried here, but you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the beauty of this city that looks like a perfect postcard. Framed by the long, rolling hills of Umbria and the forests of Monte Subasio, Assisi is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world and one of Italy’s most enchanted gems.
Assisi is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire city enjoys this desired status due to the multitude of art and historically significant buildings, such as the Basilica of San Francesco. The basilica has such a collection of frescoes and paintings that it can be compared to many art museums. According to the UN, the city is of particular importance because of its role in spreading the Franciscan order and because of the “continuity of the city-sanctuary” from Umbrian-Roman origin to the present day. Only half an hour from Assisi lies, above the clouds, the town of Gubbio.
Gubbio – city with the famous past
Gubbio is one of the pearls of Umbria, which has remained remarkably well preserved over the centuries, with numerous monuments testifying to its glorious past. Architecturally, it represents the pinnacle of medieval civilization and society in the 1200s and 1300s, an unavoidable destination of a region rich in art, history and nature. Its noble towers, cathedrals, squares, alleys are a real spectacle for the visitor, as if he fell into the heart of the Italian Middle Ages and the Renaissance. But Gubbio is also a city that has lesser known but very interesting peculiarities.
If on the one hand it bears the nickname “the city of stone”, because of the material that shaped its aesthetics and urbanism, on the other hand it has the less noble nickname, but certainly the more curious, “the city of lunatics”. The symbol of this proverbial “madness” is the fountain, known as the fountain of the mad.
It is actually called the Bargello Fountain because it stands opposite the eponymous palace, an excellent example of Umbrian Gothic architecture: a well-preserved fourteenth-century building housing a crossbow museum and the headquarters of the Crossbow Society. In front of it, in a square called Largo Bargello, is an unusual stone fountain. A sixteenth-century sculptural work, restored in the second half of the nineteenth century, it is a fountain that allows you to get permission to be a “madman”. If you make 3 rounds around it and are sprayed – indeed, baptized – with its water, in the presence of the inhabitants of Gubbio, you can apply for some kind of crazy honorary citizenship, for which you get a certificate. But be careful: a resident of Gubbio must be present and must spray you, that is, baptize you with water.
This tradition is associated with the famous Festa dei Ceri, the most popular folk event in Gubbio. According to ancient documents, those who participated in it 3 times in a row could apply for some kind of honorary citizenship.
But why would anyone want to be crammed into the same basket with “crazy people”? It would be wrong to think that Gubbio associates this “madness” with the literal meaning of the term. Namely, it is said that the citizens of Gubbio are simply very ironic, unpredictable, funny, so to become an honorary lunatic means to share that enthusiasm with the people of this beautiful city.
Gubbio’s specialties include an intense white truffle flavor, a sauce of numerous spices for all types of pasta, which are still produced today in strict accordance with ancient techniques. In addition to truffles, there are many other excellent products used to prepare delicious dishes based on meat, cold cuts, cheese and vegetables.
One of the more photogenic streets we visited was definitely the one in the town of Spello, which at first reminds us of a larger version of Grožnjan, Istrian city (Croatia). It is also called the city of flowers and art.
From May to August, Spello residents compete to see who can best decorate their street with flowers. This competition goes to such proportions that each street resembles a mini flower fair.
Also don’t miss the Infiorate di Spello event which is held every year on a small occasion of the Corpus Christi holiday, the ninth Sunday after Easter. That night, nearly a thousand people are constantly working to create carpets and pictures of flowers along the city’s narrow streets. Floral creations cover the streets throughout the historic core in preparation for the passage of the Blessed Sacrament carried in procession by the bishop on Sunday morning. The result is a unique, one mile long trail of beautiful floral creations with an explosion of colors and scents.
Umbria as a region is known for good food and wine. It is the largest Italian producer of black truffles. You will hardly see an Umbrian menu that does not contain black truffles, either with pasta, eggs or as a crostini al truffle on an appetizer plate. The city of Norcia in Umbria is the Italian center of cured meat products, so prominent that norceria is the term for a place that sells cured meat products anywhere in Italy. No wonder Italians rarely share this region with foreigners. It is up to you to plan your departure, we have revealed the destination to you.