Why go to Umbria?
Stretched across the hills and valleys on the western side of the Apennines between Rome and Tuscany, Umbria is the green heart of Italy. Olive groves creep across its hillsides, giving way to forests of oak, hornbeam and juniper and bald meadows where shepherds with enormous maremma dogs guard their flocks from wolves.
Solitary monasteries are plumbed into its dark oak forests and hilltowns ringed by fortified walls peer down into the valleys, rising in pyramids of interlocking stone walls and pantiled roofs to the church spires that crown their summits.
Umbria’s hillsides are threaded with trails trodden by pilgrims en route to Rome while down on the wide plain of the Clitunno River Roman legions once marched along the Via Flaminia.
Rustic, romantic and picture perfect, especially when spring poppies bloom among the olive trees, but what Umbria lacks is the great names that bring in the tourist hordes. True, there’s St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy, whose basilica is decorated with 13th century frescoes attributed to Giotto, and the façade of the cathedral in Orvieto is a thing of wonder, but Umbria had no Michelangelo or da Vinci, no Borgias or Bernini to gild its domes and decorate its palaces – and with one or two exceptions, that means no adoring hordes.
This is an Italy that delights in the joy of small things. In Umbria you don’t need to worship and bow and pay homage to the greats and follow your guide’s raised umbrella through packed streets. All it takes to enjoy Umbria is a pair of eyes, a stomach and a sense of wonder, although a decent pair of walking shoes helps.
It’s also a place of seasonal pleasures, with a cuisine all its own. One of the classic dishes of the Umbrian kitchen is pasta with grated Umbrian black truffles moistened with local olive oil, a dish so simple and yet so sublime that it can never be forgotten.
Travel writer, photographer and Tripologist Michael Gebicki and partner, Liz Ryan, have designed an 11-day tour of Umbria.
“It’s a region we know well. Liz’s sister has lived in Umbria for close to three decades, in a medieval olive mill in the hill town of Trevi which she and her husband have made into a lovely family home. She’s written a book about her life in Umbria, celebrated it in her artworks, and we’ve visited many times and shared her affection for the place she calls home.
“We’ve put together a 11-day itinerary starting from Rome in late April and taking in the best of Umbria. We’re based for eight nights in a simple boutique hotel at the top of Trevi, from where we’ll make exploratory trips through this compact region.
This is a small group tour, maximum 10 guests, travelling at a slow pace.
We’ll see superb artworks, but we’ll also get mud on our boots searching for truffles, the black gold of Umbria, and flour on our hands making pasta the traditional way.
We’ll stand where St Francis of Assisi preached a new message of love, sample the intense Sagrantino wine made from grapes that grow only around the hill town of Montefalco.”
You can download the Umbria Itinerary document here.
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