Assisi view

To many travellers, Umbria is at first defined in relation to other, more familiar neighbouring parts of Italy. Tuscany, a region twice as large, lies on its northwest border. Mighty Rome is due south, fed by the great Tiber River whose headwaters have their source in Umbria's rocky peaks.

Those who justifiably love this landlocked region in the very heart of Italy remain quite contented for it to play second fiddle. That merely leaves Umbria all the more unspoiled and uncrowded, a treasure trove awaiting discovery only by truly discerning souls. And, oh, what treasures! Ancient castles and venerable monasteries rise from green hillsides populated with the most enchanting little towns. Close by Lago Trasimeno, the nation's largest lake, the city of Perugia showcases Etruscan and Roman ruins, a red-and-white-marble Gothic cathedral, and elegant Renaissance buildings. You can visit the charming village of Assisi, both the birthplace and the final resting place of Saint Francis. Or you can ramble through woodlands so dense they seem enchanted, along sparkling streams, or through fields and vineyards every bit as beautiful and sun-kissed as Tuscany's far more heralded (and far more tourist-trodden) landscape.

Principal City: Perugia
Tourist Board: Umbria

Of course, such rural pleasures promise a cuisine of rare bounty. You'll discover some of Italy's finest restaurants in Umbria, featuring a down-to-earth yet refined cuisine famed for its fresh and cured pork, robust pastas, freshwater fish, and, most of all, highly prized black truffles that lend their seductive perfume to many dishes. Umbrian wines have won renown well beyond the region's borders, including refreshing white Orvieto and the fine red Torgiano Rosso, along with versions of more widely known non-Italian varietals as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.

Indeed, it would take many days to savour all the rare experiences that Umbria so modestly offers. But just such rewards do await those souls who are wise enough to follow the less beaten path to Italy's heartland.

Districts (Provinces) & Towns of Umbria Region

Assisi | Gubbio | Orvieto | Perugia (Province) | Terni (Province) | Todi