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Umbria, or the “Green Heart of Italy,” is an often overlooked hidden gem region. With spectacular rolling hills, hundreds of miles of vineyards, and lush forests, it’s easy to see why Umbria has earned this nickname. 

Unlike the bustling tourist hubs of Italy, the far-off corners of Umbria still offer a serene and authentic experience, a true reflection of the Italian way of life. Here, you can meander through medieval towns frozen in time, explore ancient Etruscan ruins, and indulge in cuisine like you’ve never tasted before. 

Umbria is steeped in history, with roots that trace back to the Etruscans and Romans. Its towns and cities are living museums, where ancient walls, grand cathedrals, and charming piazzas tell stories of another time. 

While many know the region for the town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, and for the Perugina Chocolate factory, this lesser-traveled region of Italy has so much more to offer than meets the eye. 

Umbria Geography & Provinces

Located in Central Italy and bordering Tuscany, Lazio, and Marche, Umbria is one of a few completely landlocked Italian regions. Even without a coastline, it is still one of Italy’s most beautiful regions, with stunning verdant mountains as the backdrop to a wine-tasting or truffle hunt.

The region is split into two provinces, Perugia and Terni, with Perugia covering much of the Eastern side. The capital city of Perugia is in the center North of the region, with the famous town of Assisi just a 30-minute drive away. 

Gubbio, home to the world’s largest Christmas tree, is in the North of the region, while Terni, home to the world’s tallest manmade waterfall, is in the South. 

Lago Trasimeno, the fourth largest lake in Italy, is situated in the West near the Tuscan border. Many small villages line the lakeside, and there are even historic Etruscan castles, such as Castiglione del Lago. 

umbria italy weather

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Should I visit Umbria or Tuscany? 

When travelers think of Italy, Tuscany often comes to mind with its rolling hills, vineyards, and historic towns. However, just a little to the southeast lies Umbria, a region that offers all the charm of Tuscany and more, and if you know where to go Umbria can be a great respite from the hoards of tourists that Tuscany attracts. 

Known for its picturesque landscapes and famous destinations like Florence, Siena, and Pisa, Tuscany attracts millions of tourists each year. Just last summer there were more tourists in Tuscany than the residents that live there! While its beauty is undeniable, its popularity all too often leads to crowded streets, busy attractions, and a more commercialized feel. Not to mention the negative effects that over-tourism has on the average local and cost of living.

Umbria, on the other hand, away from popular cities like Assisi, Montefalco, and Perugia, offers equally breathtaking landscapes with rolling hills, lush valleys, and serene lakes, but with a fraction of the tourists. The region’s unspoiled beauty allows for a more peaceful and authentic experience. You can explore charming towns without jostling through throngs of tourists, making your visit more intimate and enjoyable. In addition to the fact that by choosing Umbria over Tuscany, your presence will help the local economy while helping ease the pressure of over-tourism in Italy’s most frequented regions and cities.

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When Should You Visit Umbria? – Weather and Crowds

There’s truly not a “bad” time to visit Umbria! Unlike other regions of Italy, much of the region hasn’t been overrun by tourism. The weather is chilly in the winter, mild and temperate in the spring and fall, and warm to hot in the summers, often mild enough for enjoying outdoor festivals. 

In the Spring, flowers line the hilltops making the region an explosion of color. In the summertime, many famous festivals take place, such as Infiorata in Spello or the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia. Learn more about Italy’s best cultural festivals here! 

When winter arrives, the temperatures drop as the holidays approach, meaning tourist crowds largely thin out for much of the region. However, Gubbio is home to Italy’s Largest Christmas tree and a bustling Christmas Market, which is definitely worth a visit!

Our favorite time to visit Umbria by far, though, is in the fall harvest season. There is no greater beauty than watching a golden sunset over the rolling vineyards. The fall is when you will get the opportunity to see the heart of the region in its winemaking and enjoy autumn’s spectacular seasonal dishes. 

That’s exactly why we host our Italy Uncorked tour in Umbria exclusively in September and October. Visitors with us experience an exclusive welcome wine-tasting evening, Umbrian organic farm visits, and a private honey-making experience with a biodynamic renowned beekeeper, followed by lunch in an ancient Abbey! With so many wonderful dishes to savor, it’s a tour that will delight any food and wine lover whether it’s your first trip to Italy or one of many!

when should you visit umbria italy

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Getting to Umbria

The most common entry point into Umbria for international travelers is through the Rome Fiumicino Airport. From Rome, Umbria can be reached by train, car, or bus in about two hours. Trains from Rome to Perugia or Assisi run quite frequently. 

Check out our guides to Italy’s International Airports and Italy’s Train Stations on getting to and around Italy! 

Don’t want the headache of worrying about logistics on your trip to Umbria? No problem! When you join us on Italy Uncorked we’ll pick you up! From the moment you’re met at the airport to our finals goodbyes you’ll take the guesswork out of your trip to Umbria on this all inclusive Italian vacation.

Getting Around Umbria

We strongly recommend traveling around Umbria by car. While the train line does connect the major cities of Terni, Spoleto, Foligno, and Perugia, you will miss out on the charming, small villages with beautiful landscapes and unique experiences. 

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car and driving in a foreign country? We’ll do the driving! Explore Umbria with local travel experts who will show you the hidden gems you never would have found on your own and enjoy all those wonderful wine tasting experiences without missing out by having to be the designated driver on your trip to Umbria.

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Umbria Cuisine & Wine

Known for its farm-to-table philosophy, Umbria’s cuisine celebrates fresh, local ingredients prepared with time-honored techniques. As one of the only Italian regions without a coastline, many of the famous dishes are centered around meat, vegetables, or legumes. 

Torta al Testo

Torta al Testo is a traditional Umbrian flatbread often compared to focaccia but uniquely its own. It is typically sliced and filled with a variety of delicious ingredients, such as prosciutto, local cheeses, or grilled vegetables. It makes for a perfect snack or light meal, and the best of this dish is often found at local markets from street vendors. 

Black Truffles

Umbria is famed for its truffles, particularly the prized black truffles from Norcia and white truffles found in the region’s woodlands. These aromatic fungi are a gourmet delicacy, adding a rich and earthy flavor to dishes. Since Umbria is Italy’s largest truffle-hunting region, the ingredient is more readily available in all seasons. 

Truffles are often shaved over pasta, risotto, or eggs, infusing the dish with their distinctive aroma. Many restaurants in Umbria have special menus featuring seasonal truffle dishes. 

Porchetta

Did you know that Norcia, Umbria, is also the pork capital of Italy? Porchetta is a savory, boneless pork roast seasoned with garlic, rosemary, fennel, and other herbs. The meat is slow-roasted until the outside is crispy and the inside is tender and juicy.

This meat is sliced and served in sandwiches, often at local markets and food festivals. Other pork-based meats from Norcia include corallina, capocollo, mazzafegato, and coppa di testa. 

Castelluccio Lentils

The lentils from Castelluccio, a small village in the Sibillini Mountains, are renowned for their quality and unique taste. These small, tender lentils have a delicate flavor and hold their shape well when cooked.

The lentils are often featured in hearty soups and stews, paired with sausages or simply dressed with olive oil and herbs. They are a staple in Umbrian cuisine and a perfect comfort food.

Pecorino Cheese

Pecorino is a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk and a staple in Umbrian cuisine. The region produces several varieties, each with its own distinct flavor profile.

Often grated over pasta dishes, served with honey and walnuts, or simply enjoyed on its own with a glass of local wine. The aged versions, known as Pecorino stagionato, have a sharper taste and are particularly delicious.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG

Sagrantino is a robust red wine native to Montefalco, known for its deep color and rich, tannic flavor. It is made from the Sagrantino grape, which is indigenous to the region and is considered one of Italy’s finest red wines. According to some studies, this may be the “healthiest” wine with the most antioxidants. 

Love wine? Then you should know that Italy Uncorked is our only tour where all meals are included and has the most wine experiences out of all the trips you can join us on ! Enjoy all of Umbria’s top cuisine and have that “best meal of your life” moment with every meal and never worry about making a dinner reservation.

umbria travel tips italy

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Notable Destinations & Towns in Umbria, Italy

Assisi

Assisi is one of Umbria’s most renowned destinations. It is the famed birthplace of St. Francis, one of Italy’s patron saints. This small town perched on a hill offers a deep sense of peace and spirituality alongside breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

The Basilica of St. Francis is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and many visit for religious tours each year. 

Gubbio

Gubbio is one of the oldest towns in Umbria, with roots dating back to pre-Roman times. It’s known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, steep streets, and vibrant traditions. The Gubbio Roman Theatre is one of Italy’s best-preserved ancient theatres and is still used for shows today. And Gubbio’s medieval town center was featured in the original Romeo and Juliet film! 

Orvieto

Perched on a volcanic rock, Orvieto is a striking town known for its magnificent cathedral, underground tunnels, and exquisite wine.

Beneath the town lies a labyrinth of Etruscan tunnels and caves. Guided tours offer a fascinating journey through these ancient passages, revealing wells, cisterns, and storage rooms – it’s a great spot to visit after our Italy Uncorked tour!

Terni

Terni, often known as the “City of Lovers” due to its association with St. Valentine and the home of the Basilica of St. Valentine, offers a mix of industrial history and natural beauty. 

The town is close to Marmore Falls, one of the tallest manmade waterfalls in the world, built by ancient Romans. It is a breathtaking sight to see from many vantage points. 

Thinking about visiting Italy’s Green Heart? If you’re a foodie or a wine lover, we have the perfect option for you. 

Our Italy Uncorked tour includes all meals and experiences in Umbria and the Marche region exclusive to our guests, including a bespoke underground cave tour, a UNESCO heritage site that is the most well-preserved Renaissance Palace in the Marche region, and three wine tastings across both regions. 

Join us on tour to experience the real Italy! 

 

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