Last week, our friends over at Oliver’s Travels interviewed us about the Green Heart of Italy. Today, we share their top 10 reasons for visiting this fantastic region.
The Top 10 Reasons to Visit Umbria
It might be landlocked, but to overlook Umbria is to overlook one of the best-kept secrets in Italy. Often overshadowed by its grandstanding neighbor Tuscany, Umbria is smaller, quieter and much less crowded. If you’re looking for a true Italian experience, try staying in a wonderful villa in Umbria and enjoying the hilly landscapes and sumptuous local produce. It’s a world away from a hectic city break, and much more relaxing too.
Still need convincing? Here’s 10 great reasons why you should choose Umbria for your next Italian adventure!
1. It does one Italian staple better than anyone
And what staple is that, you might ask? Easy – olive oil. Umbria is often (and rightfully) lauded for the standard of its produce, and it’s particularly true of its olives and the oil they produce. If you’re over, be sure to pick up a bottle or two to bring a zesty new dimension to your home cooking, whether that’s in salads, sauces or just enjoyed with a hunk of ciabatta and a bit of balsamic vinegar!
2. And another less well, but that doesn’t really matter!
For a long time, Umbrian wine was seen as a poor cousin of more famous vintages, particularly those from Tuscany. However, in recent years Umbrian wine has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and Sagrantino di Montefalco wines in particular are fast making a name for themselves, so make sure you keep an eye out.
3. And the landscape adds to the charm!
The landscape in Umbria is remarkably hilly, and while you’ll find some of those hills topped with the aforementioned vineyards and wineries, others are crowned by beautiful and charming towns. Spoleto, Gubbio and Assisi are easy to reach and enchanting to explore, with plenty to see and do and each with their own quaint appeal.
4. As well as taking you back in time
History buffs and those with a bit of romanticism in their hearts will have another reason to enjoy Umbria’s hilltop towns, particularly Spello, Gubbio and Perugia. They all retain a wealth of their medieval (and sometimes even Roman!) architecture, taking you right back to the days of the Renaissance and beyond.
5. Italy’s “Green Heart” is also a foodie heaven!
Umbria is nicknamed the “Green Heart of Italy” and it’s not just because of the lush, verdant landscape is, well… so green. It’s also celebrated for the magnificent produce grown and reared on the fertile land, produce that goes way beyond grapes and olives. From charcuterie to mushrooms, from trout to asparagus, when it comes to fresh, fantastic food Umbria is probably the best region of Italy to head to.
6. And carnivores have one huge treat waiting for them…
If you’ve ever tried a roast pork sandwich you’ll know how well hot, juicy pork, sweet apple sauce and crispy crackling go when stuffed between two hunks of soft white bread. In Umbria this is taken to the next level with Porchetta, deboned pig stuffed with fennel and spit roasted, then sliced and crammed between slices of fresh Italian bread. It is, quite simply, irresistible.
7. And gourmet eaters are served even better!
Remember how just a couple of entries ago we were talking about how there’s so much wonderful produce coming out of Umbria? There was one we didn’t mention, and it’s one of Umbria’s most prized exports – truffles. But it’s not just hyper-expensive mushrooms that’ll tickle your gourmet palate. Umbria’s humble lentils are prized by chefs and foodies throughout the world – so make sure you try some if you visit.
8. It has a chocolate festival
Sticking with food (because it’s seriously one of the best things about Umbria) Perugia is a major producer of quality chocolates, which culminates in Eurochocolate, a week long festival celebrating all things chocolatey. And yes, free samples are given out – up to a million of them each year, in fact.
9. There’s plenty of stuff to keep you fit and active
Nearly 10% of Umbria is taken up by protected parklands and nature reserves, which make a great place to head for the day if you feel like enjoying the open air. Walking, rafting and mountain biking are perennially popular, but if you want to experience the landscape in a whole new way, try heading through on horseback. The kids will love it!
10. And there’s some truly magical places to stay
There’s an absolutely massive choice when it comes to hotels and holiday homes in Italy, but some of the luxury Umbrian villas available make the very best of staying in the glorious countryside while providing the best creature comforts including wifi, swimming pools and a whole lot more. It’s by far the most authentic and most enjoyable way to experience Italy’s most underrated region!
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Memories of Elsa Bruno