A land of saints and frescoes, mountains and chocolates, hill towns and medieval cities

Umbria is called the "Green Heart of Italy," a landlocked region of forested mountains, art-filled hilltowns, deep lakes, and a mystical past reflected in its prodigious output of both saints (St. Francis of Assisi chief among them) and of artists with a limpid, ethereal style (notably Perugino and his greatest protégé, Raphael).

Umbria is, in some ways, the most Italian region in all of Italy, if only for this quirky factoid: Umbria is the only region in Italy that is completely surrounded by Italy. It is the only region that does not share a border with another country or with the open sea.

Long second banana to its more famous neighbor to the west, Tuscany, Umbria has become something of a not-Tuscany for discerning visitors over the past few decades. Like Tuscany, it is a central Italian region filled with great art, fine wines, excellent hearty cuisine, ancient Etruscan and Roman remains, and medieval hilltowns graced with with Gothic and Renaissance frescoes—but it suffers smaller crowds and somewhat lower prices than does chichi Tuscany.

Places in Umbria

Some of the Giotto frescoes in the Upper Church of the Basilica of St. Francis (Photo by Dennis Jarvis)

The home town of St. Francis draws pilgrims of both religion and art history with amazing frescoes by Giotto and others (also: Roman ruins)

Piazza IV Novembre, with the Fontana Maggiore and Palazzo dei Priori (Photo by Allan Parsons)

Perugia is a capital city in a medieval hill town’s clothing


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