Why book a holiday in Umbria, Italy?
We, Roos and Nico of the small-scale Polmone Turismo Verde, have had an authentic farmhouse in Umbria for 31 years, where we have been receiving guests for 30 years! And if you ask us why Umbria is so attractive to vacation, we can give you 7 excellent reasons for booking a holiday in Umbria.
1. One of the safest regions in Italy
Who would have ever thought that we would start thinking about any health risks when considering a holiday in Italy! Unfortunately, we have all ended up in a new reality and it is wise to inform yourself well about the contamination figures per region. The Italian Ministry of Health has one dashboard where you always get the most current figures can view. The regions of Umbria, Aosta Valley, Sardinia and the Molise have been the regions with the least infections for months. At the time of writing, Umbria has 22 infections for 880,000 inhabitants. A good reason to choose a holiday in Umbria. I've been there before an article written about it for the Gazzetta of Polmone.
2. The greenest region in Italy
That low number of infections has everything to do with the fact that Umbria is the green heart of Italy. Umbria is a region consisting mainly of green valleys, rolling hills, streams, waterfalls, lakes and forests. UNESCO has even designated the area where Polmone Turismo Verde is located as a biodiversity reserve in 2019.
Umbria is a region where little has been cultivated. The old forests there have remained relatively untouched and for that reason, unlike the rest of Italy, there are remains of several antique connecting roads well kept.
An ideal area for walking without meeting anyone. Especially if you visit the somewhat higher part in the south of Umbria, the Monte Sibillini. A beautiful nature reserve with a special plateau, the Piano Grande. The Fioritura of the Piano Grande is famous for its floral splendor from late spring to mid-July.
The waterfalls of Marmore at Terni are also really worth a visit. They are the highest waterfalls in Europe. The water flows down from 165 meters and it is fun for young and old to climb along the waterfall to the highest point of the waterfall.
In short, in Umbria you will still find space and untouched nature. If you like to spend your holiday surrounded by nature, the Umbria region is a very good choice.
3. An ideal place for an active holiday
Umbria is an ideal place for an active holiday. As I wrote above you can take endless wild walks. You can follow in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi. Going into Monte Sibillini. Or do you prefer cycling? In Umbria you will find beautiful mountain bike trails. At Spoleto you can cycle to Norcia along the former railway line, the ex-ferrovia between Norcia and Spoleto. The route passes gorges, goes through tunnels, over bridges and is considered the most beautiful cycling route in all of Italy.
And are you a water person and in for a bit of excitement? At the waterfalls of Marmore, but also in the Monte Sibillini near Norcia you can go rafting or canoeing.
For some calmer water fun you can go to Lake Trasimeno. You can sail and swim there.
Or do you like waves? This is possible near Perugia and south of Lake Trasimeno.
4. Traces of the Etruscans
The Etruscans settled in western-central Italy between the 10th and 8th century BC. So also in Umbria. Orvieto, for example, was built on the site of the Etruscan city-state of Velsna, a wealthy city that was part of the League of Twelve. Etruscan collections can be seen in the Museo del Duomo and the old Palazzo dei Papi.
In Perugia, the old Etruscan walls are still intact, the Porta Marzia, an Etruscan triumphal arch and subterranean cemeteries.
Be sure to visit the Museo Archeologico. The Etruscan well (Sorbello) in Perugia is a special example of the knowledge of hydraulic technology of this people.
5. Special destinations to visit in Umbria
If you are in Umbria you will of course visit the main Umbrian cities, Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto and Spoleto. Picturesque cities with special sights such as the Basilica of Francis in Assisi, the Rocca Paolina in Perugia, the Cathedral of Orvieto and the Aqueduct of Spoleto. But we also like to point out the lesser-known gems that Umbria has to offer. Places that do not appear in the standard travel guides, but are definitely worth a visit.
A special recommendation is La Scarzuola, the ideal city of Tomaso Buzzi at the foot of Montegiove. La Scarzuola was founded as a monastery in 1216 by Francis of Assisi. In the 60s, however, there were no longer enough monks and the monastery was closed, after which it was purchased by the eccentric architect Tomaso Buzzi. You will end up in the mystical world of Buzzi. A visit is only possible by appointment.
While you're there, also visit the tiny mountain village of Greppolischieto.
Another very special place to visit is the village of Montecastello di Vibio where you will find the smallest theater in the world, theater La Concordia. Built in 1808, the theater is a unique example of an eighteenth century Goldoni style theater. The Goldoni style is characterized by wooden boxes and a bell-shaped construction. The theater has only 99 seats. Luigi Agretti from La Spezia painted all the frescoes that decorate the walls and ceilings of the theater in 1892 at the age of 15.
The theater is open for viewings and there is still very regular performance.
6. Enjoy the culinary traditions in Umbria
Umbrian cuisine is originally a peasant kitchen. Very tasty dishes with simple, fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. The typical ingredients are predominantly pork, game, pigeon, duck, mutton, truffle, mushrooms, sheep cheese, lentils, red potato and spelled. Only around Lake Trasimeno and Lake Corbara you will find fish on the menu in the restaurants.
The black truffle is found in many places in Umbria, but the white truffle is also found in the area around Norcia and Città della Pieve.
You won't believe it, but years ago a couple from San Venanzo with two truffle dogs always came looking for black truffles 800 meters from Polmone Turismo Verde, right next to the dirt road!
And that is the nice thing about people who are much closer to nature than we Dutch. Because in the autumn you see people looking for mushrooms in nature, in the winter the hunters come and in the spring they go hunting wild asparagus. Recipes are passed on from generation to generation and Italians themselves never eat as good as with mum!
7. Award-winning wines
When considering going on holiday to the Umbria region, you can now really include the choice of beautiful wines from this region. It is not only the region of Tuscany that produces beautiful wines anymore. Thanks to the emergence of modern vinification techniques in the 19the century, the Umbrian wines have undergone enormous development. The Etruscans already produced wine and in Roman times the Umbrian wine was already appreciated, but especially in recent years the Umbrian wine has been going very well and many wines deserve the DOC or DOCG predicate.
The most famous Umbrian wine region is the area around Montefalco, which includes the Sagrantino grape. The area around Orvieto with the Orvieto Classico is also well known.
Since 1987, the magazine Gambero Rosso has published a world-renowned wine guide, Vini d'Italia. Only wines that perform above average are included in this guide. Independent experts determine by blind tasting classified wines whether they deserve one, two or three glasses. A wine that is appreciated with one glass in the guide is a good wine. The wines that are labeled with two glasses are very good wines and two red glasses mean that they deserve to compete for three glasses but just fell short of quality. Ultimately, only the exceptionally good wines deserve the label three glasses. 14 Wines from Umbria are classified with three glasses in this guide:
- Adarmando Trebbiano Spoletino 2017 - Giampaolo Tabarrini
- Cervaro della Sala 2017 - Castello della Sala
- Il Roccafiore 2016 - Roccafiore
- Montefalco Rosso Mattone Ris. 2016 - Briziarelli
- Montefalco Rosso Pomontino 2017 - Tenuta Bellafonte
- Montefalco Rosso Ris. 2015 - Antonelli San Marco
- Montefalco Rosso Ziggurat 2017 - Tenute Lunelli Castelbuono
- Montefalco Sagrantino 2015 - Terre de la Custodia
- Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni 2015 - Arnaldo Caprai
- Montefalco Sagrantino Sacrantino 2015 - F.lli Pardi
- Orvieto Cl. Sup. Luigi e Giovanna 2016 - Barberani
- Ramìci Ciliegiolo 2016 - Leonardo Bussoletti
- Torgiano Rosso Pinturicchio Ris. 2016 - Terre Margaritelli
- Torgiano Rosso Rubesco V. Monticchio Ris. 2015 - Lungarotti
In short, the wide choice of quality wines in Umbria is a very good reason to book a holiday in Umbria. And our experience shows that even the regular wine produced in Umbria is always tasty and affordable. Bring a Grecchetto or a Sangiovese and you're always in the right place.