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Umbria – The Green Heart of Italy

Perugia from our balcony

Perugia from our balcony

Now down to the last three weeks of our adventure, we wanted to see more of Umbria; known as the “Green Heart” of Italy and decided on its capital city of Perugia.
Perugia is Umbria’s largest medieval city.  There are numerous other medieval towns also worth seeing such as  Assisi, Spoleto, Gubbio, Todi, Terni, Spello,  Narni and Orvieto, just to mention a few.  We decided to take in Assisi and Spoleto since we went to Orvieto earlier in our trip.

Perugia is a captivating hilltop Etruscan and Medieval walled city with a labyrinth of medieval streets tucked inside.   This is an energetic University City chock full of historic buildings; people filled piazzas and trendy stores and restaurants.

Bus and Train connections to other areas from Perugia was excellent so it was the perfect city to use as our base while exploring the neighbouring towns.

 

Assisi views

Assisi views

Assisi is a must see if you’re in the area.  An early morning bus gave us lots of time to see the town in order to catch the last bus back to Perugia.  Spread across a steep hillside, Assisi was far larger than we had anticipated.

It’s best known as the birthplace of St. Francis, Italy’s patron saint. Religious pilgrims have come here for centuries to visit the Basilica of San Francesco where St. Francis is buried.  I brought “sticky”; my walking stick, given to me by a very nice gentleman we met while hiking around his home-town of Sarona near Pitigliano.  After a few visits to various pilgrimage sites, I plan to leave “sticky”  for the next pilgrim to use on their walk to Rome.

There’s a lot to see in Assisi.   You’ll enjoy strolling the medieval streets and alleyways; they are exceptional!

Enjoy a cup of coffee or a gelato while people watching in the many piazzas tucked away in quiet corners.  Take time to sample the delicious local foods at the delis. Then buy a picnic and take a hike to the top of Rocca Maggiore to see some of the most spectacular views over Assisi and the expansive Umbrian valley below.

 

Spoleto

Spoleto’s Bridge of Towers

Spoleto is an alluring walled medieval hill town first inhabited by the Umbri tribes who built the city on the slopes of a sacred mountain here in the Apennines of Umbria.
The Grand Rocca Albomoziana Fortress (1359-1370) overlooks the historic town.  To one side is the Ponte delle Torri (Bridge of Towers) about 236 metres wide – 90 metres high and spans the deep gorge below.

For the hikers, there are a number of excellent hikes in the area including access toward the popular Via Francigena  Italian pilgrimage route which begins in Gran San Bernadino and ends in Rome.

We loved the small and less touristy Umbrian towns.  We’d definitely go back to Perugia and use it as our base to see the other medieval towns we missed.

Our next stop is the Tuscan town of Siena which we’ll be using as our base while we explore the Chianti Region from Monteriggioni to Siena and San Gimignano to Certaldo as well as Montepulciano to do some wine tasting.                                                          HOME

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