“The Green Heart of Italy”
Giosuè Carducci had called “Green Umbria” and today describe it as “the green heart of Italy”.
And indeed, the Umbria seems one of the masterpieces created by the brush of Pinturicchio or Perugino (both born in Perugia in 1400): throughout the region there are landscapes and unique natural, as the sources of the Lithuanian, the waterfall Marmore a few miles from Terni, or the beautiful Lake Trasimeno, which has managed to surprise even Goethe, Stendhal and Byron for its beauty.
The green hills are dotted with villages of ancient origins and mysterious charm. It is impossible to say which is the most beautiful town in Umbria, if Gubbio, Todi, Assisi, Foligno or Città di Castello. And the traces of its important past, that Umbria lovingly guards, also thanks to the many events and historical re-enactments of past ages linked to religious traditions: these appointments with folklore are deeply felt by the population which highlights its local diversity.
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Perugia. This city is perfect a set of shapes, colors, monuments now opening the way to the street. Its historic center is located on a hill in the woods and you can still admire the ancient walls that defended in the past. Its doors, the ups and downs and the buildings (among them the Palazzo dei Priori) furnish Perugia like an open air museum. While many college students, including foreigners, cultural festivals and events jazz will make you appreciate the internationality of this city, which looks to new retaining its millennial spirit. The Fontana Maggiore (also called Fountain Square) is the symbol of Perugia and is a really unique exemplary. Turn to Perugia is an incredible experience, and it is easy to do thanks to the systems of underground escalators, elevators and minimetrò connecting the Rocca Paolina Piazza Italy, in the heart of the medieval city. Through its squares seating patterns of narrow, winding streets, houses huddled together or connected by arches, sometimes you can relive the dream of the Grand Tour. A thorough tour of the ancient city could start from the main doors, then pointing to the center, from different ancient districts: Port Eburnea (or Arch of Almond, of Etruscan foundation, in Piazza Mariotti), Porta Santa Susanna (or St. Andrew, the late medieval era, in the Bride), Porta Sole (Etruscan ), Porta San Pietro and Porta Sant’Angelo, in Corso Garibaldi. The emotion and the visual impact you have more immediate starting the visit from the central Piazza IV Novembre, living in the city and place much loved by the people. but a visit to Perugia should not matter that ancient aqueduct, the Etruscan well and museums that tell the story of this beautiful city and the region (National Archaeological Museum and National Gallery of Umbria)
As a kind of navel from which everything passes sooner or later, Umbria has always been to Italy meeting place of cultures and histories that through the centuries have shaped the identity of the territory. Travel in Umbria means going to find the past where its traces are more obvious. After the unification of Italy there was talk of “green Umbria and holy”, during Fascism of Umbria “warrior”, most recently as Umbria “green heart of Italy”. In all these definitions there is some truth, but put together they fail to encompass the variety of what only the custom allows to know in depth. From City of Castle in Terni, from Lake Trasimeno (the fourth largest lake in Italy) in Norcia, Umbria enchants for its scenery, but also the fragility of a system in constant conflict with industrialization and inharmonies of progress. Set between Tuscany, Lazio and Marche (and crossed by the river Tiber to 210 km of the total 405) is the only region of central and southern Italy that does not overlook the sea. It has many protected areas; those surrounding the Tevere (Tiber River Park), the Park of Lake Trasimeno (the largest in the region), the National Park of Monti Sibillini, the Monte Cucco Park and the Mount Subasio Park. But to attract Umbria, in addition to a wonderful nature, is also the folklore (particularly valued in this region), the reservoir of knowledge linked to ancient traditions. This explains why festivals, fairs and traditional festivals have in Umbria importance elsewhere unknown.
One would say that the soundtrack of Umbria has become a jazz melody: there are many festivals of its kind held in the region, starting from the world famous Umbria Jazz, held in Perugia in July with his twin winter Synthesis Jazz. In autumn there is the Terni in Jazz, an event with concerts and seminars on jazz, while at Orvieto from December to January held the Umbria Jazz Winter. A fragrant and colorful event is the Tulip Festival: held annually in Castiglione del Lago in early April and includes a parade of floats, a parade and the real prize of the tulip. The event began in 1956 when some families of Dutch bulbs planted around the lake and invited citizens to celebrate spring decorating houses and windows with early tulips (still too short to be sold). Since 1958, the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto collects a wide audience and lots of drama, opera, dance, art and film. The greediest can not miss appointments of October: Eurochocolate in Perugia and Altrocioccolato organized in Gubbio. And there’s more, Umbria also celebrates the world of cinema: Batik Film Festivalsi held in Perugia and hosts filmmakers from different countries of the world, the Umbria Film Festival is the icon of European auteur films that held in Montone in the upper valley of the Tiber between Perugia and Città di Castello and finally the Ways of Cinema is dedicated to cinema restored which takes place every year in the frame of the Public Park of Narni Scalo.
By Plane. The only airport of Umbria is Perugia, Sant’Egidio, which is about 12 km from the city center. To reach the city center from the airport of Sant’Egidio may serve taxi or public transport, such as buses of ACAP with stops in Piazza Italy and at the railway station
By Train. Starting from Milan Central, you have to change at Florence Santa Maria Novella or Arezzo and, from here, take a regional fast to Perugia. Another possible solution is to reach Terontola-Cortona from Florence with a regional (an hour and a half away) and, subsequently, Perugia with another regional (about 40 minutes). Leaving Rome, you get to Perugia with Eurostar every day connect the two cities in two hours and a half away. Wishing there are also regional trains, with change in Foligno, which takes about three hours. To reach Terni from Milan Central must first reach Rome Termini and, from here, change to a regional fast (arrive at your destination in just over an hour). From Rome the journey is direct and lasts about an hour, with both regional, both with the Eurostar.
By Car. Milan-Perugia, in the car, that is 450 km away and four hours of travel, traffic permitting. The road is very simple, you have to take the A1 and exit at Valdichiana and, after the freeway SS327, follow the freeway Bettolle-Perugia. To get to Terni from Milan (5 hours travel) to the Bettolle-Perugia have to take the E45 Perugia-Terni. From the South (Rome or Naples) is always better to choose the A1 motorway (exit Orte) and continue on the SS204 and the E45 from Terni to Perugia. To get to Terni just rather take the Orte-Terni. From Rome to Terni the trip takes 1 hour and 20 approximately.
By Bus. With the Bus Baltour you can reach Perugia from Milan (or station Rogoredo or Lampugnano), the journey involves a change in Civitanova Marche. More convenient is Sulga line, which connects directly with Perugia Milan or Rome. From Milan no buses to Terni, while the line from Rome Spoletina performs taken twice a day and the Tiburtina Station to Terminal ternano bus takes about an hour and a half.
When it appears in the distance Orvieto, seem to see the natural continuation of the hill on which it stands. Perfectly in harmony with nature, in Orvieto is the essence of Umbria: ancient monuments, testimony of three thousand years of history,genuine taverns and historic workshops. An example? Go see the Duomo, with its ornate facade and the Chapel of San Brizio inside, all, or the People’s Palace, the symbol excellence of the civil architectonic of Orvieto, and there will immediately see. The city center, is a succession of treasures. At the end of one of the city’s main streets (Corso Cavour) it turns out the well of St. Patrick: 53 meters deep with helical ramps one way in which you can go down as one time were the mules. Not far from Perugia, Assisi rises, the religious center for excellence in Umbria, and beyond. Here lived St. Francis (patron saint of Italy) and Santa Chiara and even today most of those who reach Assisi does it for religious reasons and devotion. The old part is spread on the hill, where stands the beautiful Basilica of San Francesco with its frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue. It was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1997, but today it is perfectly restored. At the foot of the hill is the imposing Santa Maria degli Angeli, which encloses inside still integrates the Portiuncula, a small church, where St. Francis died. Gubbio is called the “gray city” because of the limestone blocks of its buildings: it is a very old town, linked to the legends and the life of St. Francis, still retains its medieval character. Elegant and austere, Todi is one of the most beautiful towns to visit: located on a hill in the valley of the Tiber and its streets you can admire palaces and churches of every age. Do not forget to enjoy a few glasses of wine in wine shops and inns towns, here the wine tradition is a trademark. Todi is instead known for being the birthplace of Jacopone De Benedetti (called precisely Jacopone). A town often forgotten but well worth a visit is Spello, where traces medieval art and architecture (like the walls) coexist perfectly with those of the Roman Empire (Amphitheater and theater). How Spello, Spoleto as well: even on the streets of this city you can see monuments from the Roman and medieval including the Theatre, the Arch of Drusus and the Chapel Eroli, where there are frescoes by Pinturicchio. The most famous cultural event of Spoleto, the “Festival of Two Worlds.” Not far from Terni, finally, the famous Cascade Falls, founded in 271 BC by the Romans to drain the stagnant waters of the Velino in the Black River. Measuring 165 meters and is one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.
TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE
The Feast of the waters in Piediluco (Terni) in June celebrates the summer solstice and, for centuries, are organized for the occasion, parades, games and rituals of fire on the water, with a parade of illuminated boats. Recently while there are also fireworks, theater performances and concerts. In Umbria, thanks to events and historical reconstructions, you can take a step back in time whenever you wish. Do not miss the Palio of the Terzieri, in Città della Pieve, every Sunday after August 15, with races archery, historical parades with costumed medieval theater street. In the center are reconstructed shops fourteenth century the country, while jugglers and acrobats entertain visitors. Even in Gubbio takes place a stake center, one of the Crossbow: the last Sunday of May for hundreds of years in the Piazza della Signoria, the competition takes place with the ancient medieval crossbow station. Can not miss the parade and festivities with torches through the streets. Assisi also has its Palio di San Rufino, the last Sunday of August, during which races organized a crossbow. In a small village in the mountains in the province of Gubbio, Island Fossara, is held every year a folk festival of ancient origins: according to tradition, the first Sunday in June of the trees that are cut then transported in the center of the country, are united in a single trunk, said “May”. On this occasion there are many folk celebrations with the usual snail festival.
AT THE TABLE
The Umbrian cuisine plays a lot on the meat, sliced meats and produce. The production of salami is the flagship of Umbria, in particular of Norcia, so much so that the term “butcher” indicates who produces or sells sausages. Among the most valuable, is precisely Norcia ham, recognized with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) of the European Union. His production has strict rules: the aging should never be less than 12 months and more than two years, while the weight can not be below the 8.5 kg. The Umbrian appetizer is a plate of cold cuts and cheeses served at the opening of the meal; includes salami, neck, sausage, cheese or goat. Strangozzi are a type of pasta, very similar to the classic noodles, but knead without egg, thicker and short. In Umbria are dressed differently depending on the area: the most popular are with hare sauce or wild boar, or, more refined, with black truffle from Norcia. Much loved also umbrici, rustic wheat semolina spaghetti typical of Castiglione del Lago and Citta di Castello, became common in the region: these are Strozzapreti Todi and Orvieto, bigoli in Gubbio, in the Basque come with bread dough and are called manfricoli. Among the specialties of Umbria, the Cannara onion (red or gold, in braids or mazzocchi) is the main ingredient of cipollata, traditional dish of onions, eggs and tomatoes. Almost gone for the difficult cultivation, tiny, tender and tasty, however, is the fagiolina of Lake Trasimeno. Many sweets, like donuts sweet potatoes, red potatoes prepared with the area of Colfiorito, while March 19 one can not eat the pancakes of St. Joseph. Cocoa, sugar and hazelnuts pepper for pampepato of Terni, while nociata is similar to nougat, but is made with walnuts. Figs Girotti of the city of Amelia, produced since 1830 by the family Girotti, are sweets prepared with dried figs, cocoa, almonds or candied, each pack (blue, green or red) has a different taste. To taste the flavors of tradition, you can do stop in the cellar of Spello, restaurant inspired by the regional tradition for the preparation of its dishes and ingredients . In Orvieto, Trattoria Dell’Orso menu changes every day, but never gives up the quality and traditional recipes.
The umbra ceramic has ancient origins, handed down since the time of the Etruscans. It’s located in Gubbio, renowned for the production of majolica decorated in the city of Umbertide, especially for the application of the black, and Citta di Castello, with heraldic decorations. In addition to the wrought iron and wood, to distinguish Umbrian artisanship there is also that of the tissues, whose practice dates back to the twelfth century. Among the most valuable and ancient, the perugina tablecloth is woven a “bird’s eye”, in white linen with blue bands, but if you go to Perugia you will find the fabric “flame of Perugia”, and in Assisi on “Punto Assisi” point renaissance double cross. On Major Island, which lies between the waters of Lake Trasimeno, admires the Irish lace, hand-crafted prized taught by an Irish teacher and made by embroiderers island with the technique of bobbin .
DID YOU KNOW THAT
… In Umbria is the smallest theater in the world? It’s the theater of the Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio in the province of Perugia: has 99 seats and is the miniature of a Italian Classic theater , with two rows of boxes, the red chairs and decorations. It was inaugurated in 1808 and was built so small to be proportionate to the size of the country.