Travel Tip: By car through the Umbria Town Hills

Impressions from Umbria

A tour arround the medieval hill towns of Umbria makes for the most pleasent of jouneys. Pottering along the small back roads, amids spreading chesnut treesand luxuriant elmson the hillsides, through valleys and beside clear sparkling streams, you are in a landscape captured by many a master painter. The popularity of nearby Tuscany has allowed Umbria to remain relatively unscathed, although Assisi and Oriveto have always drawn crowds.

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Perugia is both beautiful and lively – home to the University for Foreigners and topped by the 16th century Rocca Paolina, Italy’s largest fortress; the July Jazz Festival is colourful and exciting, thousands of people speaking hundreds of languages throng the streets and piazzas, enjoying free concerts late into the night.

Assisi, reconstructed after the shocking earthquake of 1997, Is crowded with pilgrims coming to visit the Basilica of St Francis. He was bom here in 1181. From the magical castle of Rocco Maggiore look out across the glorious Tiber Valley, which so inspired him. There are treasures to be found everywhere – countryside and town alike: Spello’s ancient walls date back 2,000 years, and its 13th century church is illuminated with Pinturicchio’s fabulous frescoes. The town itself is peaceful and traffic-free. Tiny Bevagna, for once not a hill town, has Roman remains, lovely churches and a marvellous 19th century theatre.

The road from Todi to Orvieto is particularly scenic, including views of Lake Corbara; Orvieto itself is visible from miles away, its world famous Duomo silhouetted against the deep blue Umbrian ski’ The pedestrianized ancient city centre Is reached either by funicultf railway, or via escalators hewn into the soft, tufa stone cliff. The Piazza del Duomo and the cathedral itself are magnificent, and Orvieto also has an extraordinary labyrinth of underground passage beneath it, begun by the Etruscans and continued during the Middle Ages.

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Best highlights in Umbria

Todi, with its ancient city walls. Civita, an artist’s paradise, built on a pineacle and attached to the wider world by a narrow bridge. Collevalenza with its unique sanctuary, built in 1965. The Church of Santa Maria delli Angelli, outside Assisi which hosting another tiny church which was the first Francescan Friary.

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