madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking

Visit Umbria

Classic Umbrian day trips: scenic drives, crafts, wine tasting and authentic family restaurants

our home and B&B Alla Madonna del piatto in the beautiful Umbrian countryside

our home and B&B Alla Madonna del piatto in the beautiful Umbrian countryside

Umbria is a small region, you can visit most of its marvelous hill-towns during a day trip from one central location in the region.
You will need a 4-5 days visit to see  the highlights, but there is enough to do for more than a week. The itineraries presented here have Assisi as a starting point and can be done by car in one day at a slow pace. From here, Orvieto and Norcia are the furthest away attractions in the region, about 1 and 1/2 hr. drive (100 km/ 62 miles). All the rest is within 30-50 min drive.

Day 1 –  Assisi
Day 2 –  Gubbio and Perugia
Day 3 –  Museums in Perugia
Day 4 –  Valnerina and Spoleto
Day 5 –  small villages: Bevagna, Montefalco, Foligno
Day 6 –  more small villages: Spello, Trevi, Castello di Campello
Day 7 –  Deruta and Torgiano
Day 8 –  Visso, Piano Grande di Casteluccio and Norcia
Day 9 –  Orvieto and  Todi
Day 10 – Trasimeno Lake round trip: Castiglione del Lago, Panicale Passignano

Even if using a GPS, make sure to have a 1:200 000 map of Umbria, available free at every tourist office. Some GPS get completely lost in the countryside and so will you! Do worry too much about road numbers. They are present on the maps but they will generally not be indicated on the roads. Just follow the signs to the town/village you are going to and,  to avoid mistakes,  learn  a couple of  names of places that are in the opposite direction.

I will not go into the details for touring each location because this is well covered in any good guidebook. However, I have included updated parking information for the larger towns. Parking lots of historic towns are often located outside the city walls. If you enter the gates you will be faced  with some difficult driving through the narrow lanes. In addition, parking inside the city walls is often forbidden or reserved to residents.

The little heart sign indicates restaurants or shops we particularly like for ambiance and quality

Day 1 - Assisi

Medieval Assisi perched on the slopes of the Subasio Mountain

Itinerary

To reach Assisi from other locations, take highway E75 and exit at  Santa Maria degli Angeli Nord. You will encounter a series of roundabouts most of which are numbered. At roundabout nr. 2 follow Santa Maria degli Angeli, a small village at the foothill of Assisi. Here is where you will arrive if you come by train. Once in Santa Maria degli Angeli drive along the huge church with a golden statue on the top of the facade. Drive straight on, initially along the church, then pass the railway and continue without taking any turn until roundabout nr.5 (approx. 3.5 km from the Church). Turn right uphill and park at Porta Nuova.

The Basilica of Saint Francis with the magnificent Giotto’s frescoes is the main but not the only reason to visit our town. Stroll through the narrow medieval alleys to the the Basilica of Saint Claire,  Piazza del Comune, romanesque San Rufino, the Rocca maggiore fortress. If the weather is nice drive to Eremo delle carceri on the Subasio Mountain and back downhill to the Porziuncola chapel inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Food

In Assisi:

  • Trattoria degli Umbri. Andrea and Roberta do their best to welcome you in their recently renovated restaurants like at their own home. Piazza del comune 40, closed Thu. Tel 075 812455

In Santa Maria degli Angeli:

  • Ristorante Basilica, reliable family business well known among locals, delicious fried appetizer, pizza available for dinner. Via Protomartiri Francescani 11, opposite the apse of church, closed Tue. Tel. 0758044491,.
  • Terra Umbra, the best gourmet shop for all Umbrian foods. Offers olive oil tasting, chocolate, cheese, cured meats, truffles. Pick up your picnic stuff here. Via Patrono d’Italia 10.
  • For a a truly local experience of simple country food head to Agriturismo La bella Treccia, Vocabolo Salvetta 44 in Cannara, tel: 074272475, open only week ends upon reservation.

Nearby:

Wine tasting

  • The Sportoletti winery offers lovely reds, a basic Assisi Rosso and their famous Villa Fidelia.  It’s on the way from Assisi to Spello through the hamlets of Viole and Capitan Loreto Mon-Sat. 8:00-13:00 14:30-17:30

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Day 2 – Gubbio and Perugia

Gubbio

If you are in the Assisi area and feel for a scenic route, drive from S.M. degli angeli towards Assisi or from Assisi towards Perugia until roundabout nr.5.

At the roundabout follow direction Perugia (SS 147), pass the Ponte San Vittorino (a bridge close to a bus and camper parking lot) and turn immediately to the right in Via San Fortunato. Do not take sharp right along the parking lot, but take the Via San Fortunato that goes uphill (other signs are for Pieve San Nicolo’, Paganzano, San Fortunato). Follow this road until Valfabbrica. Make sure not to take any turns into unpaved roads. Once in Valfabbrica turn right onto the main road. Follow signs for Gubbio via Branca and Padule. Once you have reached Gubbio, park at Piazza 40 Martiri, just below the old centre. Free parking is available in the area of the Roman amphiteather

Itinerary

At Piazza Grande, enter the Museo Civico within the Palazzo dei Consoli. Enjoy its labyrinthine medieval rooms and the great views from the upper loggia. Walk to the Duomo and after the visit, enter the tunnel that is across the entrance of the church, just a few steps below to your left. You will find a small cafe’ overlooking  the beautiful old town. After lunch, go to porta Romana and take the funicular to Monte Ingino for more views, it’s a thrilling 5 min. ride. Back from the mountain ride, visit the microscopic museum of the Ceramica a lustro (Luster-ware pottery) in the tower of Porta Romana, above the tobacco shop. Return to the Fontana del Bargello (the Fountain of the Mad) and then turn left along the river in Via Camignano which is the most picturesque way back to the parking area.

Food

  • Locanda del Cantiniere. This is the raising star of Gubbio’s restaurants. Francesco has abandoned the crazy life in Rome to manage this pretty place. The restaurant is immaculately appointed, the service is friendly and the food is lovely, well presented and reasonably priced. Via Dante 30 Tel 0759275999
  • Taverna del Lupo is an expensive restaurant but the excellent traditional fare on offer deserves the extra effort. They have a few moderately priced fixed menus that give you the opportunity to sample the local cuisine at its best. Via Ansidei 21. Closed Mon. in winter. Tel. 0759274368.

the splendid Piazza IV Novembre in Perugia

Perugia

Directions and parking

The road from Gubbio to Perugia, SS 298 -well signposted from the centre of Gubbio-  is one of the most scenic of the region. When you reach Bosco take E45 and then E 75 to Perugia. Bypass industrial Ponte San Giovanni and exit at Perugia-Prepo. After this exit turn left at the first traffic light and then right, steep uphill, at the second traffic light, Via Fonti Coperte. This is a one way road that ends into Via XX Settembre. Keep going uphill until you see on your left a large blue sign indicating the underground parking lot at Piazza Partigiani. If you end up at a roundabout with a statue of Garibaldi in the centre of it, you have missed the entrance to the parking area. Keep turning left until you find another entrance of it. From the cashier area of the  parking lot take the escalator which takes you to the old city centre.

If you go to Perugia and plan to come back before 21:00 it’s much easier to park near the minimetro station. To find the station, drive on E75 and exit at Madonna Alta. Turn right and follow direction “stadio” (soccer stadium). Go straight for approx one Km after which you will see the stadium on your left and the entrance of a free parking area on you right. The parking is marked by a red and white bar preventing the entrance of high trucks.  This parking is used for a major market  on Saturday mornings when it is difficult to find place. The minimetro station is the red building. Take the minimetro until the last stop (Pincetto)

Itinerary
From the escalators or the minimetro station walk to Corso Vannucci and Piazza IV Novembre, one of the most beautiful medieval piazzas of Italy. The piazza is dominated by Palazzo dei Priori hosting the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, a medieval painting museum. Even if you do not have the time to see the museum, make sure to visit the frescoed Collegio del Cambio e della Mercanzia and Sala dei Notari, all accessible from outside the Palazzo. Walk towards the back of the Duomo, visit the delightful Palazzo Sorbello ♥  in Piazza Piccinino, then the Etruscan well (Piazza Danti nr. 18) and continue on  through via delle Prome. Enjoy the views atop and walk down by the wonderful zig-zagging stairs until the 2200 years old Etruscan Gate, one of the few remnants of Etruscan civil architecture. If time allows, from this area and by Via Fabbretti you could visit the ♥ Giuditta Brozzetti textile workshop in the Church of San Francesco delle Donne  (difficult to find, call in advance 07540236).
Return through via C. Battisti along the Etruscan walls for views of the old town and of the XV century aqueduct which is now a picturesque raised walkway and arrive back to Piazza IV Novembre by Via Maesta’ delle Volte.

For more information on Collegio del Cambio visit a Journey of a Thousand miles

Food

  • You can have a  simple meal at Il Gufo in Via della Viola 18, modern cuisine, closed Sun. and Mon., lunch only Sat. – Sun. Tel. 0755734126 or even simpler but very local Dalla Bianca, Via Piantarose, Tel. 075 572 5588, closed Sat.

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Day 3 – Museums in Perugia

Romanesque decoration of the portal of Plazzo dei Priori in Perugia

Romanesque decoration of the portal of Plazzo dei Priori in Perugia

Visit the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, for an extraordinary collection of medieval and renaissance Umbrian and (some) Tuscan painters, including Perugino, Fra’ Angelico, Piero della Francesca e Arnolfo di Cambio. If you like portraits of the Virgin Mary, this is your day. After the museum, walk by Piazza Matteotti, Via San’Ercolano, Corso Cavour. Here you will find the huge Church of San Domenico which houses the Museo Archeologico dell’Umbria with an extensive Etruscan collection. Continue by Borgo XX Giugno to gothic San Pietro and the panoramic Medieval garden.

Food

  • Da Nana’ in Corso Cavour 202. Beyond the non descript dark entrance you find a delightful airy, tall room and kind service. They also offer quick lunches in the attached coffee shop. Closed Sun. and lunch time, Tel. 075 5733571

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Day 4 - Valnerina and Spoleto

the Ponte delle Torri in Spoleto, a massive aqueduct built in the XVI century

Valnerina

Take SS75 direction Spoleto and exit at Cascia. After the long tunnel follow signs for Scheggino and San Pietro in Valle. After Scheggino do not take the first turn for San Pietro in Valle. Instead turn further on at sign “S.Petro in Valle Relais”. Visit the Abbey, founded in the 4th century, for its magnificent archaic frescoes. Ask the guardian  to see the cloister and the garden which are part of the Hotel. The scenic road trough Montefranco brings you back to Spoleto.
In  Spoleto follow signs for the Spoleto Sfera parking lot, near the Api gas station. If coming from North, e.g. from Perugia or Assisi, take the second exit for Spoleto, immediately after the tunnel.

Spoleto

Spoleto is undergoing significant restoration, but most of the beautiful sites are accessible and worth visiting: Piazza del Mercato, Piazza della Liberta’, Piazza del Duomo, Romanesque Sant’Eufemia, the spectacular Ponte delle Torri.

Food

  • In Valnerina, Ristorante del Ponte Scatolini in Scheggino is specialized in truffle dishes and trout , closed Mon., Tel. 0743 61253
  • In Spoleto, have lunch at Osteria del Matto in piazza del Mercato.  The name of the restaurant translates as “The Hostelry of the Madman”. Sometimes the Madman is in a bad mood. If he is not you’ll have a great meal. Closed Tue., Tel. 0743225506
  • Il Tempio del gusto Via Arco di Druso (near piazza del Mercato) is a pleasant alternative for those who like contemporary cuisine at reasonable prices. Closed Thu., Tel 0743/47121, Cell 33939288
  • Bar Ristorante Canasta. Piazza della Libertà 14. Simple place with authentic home food. Take the carbonara or amatriciana or some of their light and crispy fried foods. All is good and the prices are honest.Clo sed Wed.
    Tel. 074340205

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Day 5 - small villages: Bevagna, Montefalco, Foligno

charming little alleys in Bevagna

Food

  • Antiche Sere. A simple place, overlooking a dreamy piazza, offers inexpensive home food. Piazza Garibaldi 10, Tel 0742 361 938 or Cell 3384359575
  • Osteria Il Podesta’. Traditional trattoria with the best tagliata (seared sliced steak) of the province and nice desserts. Corso Matteotti 67, Tel. 0742 361832

Montefalco

It’s tiny but has a splendid little piazza, and even more splendid frescos of Benozzo Gozzoli in the church of San Francesco, which is part of the museum.  After the frescoes walk downhill to the viewpoint outside the town walls. This is a particularly inspiring at sunset.

Wine tasting

  • The Antonelli winery offers tasting of  Sagrantino, Grechetto, Grappa, Passito. It is located in San Marco di Montefalco, at Km 15 of the road between Bevagna and Massa Martana. Mon-Sat 8:30-12:30 14:30-18:30

Foligno

Foligno is not really a small village, but  a lively economic hub in the region sorrounded by a busy commercial area. The historic part, centred around Piazza della Repubblica is nice for a stroll and for the excellent eateries and cafes’, like Caffe Barbanera. It’s not easy to figure out where to park. Two parking areas are available near the old hospital (Ospedale Vecchio). If you can’t find them, just follow signs for centre. Once you cross the river into the old town, just park in any area marked by blue stripes and walk to the piazza, it’s not far. Do not forget to put a few coins in the parking meters!

Food

  • Osteria del Teatro. This is a quiet place for seriously delicious food. If I go to heaven the first thing I will ask is Pierino’s magical chocolate suffle. Ask him to see the 500-years-old round cellar, it’s as amazing as the food. I will tell no more, you just need to try. Via Petrucci, 8 Tel 3473401778 Closed Sun. dinner and Mon. lunch

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Day 6 - more small villages: Spello, Trevi, Castello di Campello

some of the original architecture in the Castello di Campello alto

Spello

The view of the village from the road is stunning.  The main road and piazza are not particularly attractive, but the steep back streets and the splendid frescoes of Pintoricchio in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore make it worth a stop.

Food

  • Ristorante Il Molino. An elegant restaurant deservedly featured on several guidebooks for its excellent service and classic cuisine. Closed Tue., Tel 07426530541

Trevi

An other tiny village with a dramatic setting on the mountain and an interesting, if small, Flash Art museum with contemporary works of local and international artists

Food

  • Casa Antonini, beautiful setting up in the hills near the small hamlet of Parrano, delicious home-style food. It’s difficult to find, get to Parrano from Trevi  and ask locally. Open Wed. to Sun. dinner and Thur. to Sun. lunch. Via Fonte Pigge, 6, Parrano di Trevi. Tel 0742620935, book a place on the terrace.

Castello di Campello alto

To find this  recently restored hamlet, drive to Campello sul Clitunno and then follow signs for Pettino, turn left when you see a fortified hamlet, the Castello. It is a timeless place with sweeping views over the Umbrian valley and endless olive groves.

Food

  • ♥ Ristorante Le Casaline it’s near Campello sul Clitunno, on the way to Pettino, between the turn for Poreta and the turn for the Castello di Campello alto. They have a large sign on the right when you go uphill to the Castello. Take the “antipasto della casa” which includes delicious cured goose meat, it is so large and varied that it is a meal in itself. Tel. 0743521113

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Day 7 – Deruta and Torgiano

Extraordinary Renaissance pattern on a Deruta plate

Itinerary

Drive on E75 initially direction Perugia-Florence, then Rome. Exit at Torgiano one of the major wine centers of Umbria.

Visit the Museum of wine and oil for an outstanding display of the history of oenology, wine and olive growing since antiquity.

Proceed to Deruta, 10 min South of Torgiano, which is since centuries one of the most important centers of production of ceramics in Europe. The village has an old town uphill, where the only point of interest is the regional Ceramic Museum. On the Via Tiberina, which runs parallel to the highway, you will find more than 100 workshops producing pottery and other ceramics artifacts of every form, size and price.

Our favorite artists are ♥ Ubaldo Grazia and ♥ Franco Mari. To find Franco Mari, exit the highway at Deruta Zona Industriale and follow signs for Centre. Turn left at the traffic light. Franco Mari’s shop is at nr. 152 on the right inside. His pieces are characterized by dark backgrounds, bold colors and intricate Renaissance patterns like in the picture above. Ubaldo Grazia’s family is in the ceramic business since 1500. You can visit the factory museum and see the painters at work. This workshop produces for royalties and movie stars and for all the well know luxury shops worldwide. Prices are high but still a fraction of what you can find abroad and the quality and variety is stunning. Across Grazia’s shop, visit the lovely Rolando and Goffredo Nulli who will let you throw your on piece on the wheel.

All ceramic artisans ship reliably all over the world. Make sure however to take detailed pictures of what you order and beware if the fact that delivery times are often optimistic. Delays of weeks and months are not unheard of. In addition, even if you are given an e-mail address, please note that not all artisans are computer savvy. Should your stuff not arrive when expected, the best thing is to call the cell phone of the person that took your order, that’s still the best way to get something done in  Italy!

Food

  • In Deruta, Locanda del Bracconiere is located on the way to the old town. Good value fixed menu with great appetizer buffet. Highly popular with local business man.Via Borgo Garibaldi 8, closed Monday.
  • Near the village’s main square you also find Taverna del Gusto, good, traditional food and super friendly service. Via Mastro Giorgio, 5 tel: 075 9724120, closed Wednesday

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Day 8 - Visso, Piano Grande di Castelluccio and Norcia

a sea of emerald green on the Sibillini Mountains

Itinerary

This is definitely the most spectacular drive in the region. Take E75 direction Foligno and then n.77 direction Colfiorito. This is a natural reserve, an upland plain of undulated landscape surrounded by mountain peaks. After Muccia take 209 to Visso a pretty village named the “pearl” of the Sibillini Mountains and seat of the national park. The piazza is lined with elegant 15th- and 16th-century buildings and distinguished by two pre-eminent edifices: the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria and the Church of Sant’Agostino.  The Collegiate church’s original structure, in Gothic-Romanesque style, dates back to the 12th century.

From Visso, Via Castelsantangelo drive to the Piano Grande di Castelluccio, a wildly beautiful meadow surrounded by the bare green Sibillini. Continue on to medieval Norcia well known for the extravagantly decorated cured pork and wild-bore shops.  To go back follow signs for Spoleto which will lead you to E75.

Food

  • You definitely need to stop for lunch in Visso at Trattoria da Richetta in Piazza Garibaldi 7. This simple family run restaurant offers the freshest river trout from the nearby river. Make sure to reserve in advance as soon as you arrive in Visso, this restaurant is popular with the locals and always full.  Tel 0737 972033, closed Mon.

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Day 9 - Orvieto and Todi

an explosion of colors on the facade of the Duomo of Orvieto

Orvieto

From Assisi, drive on E75 initially direction Perugia-Florence, then Rome. Exit at Todi-Orvieto. The road to Orvieto is slow and windy, it is preferable not to drive it at night.
In Orvieto park at Parcheggio di Foro Boario, a large underground parking lot located a few hundred meters before the city gate.

From the parking lot in Orvieto, take the elevator which will take you in Via Ripa Medici. Walk atop the impressive city walls to the archaic Church if San Giovenale. Its first restoration dates to the year 1004. Turn east and reach the Piazza del Duomo. After contemplation of the polychrome façade of the Duomo, make sure to see the Luca Signorelli frescoes in the San Brizio chapel. Buy tickets in the tourist office opposite the Duomo where you can also book the “Orvieto Underground tour”.

Should you be keen on quirky architecture, you might like to trek the two 248-step spiral staircases of the Pozzo di San Patrizio.

Food

  • Trattoria dell’Orso.  An atmospheric place offering traditional dishes like truffled pheasant and the most delicious farro soup. Via della Misericordia 18-20.  Tel. 0763 341642 Closed Mon and Tue., January and a couple of weeks in July.

Todi
On your way back from Orvieto stop by Todi, even only to see the magnificent central square. Once in town, follow patiently  the several signs for “Lifts/Ascensori” which will take  you at the parking lot in Viale Montesanto from where you can ascend to the town using the convenient cable car. The little town has a beautiful setting, high up on the hill. Don’t miss the delightful Ab Ovo ♥ , a contemporary art gallery where you will find an extraordinary display of  fine jewellery, sculpture, glass and ceramics.Via del Forno 4, near Via Ciuffelli, Tel. 075 8945526
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Day 10 - Trasimeno Lake round trip: Castiglione del Lago, Panicale, Passignano

The Trasimeno lake is a large laminar lake, not ideal for swimming as it is only 7 mt/21 ft deep. It is pleasant area with mellow views of the surrounding hills and the little islands floating on the peaceful waters.

Itinerary

Take SS 75 Dir. Florence. Exit at Castiglione del Lago and visit the Rocca del Leone, an imposing fortress along the lake shore. Continue South to Panicale, a delightful fortified hamlet. Ask locally if it’s possible to see the Perugino’s fresco in the Church of San Sebastiano, someone has the keys. Continue to Passignano by the Southern side of the lake and via Magione. In Passignano enjoy a gelato along the shore and then take the early afternoon ferry to Isola Maggiore (daily from March to October), a  small island with a tiny fishermen village.

Food

  • Ristorante Miralago offers basic but authentic home style cuisine. In the spring – if you are lucky – you can even get wild asparagus. They do not have a restaurant sign. While driving from  Magione to Passignano, turn left when you see the sign for Montecolognola. The restaurant is on the left where you see a sign of a bar, just past the entrance of the fortified hamlet of Montecolognola. Tel. 075 843150
  • Osteria del Carro. The ambiance is modern-rustic but the service is quick and kind and the food is good and varied. A good option in touristy Passogano. Via della Libertà 6. Closed Tue. in winter. Tel. 075 3748460

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More ideas about what to do during your holidays in Umbria:

  • If you happen to be here during the first week-end of the month, visit the Antiques fair in Arezzo. Here’s a video
  • Visit Urbino in the Marche region, or Siena and Cortona in Southern Tuscany, all within 1 and 1/2 hr drive from here
  • If you need a place to visit on your way to Rome airport, visit Villa D’Este in Tivoli. The gardens are magnificent. You find some pictures here

Not enough? see more pictures  for inspiration or watch this beautiful videos:

55 thoughts on “Visit Umbria

  1. Dear Letizia,

    Your Blog is very usefull! Thanks for the information. You ellaborated a 10 day route to visit the Umbria. I´ll stay there for four days… You mentioned in your post, that 4 days would be just sufficient to get to know the highlights. What do you suggest to a 4-day trip by train?
    Best regards!

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  2. Letizia
    All this information is fabulaous and making my researching a easier job. Thank you and so looking for forward to meeting you for our day of cooking on May 24th.

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  3. Thank you for your excellent guide to the Umbria region. My husband and I will be staying near Pierantonio for a week in July and your info will be very useful. I have made your site one of my ‘favourites’ and look forward to further updates.
    Grazie e ciao
    Margie

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  4. Hi Letizia,

    Thanks so much for the travel information hereon your blog and on slowtrav where I have been soaking up information like a sponge for our June 2011 trip. We wll be staying in Spello for ten nights , and plan to visit many of the places you mention in your travel log. The trip I am most excited about is the the trip to Visso, Piano Grande and Norcia.

    Could that trip be done in the reverse order that you mention? Norica first, then Piano Grande, then Visso, or is it best to be done in the order you mention? We will want to do some shopping in Norcia for sure, so we’d want to time our trip there to make sure the merchants are open!

    Can you make a suggestion for a place to have lunch in Norcia?

    grazie mille,

    bettini

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    • Hi Bettini, nice to see you here! Lunch time in Norcia is not the best for shopping as most shops will be closed between 1:00 and 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. That’s a reason why we like to go to Piano Grande first and get to Norcia half way the afternoon when most shops are open and there is a nice atmosphere, particularly in the summer. Norcia is very small, so one hour is more than enough for a visit.

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      • Thanks Letizia.
        I understand about closing hours during and after lunch.
        I was actually proposing visitng Norcia in the morning hours before lunch, when I asssume the merchants are open, then have lunch in Norcia. After lunch in Norcia, go to Piano Grande, Visso and then back home in the reverse order you suggest. That is why I was asking for a restaurant recommendation for Norcia.

        I do like your suggestion though of being in Norcia in the afternoon.
        Another good point about going in the direction you suggest is that I read somewhere that there are places in Visso where one can pick up information about the Sibillini Park. It might be useful to have that before headng south into the park on our way to Norcia.

        I guess either way, it really doens’t matter, does it? Getting there and experiencing the area is what it is all about after all, yes?

        Many thanks again for answering my quesitons. There may be more as June 19 draws nearer ( and not nearly quickly enough).

        bettini

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  5. Hi Bettini, you are right, whatever direction you take, you will have a wonderful trip particularly at that time of the year. We like the Trattoria in Visso so much that we never make it to Norcia for a meal. Therefore I don’t have a tip for lunch, but I am sure you’ll find good reviews on Tripadvisor and Slowtravel

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  6. Hi Letizia, the info you provided is the best I’ve read. Planning to visit Umbria for 4-5 days after leaving Rome in May. Please advise on our plans to take an early morning train out of Rome to Perugia or Assisi where we will spend a couple nights, rent a car and spend the days visiting Spello and Spoleto. Leave on the third day and drive to Orvieto, then Sienna (another 2 nights) and days visiting San Gimignano and maybe Lucca. Would we have any difficulty returning the rental car in Sienna where we plan to take the train into Florence?

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  7. Letizia
    I’ve always enjoyed your somments on Slow Travel and one of my friends from that forum pointed me here. This certainly got me in the traveling mood. We’ll be in Italy for three weeks in April-May, with one week at Le Case Gialle in the third week of April. We do want to return to Assisi, and Passignano is one of our favorite “relaxing” towns. We also have been to Perugia three times. Other than wanting to go to Urbino and Deruta as well we are open to the rest and don’t want to plan eery second. Any specific tailoring to your ten day itinerary you would suggest?

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    • Hi Tessmar
      lovely to see you here! I have made these itineraries based on what we like and where we take our family when they come to visit. Food is very important for us, so I would definitely recommend a meal at Osteria del Teatro in Foligno and one at Nanà in Perugia. As for places off the beaten path, I am partial to San Pietro in Valle but only if you have a sunny day. In Urbino I have had a lovely meal at “Alimentare” with Giulia whom you must know from ST as well. Enjoy!

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  8. We plan to rent a car and take a 1 day driving tour into the region north of Rome. I would like to experience the local food and wine specialties in the southern Tuscany and Umbria area. Can you suggest a route where we can enjoy the wine, olive oil and other typical cuisine while seeing as much of the countryside as possible?

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    • Hi Karin
      one day is only enough to really see one or two locations. If you come from Rome you will need more than one hour to get to the border with Umbria. My advice is to go to Orvieto for the day and may be Civita di Bagnoregio. It’s more than enough!

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      • Thanks for your reply, do you have any suggestions of a good place to sample olive oils and see how it is produced?

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  9. To see how olive oil is produced you should come in November. The oil mills are closed for the rest of the year.
    I don’t know an olive oil producer in Orvieto as it is a wine area. If you wish to visit a beatiful winery go to Palazzone. If you are interested in olive oil you need to come to Assisi. This is the website of our friends who bottle our own oil which is fantastic. You can buy it from them or from us http://www.oliosanpotente.it/homeeng.htm

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  10. What do the local teenagers like to do for fun in the summer?
    Thank you.

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  11. Hi Letitzia,

    Thrilled to read all your fantastic suggestions. We’ve just booked a couple of weeks in a villa near the Tuscany/Umbria border…near Monte Santa Maria Tiburina. Is that a pretty area, is there anything in particular we should see and even more importantly, is there anywhere you can recommend for us to eat?

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    • Hi Vivian, I have been planning for a while to research that area a bit better. As it is further from Assisi where we live we’ll have to keep it for the winter. I recommend you however to try the Ristorante il Cacciatore in Città di Castello where I have had one of the best creme brulè outside France. We also love the Pizzeria Roma, a simple local joint offering great grilled meat. Do go to see the Busatti textiles in Anghiari, ask them to visit the workshop, it’s noisy but very interesting. Montone is a lovely hamlet. Then if you decide to visit a little further South don’t forget that I do cooking classes which are a great introduction to Umbria cuisine. Enjoy!

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  12. Enjoyed reading your info. About the Umbrian area. My husband and I will be in assisi in Jan.2012….very excited!!

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  13. Letizia, I love that you posted your itineraries here, with all the beautiful photos. Now I can just visit your site and remember with great pleasure the days we spent. Is it possible we left only last week?!!! Surely we must return, and soon.

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  14. Letizia, these are amazing itineraries, we did Orvieto last year (I had trouble finding the Parking Lot though) and would love to do Visso/Piano Grande. Does that make sense in November (we are leaving next week). I also am interested in the Olive Oil reference you made above so I am going to check out the link. We are staying in Capena for one week and want to do off-the-beaten-path things (my husband has a little trouble walking for a long time). THANKS !!!!

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    • thank you KK, I am happy the itineraries are of use. Thank you for your comment about the parking in Orvieto. I realize that it has now changed name to Foro Boario. The Visso/Piano Grande area is always beautiful. However do get accurate information about the weather. You don’t want to get there if there is a chance of snow. Most rental cars are not equipped for driving on snow and they do tend to get snow earlier than the rest of the region because of the higher elevation. If you have a sunny day it’s going to be one of the best experiences of your life. It’s going to be quite a drive from Capena, start really early as you don’t want to be on the small mountain roads in teh night even if it’s nice weather”

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      • Thank you so much, yeah that was my plan if the weather forecast was favorable to leave really early and see how it goes. We are very spontaneous and love exploring the countryside. Thanks again!,

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  15. wondeerful have a great time!

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  16. Pingback: Canadian Food Trends 2013

  17. We can only spend two days in Umbria. We are leaving Venice in the morning by train to Assisi. We have reservations for 2 nights. I figure we will get to Assisi by noon, spending the rest of the day there. We have the whole next day to explore. We leave for Rome the following morning. My question – With one whole day ( I know this is crazy, but that’s all we have) what are the “must sees”. Our priorities are seeing beautiful views, driving through beautiful scenery, visiting the most unique little towns (mostly drive-bys). Not interested in visiting churches, museums and such. I know it goes against the slow traveler attitude, but we can’t help what we ended up with. We had to add a day to our trip and we chose to do it here. We planned on renting a car, but would be open to train travel if you think that would help us see more (would probably prefer to do off the beaten trail) Can you help?.

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    • Hi Kathy
      2 nights is a very short time to se Assisi. Even if you are not interested in museums you must enter the Basilica of Saint Francis as it’s beautoful even to walk inside and around it and there’s beautiful views from the premises. With such little time you might want to stay in Assisi, it will take you the whole day to walk to all the sights. Please find here a link to a self guided tour of Assisi.

      If you happen have time left take the bus to Santa Maria degli Anegli (10 min) and then the train to Spello, a delightful little town at only 10 min from Assisi.

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      • We are staying at a monastery in Assisi and spending one day in Assisi. What I am trying to figure out is ……
        1 – if we only have one day to visit the area surrounding Assisi, which small towns are a must see.
        2 – You mentioned Spello. Would that be your favorite?
        3 – Can we do more than one town in a day? (we have a car)

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  18. Or in other words, which of the days above (in your itinerary) would you say was the best.

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  19. Kathy do you realize that in central Italy you cannot do sightseeing by car? You need to park outside the city walls and walk through the towns to see the sights. This involves often quite a bit of uphill walking. So even though the distances between one and another village look small on a map you will not see anything if you don’t walk a bit around and enjoy the scenery. As I said you have very little time, why rush? If you wish to see more than one village nearby after Spello (very pretty) you could go to Bevagna and Montefalco and do some wine tasting as indicated in the article, I hope this helps!

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  20. Wow, no I didn’t realize. That helps alot. Will have to come back and spend a week in the area next time. Thanks for your help. Will definitely use your suggestions.

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  21. Hi Letizia,
    I love all of the great ideas you have proposed. My family will be in Paciano for a week the end of June. I have four teenagers. I was wondering if you have any ideas of activities or places to see that might specifically be interesting to teens (boys and girls). They love food -eating it and seeing production. They also love the history and cultural aspects of travel more than too many churches. I am trying to find a mix of exploring towns a few days with active pursuits other days. Do you know if there are any festivals during the last week of June that might appeal to this age group?

    Thank you

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    • Hi Lisa, keeping teenagers interested will not be difficult. Go everywhere there is a castle. Castiglion del Lago has a fortress. Assisi has a fortress. Gubbio has a city palace that feels like a castle. Most places are quite cheap to visit, costing 4-5 € a person. In Gubbio you can bring your kids on the funicular, they’ll love it. I can’t think of a festival in June at this very moment, but keep checking this link and you will find out updated informaton of everything that happens in the region. Also, if they like food, I do cooking classes. You can contact me at madonnaDP[at]gmail.com if you wish to know more details. Enjoy your time in Umbria!

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  22. Thank you so much for the suggestions. The two festivals I have heard of that I think might be taking place during our week in Bevagna called Mercato dele gaite (sp?) and one in Arezzo called Giostra del Saracino on June 22nd? Do you know if I have the information/dates correct for these two festivals? Are they even something that would appeal to teenagers?

    Sometimes I read information on-line, but forget exactly where I sourced it!

    Thank you,
    Lisa

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  23. Hi Letizia: I’m enjoying reading all you wonderful information. We are arriving Oct 2 in Rome and then spending 4 nights in Umbria traveling by car before returning to Rome. Although we plan on driving thru and visiting several towns, which 2 towns would you recommend spending the night in? You know better than anyone that spending 3 hours (12-3 PM) in a town is not the same as really enjoying it in the early morning or evening after the busloads of tourists have gone. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, Randy

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    • Hi Randy,
      did you realize that we have a lovely B&B in our old farmhouse up in the hills near Assisi? Please see http://www.madonnadelpiatto.com . Even if you wish to stay in a town, I do recommend only one base for 4 nighst in Umbria. Every change of hotel costs you 1/2 day. Choose a relatively central place and do day trips no further than 1 and 1/2 hour drive. Umbria has so much to offer, see what’s near you and save the rest for your next time. You will be back!

      PS. google maps gives quite accurate driving times which is a great help to plan your itineraries.

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  24. Hi Letizia just come across your excellent blog….I visited Umbria in 2009, had a wonderful holiday, highlights were Spello, Spoleto, Gubbio, the Valnerina, Bevagna, I could go on… I am curious to know whether Castelluccio has remained the same with graffiti covered walls and a rather run down appearance or has it had any renovations recently?

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    • Hi Suej, thank you for visiting! Castelluccio has been like that for as long as I can remember. I don’t think they are ever going to remove the graffiti as they are “inner circle” messages among the locals. Luckily the ran down state of the village does not detract from the amazing experience of seeing the Piano Grande in all its gorgeous beauty, don’t you think?

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      • Thanks for your response! I do agree the Piano Grande is an amazing place…I would love to see it in sunshine, as it was very overcast when I went…one day I hope to return.

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  25. Sujei if you haven’t seen it with the sun it’s almost obligatory to come back :) !

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  26. Hi Letizia just come across your excellent blog….keep it up.
    I only have a day in Perugia – in such a limited time, what do you suggest?

    Grazie mille,
    Steve

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    • thanks for visiting Steve! Perugia is wonderful to walk around and just soak in the atmosphere. In one day you might not make it to visit the museums, but you will certainly have the opportunity to walk through the old town. Don’t miss the walk from Via delle Prome to the Etruscan gate and back up through via Cesare Battisti. Also walk all teh way to San Pietro church and enjoy the views from the medieval garden. If you have extra time see the Collegio del Cambio e Mercanzia, Palazzo Sorbello and or the Glass Studio Moretti Caselli. Enjoy my home-town!

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  27. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your blog on my
    iphone during lunch break. I love the info you present here and can’t wait to
    take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone
    .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, great site!

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  28. Hello, thanks for the useful information. Is Umbria worth visiting in mid November considering the rain? I’m excited to go but I’m afraid if it cloudy and rainy It would not be as pretty and enjoyable as in warmer days. :-/

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    • At the moment we have marvelous sunny weather but you can’t tell how it will be in 2 weeks. I would wait with reservations as you will have no problem finding availability. If the weather is nice then is fabulous to be here in low season. The colors are fantastic and the food is even better!

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