Known as il cuore verde dell'Italia (Italy's green heart), Umbria has some of the country's most pristine rural landscapes. The province is sandwiched between Tuscany to the east and Le Marche to the west. The regional capital of Perugia, with its cultured ambience and world-class summer jazz festival, lies roughly in the center of the province. To the west is beautiful Lake Trasimeno, Italy's biggest lake; north is the medieval walled city of Gubbio; and to the east is St. Francis's town, Assisi. South of the capital are miles of olive groves, along with the lovely towns of Spello and Montefalco. Even further south are the arty hub of Spoleto (home to the annual Spoleto Festival) and the so-called "ideal city" of Todi. At the southwestern corner of the province, Orvieto, with its stunning Duomo, is one of the region's must-sees. For details on all of these towns, visit our See+Do section.
WHEN TO GO
The months from May to October are the best for visiting Umbria. May through mid-June and mid-September to mid-October are sunny without being sweltering. Still, even during July and August, when temperatures can get up to 90ºF, mountain breezes from the nearby Apennines keep things comfortable. The months of November and March tend to be rainy. Many country hotelslike those in the towns of Assisi and Calzolaroare closed during the winter.
HOW TO GET THERE
The only commercial airport in Umbria is tiny Perugia Sant'Egidio (39-075-592-141; www.airport.umbria.it). It has direct flights from London (on low-cost carrier Ryanair), Albania, Sardinia, andmost helpfullyMilan's Malpensa, which has two flights daily and is the best place to connect from the States. If you fly into Rome, it's a about two-hour drive to Orvieto, three hours to Perugia or Assisi.
Perugia airport has Avis, Europcar, Hertz, and Maggiore car rental offices; there are also taxis and an infrequent bus into Perugia's town center. Two major Trenitalia rail lines bisect the region. The main Rome-Florence line runs through Orvieto and Chiusi (the best jumping-off point for the Lake Trasimeno region). The Rome-Ancona line serves Spoleto and Foligno, where a western branch heads to Assisi and Perugia (www.trenitalia.com). A private railway, Ferrovia Centrale Umbra, connects Perugia with Umbertide and Città di Castello to the north, and Deruta and Todi to the south (39-075-575-401; www.fcu.it, Italian only). The main regional bus company is APM, based in Perugia (39-075-506-781; www.apmperugia.it). But in rural areas, transportation services are few and far between, so a car is pretty much essential.
The official Umbrian tourist information Web site, run by the Regione Umbria, is www.umbria2000.it (only a few pages are available in English). See individual towns in the See & Do section for details about local tourist offices.
Italian Tourism Board
630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1565
New York, NY 10111
Tel: 212 245 5618
Fax: 212 586 9249