The tiny, land-locked region of Umbria may not be able to boast big hitters such as Florence and Siena, but it more than makes up for it with its intimate hill towns, delicious peasant cuisine, abundant religious and Roman remains, and almost mystical feel. Here are a handful of tips on things to do in Umbria, the green heart of Italy.
Even without the legacy of St. Francis, the medieval town of Assisi, tucked away on the slopes of Monte Subasio 20 minutes or so east of Perugia, is a delight. Loved for its magnificent medieval architecture, the kids and I like to try and get here late, when the crowds have left but the Basilica of St. Francis is still open. Try to drink in the atmosphere of the medieval alleys (especially good at night) and views of surrounding countryside, blanketed in woods and olive groves. The soft pink of its buildings shimmering against the greenery of the mountain is enough to take even my teenager’s breath away.
“Horribly beautiful” is how the Marmore Waterfalls were described by great English poet Lord Byron. The waterfalls – at 165 metres, the tallest in Europe – aren’t actually a gift from nature; they were created by human (Roman) hand in the 3rd century B.C. Marmore is the epicentre of the area’s tourist industry, and offers vast numbers of visitors the chance to practice exciting sports (we love the rafting) in the stretch of river below it. Late afternoon‘s a good time to view the falls on a sunny day; less haze.
Piediluco is a small medieval village situated on the shores of the lake of the same name, and an ideal destination for fans of sailing, boating and water skiing. International rowing competitions are held here, and its sports facilities are used by athletes from around the world. We love to rent a pedalo and pedal to Monte Caperno, where you can shout up to two syllables and hear the echo phenomenon – then relax on the small, well-equipped beaches.
The city of Spoleto is full of impressive Roman ruins. In ancient Roman times, the city was a favourite spot for nobles to build their summer holiday homes, with its cool climate and the clean air of the surrounding forests. Head for Rocca Albornoz, where you can first admire the view of the marvellous valley of Spoleto and the Cathedral, then embark on a fascinating mechanised journey as eight blocks of escalators take you on a journey up to the Ponzianina, Corso Garibaldi, the Basilica St. Salvatore, San Ponziano Church and Monastery.
To this day, truffles remain a delicacy for the most demanding palates, and Norcia, 50 kilometres from Spoleto, has been the ‘truffle capital’ since Roman times. If you like your visits quieter than Assisi, this small town combines the delicacy with art, beautiful countryside and traditional customs in a very Umbrian way. The truffle is the most celebrated and expensive ingredient in Italian cookery, and used to flavour a range of dishes, such as crostini al tartufo, pasta and risotto dishes. All of which explains why Umbria is one of the top-rated parts of Italy when it comes to quality of life.
Single Parents on Holiday offer a 1-week break in Umbria exclusively for single parents and their children from 5 to 12 August 2017. This single parent holiday is an activity holiday with accommodation at a beautiful small country hotel near Spoleto with good sized pool and a range of activities and excursions on offer, such as a visit of the Marmore waterfalls, an evening in Spoleto, a day trip to Assisi, rafting, high rope garden, a boat trip on Lake Piediluco, and much more.