Welcome to Umbria, the green heart of Italy – Once the home of St. Francis, Umbria is blessed with a gentle landscape of lakes and rivers but also marked by once-powerful cities that still command respect from their high volcanic cliffs – haughty Perugia, ancient Orvieto, and the lovely hill town of Todi where the surrounding green valleys and pastures contrast with the town’s stark stone external structures.
Attend Gubbio's Race of the Candles
The Race of the Candles, 'Festa dei Ceri', celebrated in the magnificent medieval city of Gubbio on May 15this an amazing tour de force of strength and crowd control. The ‘candles’ are three huge wooden constructions of up to 280 kg., topped by statues of St. Ubaldo, St. George and St. Anthony that are hefted by competing townsmen up Mount Ingino to the Basilica of the patron saint St. Ubaldo. Learn more about the Festa dei Ceri and the city that hosts it.
Discover the engineering marvel of San Patrizio's well in Orvieto
In the majestic town of Orvieto, not far from one of the greatest Gothic cathedrals in Italy, is a fascinating well, designed by Antonio da Sangallo at the request of Pope Clement VII in 1527, whose double helix staircase allowed donkeys carrying water to travel 248 steps down or up without ever crossing paths (the same works for tourists). For a fortress-city built high on a tufo ridge and without a supply of fresh water, this well was critical. Though now unused as a source of water, its filtered light and cool retreat on a summer's day still makes St.Patrick's well, 'Pozzo di San Patrizio', a unique stop.
Umbria Jazz: Listen to world-class music
Music is in the air everywhere in an Italian summer, but two Umbrian cities, Perugia and Spoleto, draw visitors from all parts of the world to hear and see artists they assemble in July.
Though Perugia also brings in the New Year with jazz events, it is in mid-summer that the city buzzes with free form music by jazz greats, with concerts and jam sessions running late into the night. The 2019 Festival will run from July 12th-21st; Check the Umbria Jazz website for full details of past and upcoming events.
Festival dei 2 Mondi in Spoleto: Dance, Theatre and Music
From the last week of June to the middle of July Spoleto is stage and striking background for the Festival dei Due Mondi, Festival of the Two Worlds. With a full programme of music, theatre, performing arts and cinema, America meets Europe and art is in the air. Check the Spoleto Festival dei 2 Mondi website for details of past and future programmes.
Chocolate Festival in Perugia: indulge your sweet tooth
Calling all chocaholics – Every year in mid-October Perugia hosts the Eurochocolate Festival, a gourmet’s delight. Balls and bon-bons, carvings and hot drinks – all to celebrate the far from humble cacao bean. And naturally, there will be Perugina Baci (kisses) for all. Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Eurochocolate Festival is a delight for autumn visitors.
Trace the steps of Saint Francis
Giovani Francesco di Bernardone, better known as St. Francis of Assisi, was the founder of the Franciscan Order and is one of the patron saints of Italy. Born in 1181 to an Assisi silk merchant, Francesco (so called for his father's love of things French), his youth was filled with bright colors, money and pleasure. His perspective changed following illness in a wartime prison and by his early 20s he became known for the poverty and simple life he embraced. Giotto’s famous frescos tell of his story on the walls of a Basilica far from Franciscan in grandeur. Joining the pilgrims in Assisi involves stops at the massive Basilica di San Francesco that holds the tomb of the saint, as well as the Romanesque Duomo di San Rufino where he was baptized, and, below the town, Santa Maria degli Angeli, which houses the building in which he founded his order and later died in 1226. The town is awash with information, but you may like to refresh your knowledge of St. Francis and his town before you visit.
Shop in Deruta, where the colorful ceramic plate is king
Many visitors find room in their luggage for a bit of colourful ceramics and in Deruta the choice is dizzying. Sought after even by Renaissance noblemen, the charming little town has enjoyed 300 years of undisputed fame. Chances are good they might have something to catch your eye. Learn more about the Deruta ceramics and the factories, museum and workshops you can visit