Holiday rentals in Umbria 2013; wonderful countryside, magnificent medieval towns and a beautiful lake
Umbria, the ‘green heart’ of Italy, has always played second best to its famous neighbour Tuscany but its sheer beauty and endless attractions will undoubtedly impress any visitor.
Dotted with splendid medieval hill towns and offering the chance to escape the crowds in Tuscany, Umbria presents a great alternative for those wanting to visit their own little piece of Italy. Umbria certainly has some great attractions and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful regions in Italy.
Umbria is one of the few landlocked regions in Italy, and locals often refer the region as ‘il Cuore verde dell’Italia’ (‘Italy’s green heart’). Heart is something that this area has plenty of. It is the landscapes of Umbria that exert the most lasting charm; it may not have a coastline or spectacular mountains but the rolling hills, valleys and lakes make it gentle and serene.
Umbria has a typically central Italian climate. Summers are very hot with little or no rainfall in July and August apart from the odd thunderstorm. Spring and autumn are very pleasant and probably the best times to visit and although the winters are not mild, they are not too severe as with parts of the north of Italy. The rural backdrop to the region is reflected in the lifestyle of the Umbrian’s and you will find the region fairly relaxed.
The food and wine
Umbria’s cooking is uncomplicated, hearty and excellent. The region does not rank highly among the great culinary regions of Italy but it does not disappoint. The towns markets are awash with local produce and the region produces great olive oil, wheat and truffles. The Umbrian’s love their pasta and you will find a great selection in local restaurants. Meat is also popular and pork is king with duck and lamb also used. In the mountains around Norcia, expect to find pork ribs with sausage and lentils. In addition to bread, most dishes are also accompanied by flatbread.
Umbria’s porcini mushrooms are truly delicious. The wines from the region are internationally recognised, especially the king of Umbrian wines, Orvieto and Orvieto Classico, which are delicate dry whites. Today, the region is also known for ground breaking reds, such as Sagrantino di Montefalco.
What you find in Umbria is a wealth of impressive towns, which rival those of Tuscany.
Assisi, which is located beneath the slopes of Monte Subasio, is visited by a staggering 5 million tourists a year. The town, however remains beautiful with an array of cobbled streets, impressive piazzas, geranium filled window boxes, wonderful architecture and of course the world famous Basilica di San Francesco, which houses the tomb of one of the Catholics best loved saints, St Francis. Art lovers can admire the frescos by the some of greatest painters of the middle ages, Cimabue, Giotto and Lorenzetti to name a few. Assisi View House is a wonderful villa with pool located in the hills of Assisi.
As far as cities are concerned, the regions capital Perugia is a star attraction; a stylish and bustling hill city with a strong cultural tradition and some splendid monuments. Being home to many fresco painters during its past, it now attracts students from around the world. It is also the home of the best-known ‘Baci’ chocolates and has some fabulous shops. In the summer during the Umbrian Jazz festival, Perugia takes centre stage with a range of events. There is also an annual chocolate festival! Take a look at Villa Rosa Perugia, a great 4 bed villa with pool only 5 km from the City.
The hill town of Gubbio is one of the most striking with medieval architecture and surrounded by rugged and wooded landscapes. Many have classed this town as the ‘Siena of Umbria’ and although it doesn’t quite live up to this, it is still quite remarkable with a magnificent Piazza Grande and the enormous Palazzo dei Consoli. Gubbio countryside is a restored property with pool and self-catering apartments, surrounded by beautiful countryside.
The gorgeous hill town of Todi is a sophisticated little place with its impressive Piazza del Popolo and medieval public buildings. Other delights include Orvieto, a remarkable town with an extraordinary cathedral; Spello, often referred to as Assisi’s little sister; Bevagna, a sleek and welcoming little gem of a town and the almost unknown Trevi. The dominating hill town of Montefalco, which is often referred to as ‘the balcony of Umbria’ is also a great place to visit with its commanding position over the Vale of Spoleto. Villa Todi is a beautiful 3 bed country house only 8 km from the town.
The lack of coastline in Umbria is substituted by its lake. The fourth largest lake in Italy, Lake Trasimeno may not be on a par with its northern counterparts but it has a subtle and sleepy charm and is a great location for swimming, fishing, water sports and horse riding. It takes an hour to drive around its 35-mile circumference and is surrounded by gentle hills covered with olives and vineyards. There are a number of interesting resorts around the lake. Passignano is a lively and modern resort (with an almost hidden old town) with shops, fish restaurants and bars and very popular for the Sunday afternoon ‘Passeggiata’ (the obligatory walk with friends and family). The enticing Castiglione del Lago on the West shore is dominated by a 14th century fortress and has some pleasant beaches. Tuoro and San Feliciano to the south are pleasant as is Panicale with its picture postcard views over the lake and medieval core. For large groups, Villa Trasimeno offers the perfect holiday accommodation.
How to get there
There are three airports to access Umbria: Perugia airport; Pisa airport and Rome airports (Ciampino and Fiumicino).
Where to stay
Due to its popularity as a holiday destination, Umbria does have a great selection of properties to rent and ranges from the typical Umbrian farmhouses to apartments in Borgos, villas, townhouses, village apartments and houses. Rentals obviously vary according to the size and location of the property. A one-bedroom apartment can be rented for as little as £300 per week and a bedroom house with a pool from £1,000.
For a selection of rental properties in Umbria, click here
In conclusion, Umbria does have it all: wonderful countryside, excellent hill towns, lively Perugia for shopping and nightlife, Lake Trasimeno for swimming and water sports, mountains for walking, excellent culture and strong traditions. The rich combination of countryside, magnificent medieval towns and not forgetting the lake, give Umbria its own identity and it won’t take long for this green heart of a region to steal your own.