HomeAway travel expert
With its steep mountains and charming towns, Italy’s ‘green heart’ can lay claim to being every bit as beautiful as neighbouring Tuscany. The hill towns of Perugia, Spoleto and Norcia are easily as charming and intimate as those to be found in Florence and Siena. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about visiting Umbria, however, is not its scenery but its price. Umbria doesn’t just have a lower profile than Tuscany - it also has lower prices. With a little planning, it’s possible to take in Umbria on a budget while still experiencing the best the region has to offer.
It may not be renowned as a tourist hotspot, yet Umbria can comfortably hold its own against its more illustrious neighbour; the olive groves, vineyards and rolling hills topped with cypress trees encapsulate rural Italy at its greenest and finest. As evidence of Umbria’s affordability, check out the HomeAway holiday rentals to be found in the region. For those on a budget, Umbria might just be the ultimate Mediterranean destination: affordable, yet full of history and bucolic beauty in the centre of Italy.
Explore the mountainous region of Umbria
As you would expect, food plays a central role in the lives of the Umbrian people. For those embarking on a gastronomic holiday, head to Norcia, where the truffles, ham and cheese are the finest in the region. Umbrian cuisine, with its Etruscan roots, is characterised by rustic, seasonal ingredients. Grains, vegetables, herbs and olive oil are used to create bright, simple, hearty dishes, made using recipes that have been handed down through generations. Be sure to sample crispy bread and fresh olives in the street markets to be found in the hillside towns scattered throughout Umbria.
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Italy’s only land-locked region, Umbria has been inhabited since 1,000 BC. The ancient settlements first built there now form the cities of Terni, Todi, Spoleto, Assisi and Gubbio. It is said that time stopped in Umbria in 1544 when the pope enacted a salt tax, leading to a Salt War that brought Umbrian culture to a standstill. Today, time still seems to move slowly in the hill towns, which retain much of their original history and character. Life moves at an unhurried pace here, making it the perfect spot for an unhurried holiday.
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The verdant Umbrian landscape is well suited to an array of outdoor activities, including rafting along the Nera River which splits the landscape. Adventurous types can also experience hang-gliding on the slopes of Monte Vettore, while rock climbing and cycling are as popular with the locals as they are with tourists. But exploring the Umbrian outdoors isn’t just for thrill-seekers, of course; there’s just as much pleasure to be derived from a round of golf or a leisurely hike through the mountains.
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Umbria’s main city is renowned as a centre of mediaeval art. Perugia is steeped in history, as can be evidenced by taking a stroll through its Centro Storico. The city is also a major chocolate producer and hosts the region’s largest jazz festival. The cobbled one-way streets in Perugia aren’t ideal for driving; best advice is to explore the town on foot, following the series of escalators that lead into the old town. On the way, you’ll pass Rocca Paolina, a mediaeval citadel that’s worth making time for.
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Depending on your mood, stepping out for the night in Umbria can mean a dozen different possibilities. Sip a glass of wine while you listen to a jazz band in one of the street-front cafes. Enjoy a candlelit meal in a quaint village restaurant. Or, for those feeling young and restless, there’s always the option of Velvet Discoteca in Perugia, where a busy dance floor is overlooked by a vibrant terrace bar. Umbria may be characterized as a sleepy region, but nevertheless, it knows how to party.
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Umbria food image © All rights reserved by Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours
Activities image © All rights reserved by GLADIATOR'S TOUR
Activities image © All rights reserved by Hedonistic Hiking
Perugia image © All rights reserved by Riccardo Ravelli
Nightlife image © All rights reserved by rbrophy
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