Hiking in Umbria

Five Beautiful Trails by Rebecca Winke
 

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Rebecca  Winke

Rebecca Winke
HomeAway travel expert


Hiking in UmbriaUmbria, with its undulating landscape, tiny hilltop hamlets, and isolated abbeys and fortresses, is a hiker’s paradise and yet not seemingly hiker-friendly.

Though this region sometimes falls short in trail signage, itinerary information, and logistical support for walkers, the scenery and history along its walking routes more than make up for these inconveniences.

Here are five of my favourite walks and hikes in the region, many combining the best of nature and culture.

Rebecca's favourite hikes in Umbria

  Slightly off the route of Saint Francis’ Way is one of the prettiest monasteries in Umbria: San Pietro in Valle in the Nera River Valley. Take the time for this short detour, and enjoy the serene setting, gorgeous views, and beautiful Gothic frescoes.

  The Piano Grande plateau below the Lago di Pilato explodes with color in late spring and early summer, as the meadows of wildflowers, fields of clover and flowering forage bloom. Time your hike accordingly for some of the most breathtaking photos of your trip.

 The If you follow the Spoleto-Norcia trail to the end of the line, you’ll find yourself in the pretty foodie mecca of Norcia. Reward yourself with some of their famed black truffles, excellent charcuterie, or a filling bowl of legume soup, made with local heirloom beans.

 Spello is home to the famous Baglioni chapel, frescoed on three sides by Renaissance master Pinturicchio in the 16th century, and paved with Deruta majolica tiles from the same century. Like all Medieval works, these paintings are elaborate and rich in allegory and symbolism; I suggest visiting the chapel with a good guide to fully enjoy the paintings.

 Lake Trasimeno is famed for its spectacular sunsets, so when late afternoon sets in, make sure you've picked a strategic spot facing west over the water (perhaps with a chilled bottle of crisp local white wine at hand!).

 
 

 

 

Rebecca's top five hiking trails


   

Saint Francis' Way Saint Francis' Way

It seems only fitting that one of the most beautiful hikes in Umbria has ties to this region’s most famous citizen, who spent much of his life travelling to the far reaches of this region to preach and pray. La Via di Francesco is a pilgrimage route beginning in either La Verna from the north or Greccio from the south, and retraces Francis’ footsteps to Assisi and the Basilica of Saint Francis. The route stops at some of the most meaningful Franciscan sites in Umbria and walkers can experience, first-hand, Francis’ extraordinary life, which has never failed to compel and inspire over the centuries. The region has a detailed website and printed guide with maps, descriptions, and instructions as to how to obtain the Pilgrims’ Credentials (the Way’s official travel document), which can be used to receive the Testimonium Viae Francisci in Assisi for those who have walked at least 80 kilometres of the pilgrimage.

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Il Lago di Pilato Il Lago di Pilato

For sheer heart-stopping beauty, the Sibilline National Park straddling the border between Umbria and Le Marche wins hands down. This rigorous hike begins at the Piano Grande plateau near the tiny hamlet of Castelluccio, and follows trail 202 over Mount Vettore to the small Lago di Pilato, nestled at the bottom of the glacial basin at the centre of the mountain’s U-shaped crest. This ice age lake (home to the tiny prehistoric russet-coloured crustacean Chirocefalo del Marchesoni) was named for a popular legend; one which holds that the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus captured Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and brought him back to Rome, where he was summarily executed. The body was tossed into this remote lake, and his bones are said to still lay in its depths.

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The Spoleto-Norcia Railway The Spoleto-Norcia Railway

The historic railway line that ran between the lovely Medieval hilltown of Spoleto through the mountains to the remote village of Norcia from 1926 to 1968 has been retrofitted as a trail for hiking or biking through some of the loveliest countryside in Umbria. From the tiny restored station in Spoleto (now used for railway-related exhibits), the 51 kilometre route passes the now empty stations in the villages and hamlets of Caprareccia, Sant’Anatolia di Narco-Scheggino, Piedipaterno-Vallo di Nera and Borgo Cerreto-Sellano, passing over dizzying stone bridges and under narrow tunnels along the route (bring a torch). The trail is significantly less maintained from Sellano to Norcia, but still worth the logistical difficulties for both the views from the hilltops and the silence of the remote countryside.

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The Spello-Collepino Roman Aqueduct Trail The Spello-Collepino Roman Aqueduct Trail

Well-marked and not particularly rigorous, the lovely trail 52 winds through the sea of olive groves and typical Mediterranean woods covering the slopes of Mount Subasio; it skirts the newly-restored Roman aqueduct, which transported water over a millenium ago between the tiny fortified hamlet of Collepino and the town of Spello, rich in Roman history and ruins. The five kilometre route begins at the end, outside Spello’s Medieval Porta Montanara; from here, after a brief stretch along the asphalted road, the trail runs between the aqueduct to the left and the stunning views over the Umbrian valley and the distant Appenines to the right. The route crosses two Medieval bridges spanning the Chiona stream, and has a series of park benches which overlook the layered foothills of Mount Subasio and the Medieval “skyline” of Spello in the distance. The final stretch to the castle of Collepino is steep, but the charm of this sleepy village is worth the effort.

View hiking homes in Spello

 
   
 

   

Lake Trasimeno Lake Trasimeno

This placid lake, tucked in the soft rolling hills on the border between Umbria and Tuscany, is a favorite for sun-worshippers who flock to its shores in the summer months. That said, a leisurely walk through the olive groves and meadow-covered slopes overlooking the lake is as refreshing as a dip in its waters. Begin in the fetching resort town of Passignano sul Trasimeno, climbing from the centre towards the hamlet of Cerqueto to the lovely Mediterranean wood above. Enjoy a fabulous view of the lake, her three tiny islets, and the surrounding broom-covered hills, and then take trail 50 back to Passignano. From here, a ferry transports you to the idyllic (and traffic-free) Isola Maggiore in the middle of the lake, where you can easily stroll around its entire circumference in less than four hours. Take a moment to visit the small chapel on the island’s eastern shore with a statue of Saint Francis, commemorating his 40 day fast at this spot. All roads in Italy may lead to Rome, but all trails in Umbria lead inevitably to Francis.

View rentals by Lake Trasimeno

 
   
 

 

Self Catering Accommodation in Umbria for Walking Holidays

LA MARTINELLA 12 sleeps, nice stone villa with park, pool near Trasimeno Lake

PRIVATE STRUCTURE. La Martinella is a 17th century stately home which a noblewoman of the same name took as dowry when she married an important gentleman of the time. Imposing pieces of 19th century furniture decorate the spacious rooms, with high...

CASALE DELLE LAVANDE 10 sleeps, splendid holiday stone-villa, with a magnificent

PRIVATE STRUCTURE. On a west-facing hill, the red sunset irradiates the magnificent garden and lights up Casale delle Lavande, a delightful house of uncommon charm immersed in the heart of the typical Umbrian countryside. The skyline seen from her...

CASALE DEI TIGLI 8 / 6 sleeps, beautiful restored stone-villa with park and pool near Orvieto, Umbria

THIS VILLA IS AVAILABLE ALSO IN 6 SLEEPS VERSION, PLEASE CONTACT EMMA VILLAS. PRIVATE STRUCTURE. The attractive Casale dei Tigli is a recently renovated and expanded country farmhouse, clad with stone and simply decorated, with terracotta floors a...

EREMO DELLE ROCCE 8+2 sleeps, splendid villa with pool and breathtaking view near Spoleto (Umbria)

PRIVATE STRUCTURE Eremo delle Rocce (Hermitage of the Rocks) is an elegant house, a renovated 19th century noble residence which was built on one of the seven medieval hermitages of Spoleto, the Eremo dell’Annunziata. Just 4 km from the historic t...

INSIDE a Beautiful Village with Pool, Privacy,Panoramic Views! Shops,Restaurant

SAVE! 10/4-11 SPECIAL IN LA TERRAZZA apartment!! We offer something special: the gem of a beautifully restored historic property within medieval walls of an Umbrian hilltop village with shops and restaurants just steps away; private pool and terra...

Enjoy Elegant Villa in Vibrant Panicale With Stunning Views and secluded garden!

Imagine living in elegant luxury in a historic villa in one of the most vibrant towns in Umbria. Wake up to the smell of freshly roasted coffee and pastries. Sit in the afternoon soaking up the sun and the best panoramic views in all of Umbria. Re...

Secluded 17th century villa in 40 acres with pool and tennis court

Casivieri sits at the end of a valley, promising absolute privacy, in an idyllic setting of 40 acres with truly incredible views. Absolute peace and privacy is guaranteed as the villa is set well away from any road within grounds that include a tr...

Stunning, newly restored, 16th Century hilltop property with adjoining church

Stunning hilltop 16th Century property with breathtaking views of the Umbrian countryside available for rent. Generous accommodation for up to 10 people with easy access to local towns and places of interest. Available throughout the year. Chies...

Villa Fortunato, Antique Farmhouse, Province Of Perugia

Villa Fortunato - Italy, Province of Perugia, not far from Todi Villa Fortunato is an antique farmhouse, lying on a hill 600 meters above sea level, overlooking the countryside. The cities of the region of Umbria can easily be reached due to cl...

Charming Estate Which Dates Back to the Early 1400

One side faces the tiny streets of Paciano and the other is part of the fortified walls of the village facing the Umbrian hills. The property has been in possession of the same family for the past six generations. It has been carefully restored an...
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