Umbria is a land-locked region in the heart of central Italy, with Tuscany to the west and Le Marche to the east. The capital of the region, Perugia, is centrally placed in Umbria, while the ancient city of Spoleto is well located for exploring the southern part of the region.
Umbria can perhaps best be thought of as 'Tuscany without the crowds', and you can discover ancient towns and villages set in beautiful rolling countryside while avoiding the crowds that tend to congregate in the most popular of the Tuscan destinations.
To help when you are planning a visit we introduce the highlights of Umbria below as three separate regions: Perugia and the north, Spoleto and the south and Assisi and the east, since you are unlikely to explore the entire region during one visit (we haven't forgotten the west - the highlights here are included in north or south Umbria according to their location!)
Perugia and the north of Umbria
The principal town in northern-central Umbria, Perugia, is also the region capital and home to numerous historic monuments and an important art gallery. As with many Italian regional capitals, the city will be a highlight of your visit: see the Perugia guide.
To the west of here, visit the village and castle of Lisciano Niccone and the town of Cortona (just across the border into Tuscany).
From here continue to Lake Trasimeno, an attractive and popular destination with the villages of Castiglione del Lago and Magione on the west and east edges of the lake respectively.
Spoleto, Orvieto and the south of Umbria
Travel south from Perugia to reach the pretty town of Todi. West of Todi you can visit the splendid cathedral at Orvieto and also near the western border of Umbria be sure to visit Citta della Pieve, above all to see the artworks of Perugino.
Further south in Umbria be sure to visit the traditional medieval town of Narni and the town of Terni and nearby Marmore waterfall.
To the west of here you can visit the fortified town of Amelia, then an excursion to the collegiale church in Lugnano in Teverina is recommended. The medieval town at San Gemini also has a great deal of interest to visitors.
Heading now to the east of Umbria you will enjoy exploring the town of Spoleto then continue eastwards to enjoy the mountain scenery of Monti Sibillini.
Be sure to pause to explore the medieval heart of Norcia on the way, and visit the shrine at the small town of Cascia to the south-west of here. The village of Sellano is also in a picturesque setting nearby.
The scenery of the Valnerina region south of Spoleto is equally enticing - more rolling than mountainous, and very worthy of being explored.
Assisi and the east of Umbria
To the east of Perugia, the most visited destination in Umbria is Assisi, now dominated by a substantial basilica that commemorates the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi.
West of Assisi the ancient village of Bettona and the interesting town of Bastia Umbra are close by while to the north and east of here highlights include Valfabbrica and Valtopina: there are a good number of small historic villages to explore in this region.
Travelling south-east from Assisi through central Umbria there are several places of interest. First visit the cathedral and cloisters in Foligno and take a stroll around the centre of the medieval village of Spello.
We also suggest you visit the historical town of Trevi just east of the very ancient village of Montefalco. The village of Bevagna and the imposing fortress of the Borgias at Gualdo Cattaneo should also be on your list of places to visit in this part of Umbria.