Sampling the delights of Umbria, Italy…

English: The cathedral of Santa Maria dell'Ass...

English: The cathedral of Santa Maria dell’Assunta in Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For us, Umbria was a huge contrast to its neighbouring province of Tuscany which is known throughout the World for its art, architecture and red wine. Umbria boasts many famous towns perched on hills, including Perugia, Assisi, Todi and Spoleto, wonderful food with truffles seemingly added to everything except breakfast, more fish and wonderful white wines. So foodies who like red meat and red wine should target Tuscany and leave Umbria for white wines and truffles!

We based ourselves for a two night weekend in Spoleto, Southern Umbria, World renowned for its outdoor festival of performing arts, including music, dance and theatre. Just an hour from Rome, we noted that Spoleto was a favourite weekend retreat for Romans. Split into two levels, Spoleto abounds with Roman ruins, wonderful architecture and stunning views. We were staying in a comfortable and inexpensive hotel, adjacent to the famous Roman amphitheatre and the wall of the old city. Our first afternoon took in seeing a wedding at the beautiful cathedral, wandering the ancient hilly streets and alleys, climbing the hills to the castle and crossing the viaduct, taking hundreds of photos, and resting for a glass of the famous local white wine. With a thousand years of history, beautiful architecture, superb food and wine, and apart from the Spring arts festival, Spoleto is largely off the tourist radar – a true gem.

Sunday morning we set out for Assisi which we immediately noticed had more tourists than Spoleto. We arrived to the sound of the church bells. Apart from Italian families having a day out, we met Japanese groups, Americans and French. The old town, perched at the top of the hill is quite beautiful. We started our visit with a climb to the castle and stunning views of the Umbrian panorama. It was Sunday, so settled on a simple restaurant for lunch, popular with the locals, and tasted pasta with truffles and wild mushrooms. We had a pleasant conversation with a French couple at the next table from Toulouse, swapping travel tales. In the afternoon, the SatNav was being naughty and took the car around some dangerous mountain ledges, which was quite scary at the time but on reflection provided some wonderful and memorable views of Umbria.

Today we head South for the Amalfi Coast…..