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Umbria is Italy's Green Heart!

Umbria is Italy’s Green Heart!

Umbria and Le Marche: A Travel Guide

Both refined and wild, Umbria is characterized by verdant rolling hills, fields of red poppies, the smoky flavor of truffles, and the tang of sheep’s milk cheese. It is a land of Etruscan and medieval origins, steeped in spirituality. East­ward, the mountainous natural parks of Le Marche descend into medieval seaside towns and popular beach resorts on the Adriatic frequented by Italians on holiday. Don’t expect everyone to speak English; do expect to be enchanted. Ready to plan your villa rental experience in Umbria and Le Marche? Here’s a brief travel guide for inspiration:

The beautiful town of Assisi. Photo: Roby Ferrari

The beautiful town of Assisi. Photo: Roby Ferrari

Food in Umbria

The pasta in this region is delectable, especially the umbricelli, a specialty of Northern Umbria. Perugia’s delicacies include bruschetta, zuppa di farro (an ancient form of wheat), pork dishes, wild pigeon, and squab. As for truffles, dogs or pigs sniff out these precious mushrooms in the area around Norcia and Spoleto. The cuisine of Southern Umbria highlights the subtle combination of truffles, olive oil, cheese, and homemade pasta. The white wine of Orvieto is the region’s best.

Perugia is a wonderful city to explore! Photo: Larry Ferrante

Perugia is a wonderful city to explore! Photo: Larry Ferrante

Day Trip: Orvieto

Midway between Florence and Rome, Orvieto is perched on a pedestal of volcanic tufa (compressed rock) 900 feet above the valley floor. The cathedral, one of the Italy’s greatest, is a must-see. The Pozzo di San Patrizio, or Well of Saint Patrick, has a beautiful double helix staircase that allows you to walk 200 feet down and back up again without retracing your steps. Nearby, the area around Rocca Ripensa is littered with Etruscan ruins and hiking trails. Local villages are inhabited by artists producing traditional handicrafts.

The beauty of the Umbrian countryside will astound you!

The beauty of the Umbrian countryside will astound you!

Food in Le Marche

In general, the cuisine of Le Marche is a mix of rustic Italian fare and seafood. The signature dish is porchetta: a roast suckling pig served whole or sliced into crispy rolls. Also try brodetto (fish broth) or zuppa di pesce, a fish soup flavored with saffron. The classic wine of Marche is verdicchio, a crisp white with a tinge of pale green, excellent when paired with seafood. Rosso Conero and Rosso Picenso are both excellent reds, based on the Montepulciano grape.

Day Trip: Urbino

Urbino should be your first destination in Marche. It is the jewel of the region, and one of Italy’s most beautiful walled hill towns. The Palazzo Ducale, completed in 1482, is particularly stun­ning. The town of Macerata is also not to be missed. It, too, is a lovely hill town that remains off the beaten tourist track. Rimini, both tourist resort and Renaissance town, is worth a mini detour (depending on the season!) to see Roman ruins and the Federico Fellini Museum.