What to do in Umbria? I thoroughly explored the region on my recent Umbria road trip.
Check out my guide to the best things to do in Umbria Italy. Find out the top things to do in Umbria, the unique things to do in Umbria, the most unusual things to do in Umbria, and the fun things to do in Umbria, Italy. Find out what to see in Umbria and discover the hidden gems of Umbria!
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Umbria is a stunning landlocked region in central Italy. Umbria is the only Italian region that has no coast.
Nevertheless, the rolling hills, immense vineyards, vast sunflower fields, olive groves, medieval hilltop towns with gorgeous medieval castles, awe-inspiring cathedrals and churches, idyllic villages, and tasty food (aromatic truffles and the finest meats) make Umbria one of the best destinations in Italy.
Beautiful Umbria is one of the best-kept secrets in Italy. Umbria is one of the most authentic Italian regions, still not over-run by mass tourism. Umbria is popularly called ‘Tuscany without crowds’.
Umbria is a must-see destination in Italy for nature lovers and active vacationers (a perfect destination in Italy for walking holidays, horseback riding, hiking, etc.), history buffs (for its medieval towns and hamlets with castles), gourmands (for the truffles, chocolate, pasta), art lovers (for the masterpiece artwork such as frescoes by Giotto, Pinturicchio, etc.).
- Where is Umbria
- What is Umbria famous for
- How to get to Umbria
- How to get around Umbria
- Best things to do in Umbria, Italy
- 1. See the spectacular frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi
- 2. Visit St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi
- 3. Tour Baci Perugina Chocolate Factory in Perugia
- 4. Go truffle hunting in Umbria
- 5. Stroll the flowery street of Spello in Umbria
- 6. Admire Pinturicchio frescos in Baglioni Chapel in Spello
- 7. Visit Nunziatina, the Little Sistine Chapel of Todi
- 8. See Concordia Theatre, the smallest theatre in the world, in Umbria
- 10. Have a hot air balloon ride over Assisi
- 11. Sleep in a medieval castle in Umbria
- 12. See the Cathedral of Spoleto in Umbria
- 13. Visit the Cathedral of Orvieto, one of the most famous cathedrals in Italy
- 14. Get in awe of the frescos of the Chapel of St. Britius in Orvieto
- 15. Enjoy the medieval Gubbio in Umbria
- 16. Get your Certificate of Craziness in Gubbio and become officially mad!
- 17. Take an active vacation on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria
- 18. Visit the medevial Castiglione del Lago in Umbria
- 19. Try cured meats from Umbria
- 20. Have Umbricelli pasta with truffles in Umbria
- 21. Take Umbrian cooking class
- 22. See Marmore Falls in Umbria
- 23. Walk the Franciscan Path of Peace in Umbria
- 24. Hike Via di Francesco
- 25. Visit the Sanctuary of St Rita of Cascia in Cascia, Umbria
Where is Umbria
Umbra is a mainland region in central Italy. Lazio, Tuscany, and Marche are the neighboring regions of Umbria. Perugia is the capital of Umbria.
What is Umbria famous for
Umbria is called the green heart of Italy. Umbria is famous for its green hills, lush woods, gorgeous medieval towns with spectacular cathedrals, castles, and palaces, the tallest manmade waterfall in the world, the delicious food of Umbria (truffles, chocolate, salami, pecorino cheese), and a number of popular Catholic saints who lived there (St Francis of Assisi, St Claire of Assisi, St Rita of Cascia and St Benedict). St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Italy was born, raised, preached, and died in Assisi in Umbria. Umbria is also known for the famous Baci chocolate from Perugia. Therefore, Perugia, the capital of Umbria is also known as the chocolate capital of Italy.
How to get to Umbria
Perugia International Airport serves Umbria.
Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi – Umbria International Airport has the majority of seasonal flights that connect Umbria with London, Barcelona, Vienna, Rotterdam, Buchucrest, Charleroi, Krakow, Tirana, Malta, Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia (Brindisi).
Therefore, Umbria is frequently reached from Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Ancona. It is easy to get from Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Ancona to Umbria.
For instance, Perugia (the capital of Umbria) is within a 2-hour and a half drive from Rome and a 2-hour drive from Florence. Perugia in Umbria is also within a 2-hour drive from Ancona.
How to get around Umbria
Umbria is best explored by car. To enjoy the picturesque hills, idyllic countryside, medieval castles, and hidden gems of Umbria, you need a car.
A car is necessary to see the best of Umbria. That’s why, I chose to rent a car at Rome Fiumicino Airport and headed to explore Umbria on a road trip.
Luckily, you can find really affordable rental cars online. Besides that, renting a car online is cheaper than renting a car at the airport.
Check out at Rome Fiumicino International Airport, Rome Ciampino International Airport, Florence Airport, Perugia Airport, and Pisa Airport.
Best things to do in Umbria, Italy
Things to see and do in Umbria
1. See the spectacular frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi
Assisi is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Umbria and beyond. The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi is the most famous attraction in Assisi and a top attraction in Italy.
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Basilica consists of two churches (the Upper Church and the Lower Church). Both churches are of the highest artistic (not only religious) importance. Stunning frescoes of the most important medieval artists adorn the churches.
Visit the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and admire the outstanding frescos of Giotto (portraying the life of St Francis in the Upper church), Cimbaue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti.
Join this Small Group Tour of Assisi, visit St. Francis Basilica, find out about the history of Assisi, and get valuable insights into the St. Francis Basilica in Assisi.
If you prefer private tours, this 2-5 hour Private Walking Tour with St. Francis Basilica is a perfect choice!
2. Visit St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi
St Francis of Assisi is the saint patron of Italy, along with St. Catherine of Siena.
He is also the patron saint of animals and the environment.
Saint Francis of Assisi is among the most venerated saints in Christianity. St. Francis of Assisi was the first saint stigmata. St Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Orders, devoted to the life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) and the Capuchin Franciscans are among the largest orders in the Catholic church today.
St Francis was born, preached, and died in Assisi. His remains rest in a glass urn in the ancient stone tomb in the Lower Basilica in Assisi.
Tomb of St. Francis in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Assisi, is one of the most popular Christian pilgrimage sites in Italy.
3. Tour Baci Perugina Chocolate Factory in Perugia
Perugia is the capital of Umbria and the Chocolate capital of Italy.
The famous Baci chocolate hails from Perugia.
Dark chocolate covering crunchy whole hazelnut with soft hazelnut grains and cocoa makes Baci one of the best Italian chocolates. Taking a Perugina Chocolate Factory Tour in Perugia is one of the best things to do for chocoholics. On this tour, you will explore the city of Perugia, tour the Baci chocolate factory, taste various Baci chocolates, and have lunch! If you want to spend a perfect one day in Perugia, I highly recommend taking this tour.
Want a perfect souvenir from Umbria? You can’t get wrong with a Baci chocolate! Baci chocolate is gluten-free and comes with Kosher certification.
4. Go truffle hunting in Umbria
The green and hilly Umbria is famous for its truffles (white and black). Truffle in Umbria is called ‘the King of the Table’.
Truffles can be white (Bianco) and black (Nero). Black truffles are more aromatic than white truffles. However, white truffles are more praised.
The highest number of black truffles in Italy is in Umbria.
The nickname of black truffle in Umbria is ‘the black diamond of the kitchen’. Truffle hunting is among the most unique things to do in Umbria. If you are searching for some of the most unique experiences in Umbria, check out Truffle Hunting Experience in Assisi (Viator)!
READ MORE: Best Truffle Hunting in Italy: When & Where to Go Truffle Hunting in Italy
5. Stroll the flowery street of Spello in Umbria
Spello is one of the most charming places in Umbria. The idyllic Spelo is the Flowers Capital of Umbria. Spello is famous for the annual L’Infiorata Festival. The festival happens around the Corpus Domini holiday. Locals make carpets and paintings out of flowers with religious motives for the festival. Regardless of the festival, Spello inhabitants are known for the loveliest flowery arrangements in Umbria.
The streets and homes of Spello are the most beautifully decorated in Umbria and are must-sees in Umbria.
If you are searching for a serene and romantic base for your Umbria trip, I highly recommend Spello.
Spello is only a 20-minute drive from Assisi, a 30-minute drive from Perugia, a 25-minute drive from Spoleto, and a 50-minute drive from Todd.
6. Admire Pinturicchio frescos in Baglioni Chapel in Spello
The small town of Spello has one of the best treasures of Umbria.
The jaw-dropping frescos by Pinturicchio adorn the Baglioni Chapel. Baglioni Chapel is a landmark of Umbria. Baglioni Chapel is a part of the Collegiate church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
If you are an art lover and wish to see some of the best Renaissance frescoes, Baglioni Chapel in Spello is a must-visit in Umbria, Italy!
7. Visit Nunziatina, the Little Sistine Chapel of Todi
The Nunziatina is a Baroque church in Todi and one of the most beautiful churches in Umbria and beyond.
Todi’s Nunziata is called the little Sistine Chapel of Todi for its spectacular frescoes.
The church is an artistic jewel and a hidden gem in Umbria.
8. See Concordia Theatre, the smallest theatre in the world, in Umbria
The Teatro della Concordia in Todi is the tiniest theatre in the world.
It dates back to 1808, and it is still active!
This tiny 19th-century theatre has only 99 places but is one of the most magical places in Umbria. Not surprisingly, many couples choose to get married at Teatro della Concordia in Todi.
The charming Concordia Thetar in Todi is a fairytale wedding place in Umbria!
10. Have a hot air balloon ride over Assisi
Assisi is a top destination in Italy for hot air ballooning.
Some argue that Assisi is the prettiest destination in the world for hot air ballooning. Having a hot air balloon ride is one of the top fun things to do in Umbria Italy.
Take a hot air balloon ride over Assisi and see the breathtaking Assisi, Umbrian vineyards, sunflower fields, and olive groves from above.
This hot air balloon tour ends with a typical Umbrian breakfast and wines of Umbria at a local winery!
Wish to see Assisi and Perugia from the air? This tour might be for you!
11. Sleep in a medieval castle in Umbria
Do you wish to sleep in a medieval castle? Umbra has got you covered! Picturesque green hills and lovely medieval castles dot the landscapes of Umbria. Some of the castles are turned into hotels and B&Bs.
Book a room in the 11th-century Castello Di Monterone in Perugia or in the 11th-century Castello Di Giomici in Valfabbrica in the heart of Umbria for the most unforgettable stay in Umbria, Italy.
12. See the Cathedral of Spoleto in Umbria
The impressive Cathedral of Spoleto is known for numerous intricate artwork (frescoes, mosaics, paintings, etc.) and the enormous square on which it stands. The Cathedral of Spoleto and its Square were in many movies and TV series. Don Matteo, the famous priest detective TV series, is the best known.
The Cathedral of Spoleto was built from the 9th to 13th century and is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The church holds many unique and stunning artworks (primarily dedicated to the Virgin Mary – Madonna). Its best artwork is probably the 15th-century frescoes by Filippo Lippi and Pinturicchio.
The frescoes by Lippi depict the life of the Virgin Mary with four main scenes: the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary Falling Asleep, and the Crowning of the Virgin Mary in Glory.
The frescoes by Pinturicchio are in Bishop’s Eroli chapel, and they depict God the Father with the Virgin Mary, Infant Jesus, St John the Baptist, and St Leonard.
The artwork of the Cathedral of Spoleto is a must-see in Umbria.
13. Visit the Cathedral of Orvieto, one of the most famous cathedrals in Italy
The Cathedral of Orvieto is famous as one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy.
The Cathedral is a symbol of the city of Orvieto.
The Cathedral of Orvieto is popularly called 7the Golden Lily’ for its golden mosaics on the facade.
Three centuries took to finish the magnificent Cathedral. The works on the Cathedral started in the 13th century, while the final decorations were done in the 16th century.
The cathedral is so intricately decorated that you could examine details for months!
Orvieto Cathedral has a stunning facade, masterpiece mosaics, sculptures, paintings, and goldsmiths.
The Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the mosaics on the facade show the life of Madonna (the Assumption, Nativity, and Coronation).
A large rose window, with the face of Christ the Redeemer in the middle, on the facade is one of the most distinctive features of the Cathedral.
The four marble-reliefed pilasters of the Cathedral show the stories of the Old Testament, the Genealogy Tree of Jesus, the New Testament, and the Last Judgement.
White-grey stripes made of white travertine and grey basalt dominate the interior.
The Cathedral of Orvieto holds many masterpiece statues. Among them, Pieta and St. Gabriel the Archangel are the most remarkable. The Pieta statue is made of one single block of marble. The 17th-century statue of St. Gabriel the Archangel on the side of the high altar in Orvieto Cathedral is the first baroque statue in the world.
Besides the Cathedral, Orvieto is famous for its Underground City. There is an underground labyrinth of caves and grottos beneath the historic center of Orvieto. Ancient Etruscans built the Underground City. Orvieto Underground is the coolest palce in Orvieto. Take this 2-hour Cathedral and Underground Tour and see the best of Orvieto!
14. Get in awe of the frescos of the Chapel of St. Britius in Orvieto
The Chapel of St. Britius of the Cathedral of Orvieto has the most spectacular frescoes in Italy. St Britius (Santo Brizio) is the patron saint of Orvieto. The frescoes of the chapel are a true treasure for itself. They are the finest pieces of the artistic-historical-cultural heritage of Italy. Beato Angelico, Benzolo Bozzoli, and Luca Signorelli were their master painters.
The sensational frescoes show the Resurrection of Christ and the Last Judgement. However, the unique frescoes show the scene of the Sermon of the Antichrist, a rare theme in Italian Renaissance art.
The admission fee to enter the chapel is 5 €.
If you join the above-mentioned Cathedral and Underground Tour in Orvietor, you will visit the Chapel too.
15. Enjoy the medieval Gubbio in Umbria
Gubbio is my favorite place in Umbria. Gubbio has a special and unique charm. It is a well-preserved medieval town with cobbled alleys, churches, palaces, scenic terraces, piazzas, a Roman amphitheater, charming artisan shops, and cozy restaurants.
Gubbio in Umbria is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy. The medieval streets and ancient architecture of Gubbio captured my heart. I believe it will captivate your heart, too! Don’t forget to take a birdcage cable car to take you up to Monte Ingino to enjoy the most spectacular views of Gubbio and the area. Gubbio is a must-see in Umbria. Don’t miss it out on your Umbra trip!
16. Get your Certificate of Craziness in Gubbio and become officially mad!
Are you interested in getting a certification of your madness in Umbria? Ha, ha .. it is not a joke. It is possible!
Fontana del Bargello in Gubbio is known as Fontana dei Matti (the Fountain of Madmen). Anyone who goes three times in a row around the fountain can get a ‘Certificate of Madness’ issued by the Maggio Eugubino Association.
The only requirement to get a certificate is to do it in the presence of a citizen of Gubbio as a witness of your ‘craziness’.
The person needs to ‘baptize’ you as a crazy person with the water from the fountain after you finish your run, and the person will require the certificate for you!
The fun tradition of the certification of Craziness in Gubbio dates back to 1880. Fontana del Bargello stands in front of Bargelo Palace in the center of Gubbio. Getting a Certificate of Craziness is one of the most unusual things to do in Umbria.
17. Take an active vacation on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria
Lake Trasimeno is in Umbria and makes a natural border between Tuscany and Umbria.
For instance, Lake Trasimeno is a 45-minute drive from Perugia, Umbria, and a 25-minute drive from Cortona, Tuscany.
Lake Trasimeno is the largest lake in central Italy and the fourth largest lake in Italy, a little smaller than Como Lake.
Lake Trasimenoin Umbria is a paradise for vacationers who prefer active holidays. Swimming, kayaking, hiking, and cycling the trails around the lake are some of the most popular activities on Lake Trasimeno. Lake Trasimeno covers an area of 128 km2 (49.4 sq mi), while a path around the lake is 160 km long. Trasimeno Lake also has three islands. There are several medieval towns and villages around the lake (Castiglione del Lago, Città della Pieve, Panicale, Passignano sul Trasimeno, and Castel Rigone) that are well worth visiting and are great places to stay in Lake Tresimano on a vacation.
18. Visit the medevial Castiglione del Lago in Umbria
Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno is known as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Castiglione del Lago is a pearl of Umbria. It is a fortified medieval town with Etruscan origins. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Castiglione del Lago was a marquisate and a duchy. So, it has a rich historical, artistic, and cultural heritage. The town has medieval walls, a medieval fortress, Corgna Palace, the Baroque church of St Domenico, lakeside bars and restaurants, and several lake beaches. Castiglione del Lago is one of the most idyllic places in Umbria. It is also strategically located. Castiglione del Lago is near many places in Umbria and Tuscany.
Castiglione del Lago is one hour drive from Orvieto, a 40 minute drive from Perugia and one hour drive from Assisi in Umbria. Castiglione del Lago is a 30-minutes drive from Cortona, a 35-minute drive from Montepulciano, and one hour drive from Pienza and Val d’Orcia.
19. Try cured meats from Umbria
Umbrian cuisine is known for cured meats, especially salami. Meat is appreciated highly in Umbrian cuisine, especially wild boar meat. Umbrian woods, particularly around Norcia, are full of wild boars. And not only with them. But with truffles as well. Wild boar salami with truffles are a delicacy of Umbria.
Pork is also used in Umbrian cuisine a lot. Prosciutto (the most popular prosciutto di Norcia), porchetta, coralline salami, coglioni di mulo cured meat, and slowed-roasted pig stuffed with herbs and offal are common foods in Umbria everyone needs to try while visiting Umbria.
There are many gourmand shops across Umbria where you can buy tasty Umbrian meats.
20. Have Umbricelli pasta with truffles in Umbria
Homemade pasta and black truffles are the authentic Italian food of Umbria.
Umbricelli pasta with black truffles is a traditional dish in Umbria. Umbricelli pasta is a typical pasta of Umbria. It is a long and thick pasta, similar to spaghetti.
Umbricelli pasta is prepared only with water, flour, and a bit of olive oil, but without eggs!
Umbricelli pasta typically comes in various sauces, but the most popular is black truffle sauce. And everything is topped with freshly grated black truffle. Whether you are looking for a vegetarian dish in Umbria or not, umbricelli pasta with truffles is a must-try dish in Umbria!
21. Take Umbrian cooking class
Truffles are a star ingredient of traditional Umbrian cuisine.
Take Hands on Italian Cooking Classes in Perugia (this is the top food tour in Umbria!) and learn how to prepare popular Italian dishes like homemade tagliatelle with sausage ragu, ravioli with spinach and fresh ricotta, Umbrian strangozzi pasta with truffle, chicken alla cacciatora, and veal alla Perugina.
Or try an Organic cooking class with a sommelier in an Olive and wine farm at Il Fontanaro (an organic house and culinary school near Perugia), and learn how to prepare homemade gnocchi, orecchiette, and tagliatelle with meat ragout or porcini mushrooms.
22. See Marmore Falls in Umbria
The highest man-made falls in the world are in Umbria. They are 165 m high and called Marmore Falls. Marmore Falls is near Terni in Umbria and is only one hour and a half drive from Rome. Visiting Marmore Falls is one of the most popular day trips from Rome.
Marmore Falls made ancient Romans when reversing the flow of the Velino River in 271 BC. Marmore Falls has three main tiers and viewpoints. The first tier and the first viewpoint are at the top of the waterfall. The second tier and the second viewpoint are in the middle of the falls, while the third tier and the third viewpoint are at the bottom of the falls. However, the best viewpoint of Marmore Falls is the Belvedere Pennarossa Inferirore viewpoint across the park. There are plenty of parking lots in the park (good to know if traveling to Umbria by car!). You can buy your ticket at the ticket office.
23. Walk the Franciscan Path of Peace in Umbria
The Franciscan path of Peace (Il Sentiero Francescano della Pace) goes from Assisi via Valfabbrica and Castello di Biscina to Gubbio. The route is 50 km long and retraces the path St Francis of Assisi took in 1207 when he left all of his material possessions and paternal heritage and went from Assisi to Gubbio. The Franciscan Path of Peace from Assisi to Gubbio can be done only on foot, on horse, or by bicycle.
This path is also one stage of Camino di San Francesco (the Way of St Francis).
24. Hike Via di Francesco
Hilly Umbria, the green heart of Italy, is a perfect place for walking holidays. If you are a devout Catholic and/or have spiritual pursuits, look no further than Umbria and Tuscany.
Via di Francesco (Il Camino di San Francesco, the Way of San Francis) is a famous hiking trail in Italy that follows the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi. Camino di San Francesco is one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage routes, along with Camino de Santiago in Spain and Via Francigena.
It goes from La Verna sanctuary near Florence via Assisi to Rome. The route goes through some of the most beautiful landscapes of Italy (Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio). Some pilgrims choose to walk only from La Verna to Assisi. Some choose to continue their walk from Assisi to Rome. The Way of San Francis of Assisi is 450 km long. To walk from La Verna to Assisi takes about two weeks and another two weeks from Assisi to Rome.
25. Visit the Sanctuary of St Rita of Cascia in Cascia, Umbria
St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy and the most celebrated Catholic saint in Italy. However, Saint Rita of Cascia, from Cascia in Umbria, is also a greatly praised Catholic saint. She is known as ‘the Saint of Impossible’. People testify to her miraculous intercession in lost and impossible causes. The Sanctuary with her incorruptible body is within the Basilica of Cascia. The Sanctuary of St Rita of Cascia, in Cascia, is among the most visited pilgrimage sites.
Cascia in Umbria is 47 mi (77 km) from Perugia, 52 mi (85 km) from Assisi, and 83 mi (135 km) from Rome.
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