Tuscany and Umbria
“A feast of art and culture nestled amongst vineyards and olive groves.” - Reviewed by Deborah
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- Miguel says: “Truffle foraging had to be the highlight in Umbria.”
- Deborah says: “It’s not all about wine here, though many of the villa owners I met produce their own labels.”
- Lisa says: “Shopping is amazing in Siena and Florence, so be sure to avoid Sundays when stores tend to close.”
Side by side, the regions of Tuscany and Umbria are a match made in heaven for travellers searching for that authentic central Italy experience.
To the west, Tuscany is the extroverted show-stopper, nourishing the crowds with its bevy of World Heritage Sites, renaissance art and architecture, globally acclaimed wines and bucket-list hotspots such as Florence, Siena, Pisa and Chianti. To the east, Umbria is the unsung talent, no less impressive, whose faithful fans pray never gets fully discovered by the multitudes.
There are few destinations in the world that carry such romanticised kudos as Tuscany, and rightly so! What self-respecting romantic hasn’t daydreamed at least once in their life of escaping the rat-race to run a vineyard under the Tuscan sun? Or imagined themselves learning the finer points about art history from a great master by day and the art of eating and drinking by night?
When visiting Italy for the first time, Tuscany has to be high on your list. Its popularity is not for nothing and natural beauty abounds. Expect rolling hills combed with budding vines and olive trees, fields blazoned in flaxen waves of blossoming rapeseed, and avenues of cypress trees saluting the horizon. And, peppered amongst Mother Nature’s finery, beautiful Tuscan villas flirt in the sunlight and medieval towns seem to materialise out of nowhere upon navigating a hairpin bend in the road.
Many people also forget that Tuscany has an equally impressive coastline with a thriving seaside scene.
Similar in natural beauty and abundance of stunning historical towns and wineries, Umbria is the perfect choice for those who love the Tuscan spirit but prefer to share the experience with fewer fellow visitors.
Umbria is particularly great for those returning to the region who want to visit more amazing locations rather than repeating the big names in Tuscany. First-time visitors will also find they are not too far away when staying in Umbria to comfortably visit Tuscany’s big attractions in easy day trips.
When it comes to quaint medieval towns and villages, many an Italophile would argue that Umbria does them better than Tuscany, and you will certainly have fewer bods in the background of your selfies. Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto and Orvieto are just a handful of the places you could visit for inspiration.
Umbria might not have a coastline like Tuscany but what it lacks in sea it makes up for with Italy’s largest lake, Lago Trasimeno
- Central Italy
- Main airports: Florence, Pisa and Perugia
- 1-3 hours from Rome
- 3-6 hours from Milan
- Art and Museums – Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Perugia are the main contenders when it comes to art and museums. While Pisa, San Gimignano and Assisi are like open-air museums in their own right, ideal for sightseeing.
- Walking and Cycling – The whole region is primed for long walks and leisurely bicycle rides through the rolling countryside.
- Hot Air Balloons – Ballooning is a fabulous way to appreciate the local geography and enjoy a unique experience with your favourite people.
- Gastronomy – Discover the many local and regional dishes with hundreds of restaurants to suit every taste and budget – plus a gelateria on every corner and piazza. You’ll find plenty of stores selling local delicacies such as olive oil, cheese, ham, truffles and even wild boar. The region is also famous for producing sheep’s milk cheese and giant, salt-free loaves of bread.
- Wine Tastings – You will be spoiled for choice for wine tasting tours in Chianti, Montepulciano and Montalcino amongst others.
- Shopping – Boutiques and specialty shops selling everything from local designer clothing to unique Italian commodities such as leather items, silk ties, ceramics, handmade stationery and jewellery.
- Golf – A good selection of golf courses to choose from.
- Hunting – Hunting season runs from September to February allowing hunters to head in search of pheasant, grouse, hares and rabbits as well as deer and wild boar.
- Beaches – Tuscany’s coastline to the west boast some of Italy’s most sophisticated seaside towns and beaches.