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Slow Travel Google Map: Italy, Umbria

Author: Corinna
Notes: October 2006: Corinna from San Potente, vacation rentals in Umbria (www.sanpotente.it) marks her favorite places in Umbria.

Accommodations

Residence Menotre

Via del Bosco
Rasiglia di Foligno

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Residence Vallemela

Loc. Montesanto 9, 9/a, 9/b
Sellano

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Villa Rosy (SV)

Via Di Mezzo, 11
Rivotorto di Assisi

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Churches

Castel San Felice

This church is another little gem of the Umbrian Romanic architecture (it dates from 1194!), close to the loop outlined by river Nera in the neighbourhood of Castel S. Felice, a wonderful small village near S. Anatolia di Narco. According to a legend, in that valley tormented by a dragon (the symbol of the malaria once infesting the area) some Syrian monks settled, and one of them, Felice, killed the monster and worked wonders like the resurrection of the only child of a widow. These legendary events are admirably represented on the fašade of the church.

Hermitage and Sanctuary

of Santa Maria Giacobbe
The hermitage was built in the XIII century to worship 'Maria Jacobi', one of the pious women supposed to have been present at the cucifixion of Christ and who retired here to lead a life of penance. It is located West of Pale at 525mt a.s.l. and a small road with 14 via crucis stops leads upwards. The view up there is just astonishing.

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Madonna delle Grazie

Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is about 1 km from Rasiglia. The walls of the church are covered with fine votive frescoes. The oldest dates back to 1454 and depicts the Madonna with her cloak spread over her faithful to protect them from the plague.
The church was probably named Santa Maria delle Grazie on account of the extraordinary events that took place during that plague-ridden period of history.

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Plestia

On the road from Colfiorito to Pievetorina and Visso, you get to the Santuario di Santa Maria in Plestia and to the excavations of the town of the same name. The sanctuary is visited by pilgrims every year and monthly markets are held around the church from May to September.
The crypt of the 11th century is particularly interesting: three rows of columns with antique capitals with geometrical decorations divide the crypt into five small aisles. The arcaeological excavations of Plestia brought to the light late-republican buildings, the forum, a temple and other buildings with mosaic pavements and porticos; underneath the Roman buildings have been found the remains of a village of the Iron Age (9th - 8th century B.C.).

Porziuncola

The Porziuncola is the place where Franciscanism developed, and where Saint Francis lived and died. The Porziuncola is situated now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in the town of the same name few kms from Assisi.
The chapel, of antique construction and venerated for the apparition of Angels within it, belonged to the Benedictine monks of Subasio.
It was abandoned for a long time and was restored by Saint Francis. It was here that he understood his vocation clearly and here that he founded the Order of the Friars Minor (1209) establishing here his home.

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Sanctuary of Rivotorto

The church of Santa Maria of Rivotorto, famous as the "Sanctuary of Rivotorto", is located in the homonymous village, a few kilometres south of the city of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
The edifice was born with the aim of preserving the structures of the Sacred 'Tugurio', which is the place where San Francesco gathered together his followers.

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Sassovivo Abbey

The Sassovivo Abbey stands on the declivity of Mt. Serrone (1000 mt). It is famous for its beautiful rectangular Roman cloister with its 128 pillars.

St. Eutizio Abbey

This wonderful abbey is considered the cradle of the Benedictine movement. It has been erected on the fifth century site where St Spes and other hermits had originally built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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Large Towns

Foligno

Being a medieval town built on a plain, Foligno represents a real exception!
Although tourists rarely consider visiting the city (probably because it is too big and not a classic medieval town), there are some valuable places which are definitely worth a visit: the 12th C. Duomo with its Romanesque fašade and the beautiful Piazza della Repubblica with the town hall and the Trinci Palace (14th Century - now hosting the Museo Archeologico and other permanent exhibitions) looking down onto the square, the Orfini palace (15th C.) and much more...
One of the occasions not to be missed to visit Foligno is Giostra della Quintana, an equestrian display accompanied by marvelous period costumes which is held in June and September.
Read also about I Primi d'Italia, the culinary event now at its VIII edition which is held in Foligno in late Sept every year.

Perugia

Perugia is the capital city of Umbria and it is a city born more than two thousand years ago, older even than Rome, still conserved within the city walls built by the Etruscans.
It is a city full of historic sites: the Palazzo dell'UniversitÓ Vecchia, Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral, the Fontana Maggiore, the St. Francis Complex, the Etruscan Well (III century B.C.). Not to be missed is the fortress which encircles the oldest part of the city brought to light thanks to a series of excavations.
The events held in Perugia are of International importance, such as the Eurochocolate event dedicated to chocolate with 9 days of open air tastings, and Umbria Jazz, one of the most famous Jazz festivals in Europe.

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Restaurants/Cafes

Il Casaletto

Family-run restaurant in a quite remote part of Umbria along the way to Pettino.
Excellent meat dishes, home-made pasta and ravioli filled with wild greens and great truffles!
You will definitely not regret a lunch here.
Closed on Mondays.

Osteria dei Carbonari

Fine restaurant located in Verchiano where you will savour a real taste of Umbria. Giovanni is very friendly and professional. Do not forget to order his "Crema" for dessert, just delicious.
Closed on Mondays.

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Parks

Altolina Natural Park

The conformation of this area is the result of the geological changes that took place roughly 200 million years ago, during the formation of the Apennine range and before the Italian peninsula had emerged from the sea.
The infiltration of water from the river Menotre have provoked an interesting hypogeal carsic rock conformation: Le Grotte (Caves) di Pale.
For information and excursions visit F.I.E. Foligno

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Park of Colfiorito

The Park is situated in the middle-western section of the Apennines, inside a huge tectonic plain between Umbria and Marche and it is called Altipiani di Colfiorito.
It consists in an immense plateau with exceptional values like the homonymous marsh gathering rare floral and vegetational species and aquatic birds and amphibians; Mt. Orve and its prehistoric "castelliere" together with archeological finds of the Roman town of Plestia.

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Park of Mount Subasio

The park has been established in 1995 with an extension of about 7,442 ha.
The Park is delimited North from the River Tescio, North-East from the stream Chiona and South-West from an ideal line linking the two tops of the hills where Assisi and Spello rise.
Within the park, it is worth a visit the church of 'Madonna della Spella' with its late medieval frescoes. Here mass is said once a year for the Ascension day. In this occasion all the families from the villages nearby gather up here and picnic.

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Sibillini National Park

The Park includes a natural territory between Umbria and Marche, of great naturalistic value and it presents very different landscapes and situations. The visitors can therefore carry out interesting naturalistic-historical guided excursions at the discovery of the four main sections into which the protected area is divided: the slope of the Alto Nera and of its "guaite" (Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Pievebovigliana, Pieve Torina, Ussita, Visso), the slope covered with flowers (Castelluccio), the magic slope and the sacred slope (Norcia and Preci).

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Sights

Fonti del Clitunno

Situated near Trevi, the springs are immersed in an enchanting oasis of peace which has inspired generations of poets.
The waters surge in well-heads from cracks in the rocks and gather in a small lake no more than 4 metres deep.
In ancient times there was a greater abundance of water and the river was deeper: the emperor Caligola could go the river with boats when he came and consulted the worshipped oracles of Clitunno, the god of the river.
On the river banks there were, at that time, a small temple and other sacred places, magnificent villas and spas.

Ipogeo dei Volumni

This underground Etruscan chamber tomb of the Volumnia family dates back to II b.C. but has been discovered only in 1840. It contains also a series of urns, utensils and statues belonging to the close Necropoli of Palazzone of which the hypogeum was once part.

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Isola Maggiore

Isola Maggiore is one of the three island in Lake Trasimeno. It is the only inhabited one. The small fishing village, which reached its height in the 14th century, today has only around thirty residents. Most of the buildings, including the ruins of a Franciscan monastery, date from the 1300's.
St Francis of Assisi lived on the island as a hermit from 1211. The 12th century Church of Saint Michael the Arcangel was built on the top of the hill.
The island's only town reached its height in the 14th century, after the establishment of a Franciscan Monastery is 1328. Most of the towns buildings date from this period.

Lake Trasimeno

Lake Trasimeno is immersed in a lovely environment, surrounded by green rolling hills. The Etruscan people settled around the lake and established their sophisticated culture there.
In 217 b. C. Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, on the northern shore of Tuoro dramatically defeated the Roman army.
During the Middle Ages it became to be known as 'the lake of Perugia': as a matter of fact the larger city submitted the small villages and the islands of the lake, that were turned into lucrative properties since the 12th century, providing fish and wheat.
The charming view of Trasimeno became an ideal element for the backdrops of many Renaissance painters, namely 'Il Perugino'.

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Marmore Waterfall

One of Europe's highest waterfalls. It is a scene of incomparable fascination and beauty, produced by the river Velino falling into the Nera from a height of 165m. Paths and routes help the visitors discover the heart of the park. Read about Rafting in the Marmore Park.

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Menotre Waterfalls

Surrounded by greenery, the Menotre waterfalls are the result of a 20-metre drop taken by the Menotre river after the village of Pale. After the waterfalls the river runs through Belfiore to then join the river Topino

Monteluco

Leaving Spoleto in the direction of Monteluco, on the right of the road you find the churh of S. Pietro (XII-XIII century). A few kilometres further up the hill can be found the church of S. Giuliano, which dates back to the twelfth century. Further on, you will arrive in Monteluco where it is possible to admire the monastery of S. Francesco (XV century).
Up there you will enjoy a splendid view of the plain of Spoleto!

Mount Vettore and Pilato Lake

The Sibillini National Park boasts some of the highest mountains in the Apennines and Monte Vettore is the highest in the park at 2,476m (8,124 ft).
My favourite excursion within the park is without doubt the visit to the Pilato lake, placed at 1940 m. of height, set in a natural basin on the slope of M. Vettore. This natural lake is the home of the 'Chirocephalus of Marchesoni', a little red shrimp unique in the world.
The legend of this lake in linked to Pontius Pilate, the famous Roman governor in Palestine. It is said that he was beheaded and his body thrown into the waters. The lake in fact turns red every summer thus re-fuelling the legend (although this has more to do with the mating colours of the tiny shrimp!).

Pettino

If driving to Spoleto from Rasiglia, choose the way to Molini/Pettino (SP 459). Pettino will give you a wonderful view over the valley.

Rafting the Corno River

For the adventurous tourists this is a nice way to discover the beauty of our nature!

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St. Emiliano Olive Tree

The olive tree dedicated to St. Emiliano (500m NE of St. Peter's in BOVARA) is probably about 1700 years old and is the oldest in Umbria. With little foliage its circumference measures about 9m. It is at present 'protected' with catalogue no. 102. As it is to be found on a relatively low slope, and therefore subject to severe frosts, it is to be considered a botanical rarity as the surrounding olive trees rarely survive more than 30 years.
Do not forget to visit in Bovara the 12th C. Church of St. Peter with its 5th C. sculptured freize on the fašade. The church was founded in 1158 by the Benedictines and rose to glory in the following centuries.

Tempio sul Clitunno

The little temple of the Clitunno, located in the territory of Trevi, has still maintained the classical name of the river having its source nearby.
The Temple lies on a high and severe basement equipped of a door at the center, through which one enters an underground having a T form. The vestibule presents on the front two lateral pillars and four columns sustaining the cornice work and the tympanum.

Towns

Assisi (SV)

No need to describe the beauty of the town of St. Francis, neither to list all the churches and the medieval buildings that are spread throught the town... The pin is marking the beginning of the St. Francis Path, 50km leading to Gubbio.
Even today the path climbs up in the middle of hills covered with woods in unspoilt surroundings; surely not much different from the one the young Francis had to follow eight hundreds years ago.

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Deruta

Deruta is known throughout the world for the production of precious majolica and ceramics, the decoration of which dates back to the Medieval ages, during the domination of the Church. The Grazia company is the oldest ceramics factory in town.
But Deruta is not only about ceramics: characterized by its castle-like construction, the city retains, like many Umbrian towns, its medieval identity with the Porta San Michele Archanegelo, the Palazzotto Municipale, the Church of St Francis, the Church of St Antonio, the Church of the Madonna del Divino Amore.

Gubbio

Located on the lower slopes of mount Ingino, Gubbio is one of the most beautiful and best preserved medieval towns in central Italy.
The Piazza and the Gothic-style Consoli Palace are the highlights of your visit.
Be sure also to visit the church of St. Francis which displays 15th-century frescoes by local artist Ottaviano Nelli; the Cathedral; the Church of St. Agostino and the St. Ubaldo Basilica situated at the very top on Mount Ingino (reachable by cable car or by coach). Overlooking the whole valley and providing a superb view, the church contains the three Ceri involved in the Corsa dei Ceri that occurs each May 15.

Montefalco

Known for its fine wine (the Sagrantino), Montefalco is a town which dominates a truly unique panorama, for this reason it has been called the "Ringhiera dell'Umbria". Please note the Church Museum of St. Francis which consists of the church, the art gallery and lapidary. The church houses frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli (1452) and a nativity by Perugino (1503). Click below to read about the Strada del Sagrantino.

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Orvieto

The town was built on top of a tufa rock reachable via a cable car. Of Etruscan foundation, it has extraordinary artistic jewels.
First of all the 'Duomo', a true masterpiece of the Italian art of the Middle Ages. It is a perfect combination of architecture, carving and painting . The fašade is adorned by beautiful mosaics, while the St. Brizio chapel boasts the magnificent Renaissance frescoes by Luca Signorelli. Besides the Duomo, the People's Palace, the Medieval Quarter and the St Patrick's well are worth a visit.
If you are a wine lover, you should consider a wine tasting in one of the many cellars producing the Orvieto Classico along the Strada dei Vini Etrusco-Romana .

Spoleto

Visitors to Spoleto will find it hard to forget historical and artistic sites which are some of the regions most majestic such as the Bridge of Towers (il Ponte delle Torri) which links Spoleto with the mountain (Monteluco), a construction more than 200meters long for a height of 80 meters; the Church of St. Pietro, with its 13th century fašade, the Cathedral with its mosaics and the Church of St. Eufemia.
The Festival dei Due Mondi which, in June and July, transforms Spoleto into the world Capital of prose, music and dance is not to be missed.

Todi

Beautiful town where Middle Ages and Renaissance live together. The visitor will most certainly be surprised to discover the beauty of the monuments of the Medieval era and the works of art of the Renaissance period. Amongst these, the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral, the Church of St Fortunato, the city's patron saint and, finally, the Temple della Consolazione which houses numerous works of art. Todi is the birthplace of Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306), one of the first poets in Italy to compose in dialect. Nowadays the town organizes the TodiArteFestival (click link below for more information), a theatre, lyric, dance and music review.

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Villages

Bevagna

Situated along the Roman Via Flaminia, the town is linked to the Roman era, as can be seen by its various Imperial ruins such as the Roman theatre dating back to the II century AD, and the remains of mosaics featuring marine animals, probably once part of spa buildings.
If the ancient heart of the city was Roman, what most characterizes Bevagna today is the legacy of the Medieval period - from the gates of the city and part of the city wall, still perfectly visible.
If you are visiting Bevagna in June, do not miss the Il Mercato delle Gaite and participate in the Middle Ages daily life.

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Cancelli

In the hills near Foligno, this tiny village has a history that goes back to the disciples of Jesus. Local legend says that apostles Paul and Peter came through the region to spread the gospel, and they were given hospitality by the original Mr. Cancelli, who suffered from rheumatism. In the morning, one of the apostles cured him and also taught him how to do hands-on healing. The technique has been passed down from father to son for two millennia, but if the healer moves from the village of Cancelli, the skill is lost.
The current practitioner is Maurizio Cancelli, who has already passed it on to his son.
Even if you don't need healing, you can have lunch at his restaurant 'I Due Apostoli'.

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Cascia

Cascia is a small town in the south-eastern tip of Umbria, surrounded by beautiful mountains, where Saint Rita lived in the 15th century, first as a married woman and then as an Augustinian nun. The highlights of Cascia include the Basilica of Saint Rita and the Monastery of the Augustinian nuns, besides all the places linked to her life. A short distance from Cascia is Roccaporena, the birthplace of the Saint, where one can still see her house, her wedding church, the tiny garden, and the 'rock' where she used to recollect in prayer.

Castelluccio di Norcia

Between the end of May and the beginning of July the Fioritura, an event of extraordinary beauty, is held on the plateau of Castelluccio; the green of the pastures becomes a waving mosaic of colours varying from yellow to red to violet. This tableau is composed of innumerable species of flowers: narcissus, violets, poppies, buttercups, lentils.

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Cerreto di Spoleto

This small town situated at 557 meters above sea level owes its name to the forests which are to be found in its vicinity.
Artistically, Cerreto is able to offer an impressive experience, due to its public and religious buildings dating back to the period between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Cerreto's most famous monument is without doubt the Church of St. Giacomo (14th-15th C.).

Ceseggi

The Lanini brothers together with their mother Sig.ra Franca run here a small farm producing a delicious local sheep's cheese, growing saffron and a rare kind of bean (le monichelle).
They also allow visits to their farm.

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Montesanto

During the 15th Century Montesanto was an imposing castle on the border between the Duchy of Spoleto and the Dukedom of Camerino, and rests of this important history are still visible when admiring the walls surrounding the castle and the church.
Nowadays only 8 people live here all year round!

Norcia

The town is the heart of the Sibillini National Park's sacred slope. It is famous for its charming square with the church dedicated to St. Benedict, the Dome and other interesting historical buildings. Norcia is also one of Italy's great culinary capitals, it is renowned for its truffles, pork sausages, hams, cheeses and lentils. Many excursions leave from here, like the one leading to the water meadows (the so-called "marcite"), the original irrigation system existing since the time of the Benedictine Monks.

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Poggiodomo

It is one of the smallest 'comuni' in Italy and standing 974mt above the sea level, it is the highest municipality of the Valnerina. The view over the valley is astonishing.
Just few kms South of Poggiodomo, you find Usigni where the baroque church of San Salvatore (built between 1631 and 1644 under the supervision of Bernini) is worth a visit.

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Preci

Preci is a pretty village situated on what used to be called the 'Valle Castoriana', so named due to the abundance of "castori" (otters), once found in the valley. With narrow winding roads and views over valley and mountains, you will enjoy a particularly attractive view.

Rasiglia

Rasiglia is a small village built around the Trinci (Lords of Foligno) Castle between the XV-XVI century. Part of the castle walls have been restored according to my grandmother's will in the early '90s and are still there for the eyes of the villagers and visitors.
Rasiglia belongs to the 'Therapeutic Sanctuaries area' which involves the Santuario della Madonna delle Grazie in Rasiglia, Cancelli, S.Paterniano near Sellano, S. Salvatore in Spoleto, Sassovivo and S. Maria Giacobbe in Pale.
Due to its strategic location near the river Menotre, since the XVII century Rasiglia has been choosen to settle grain and wool mills, one of which established by my ancestors.
Visitors can still recognize this past activity looking at the old buildings and the little waterfalls and dykes spread over the villages.
It is also quite common assisting the old women doing the washing with the freezing water of the River Menotre in the public wash-house!!!

Scheggino

Scheggino is situated just along the river Nera which waters lap round the old houses and a man-made canal, dug to supply power to a mill, divides the town into two.
It had been build under the domain of the Spoleto Dukedome between the XI and XII century and the remains of the old castle are still visible.
Just few steps form the town there are the 'Springs of Valcasana' with their natural garden where the water flows peacefully among oaks, pines and box trees: definitely an ideal place for restoring the spirit!
Do not miss to dine at Hotel Del Ponte, for an authentic taste of the local gastronomy based on truffles and trout!

Spello

Spello is a very beautiful medieval village lying on the southern slopes of Mount Subasio right in the middle of the Valle Umbra (Umbrian valley) between Assisi and Spoleto. In the church of Santa Maria Maggiore can be found the beautiful chapel, Cappella Baglioni; painted with frescoes by Pinturicchio in the year 1500.

Trevi

Trevi rises up on a hill dominating the plain between Foligno and Spoleto.
One of the most interesting artistic monuments is the church of St. Emiliano of the 12th century, while the Piazza and the 13th century Town Hall are the focal points of town life. Here numerous events are held during summer and fall such as the Palio dei Terzieri, Scenes of Medieval Life, the Black Celery market (a exclusive to Trevi and grown only locally).
Not to be missed the Church of Our Lady of Tears (Madonna delle Lacrime) half way down the road to Borgo with its frescoes by Spagna and Perugino.
Also be sure to have a wonterful lunch/dinner at Osteria La Vecchia Posta.

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Vallo di Nera

On a high outcrop on the left bank of the Nera River, Vallo is one of the best preserved castles in the Valnerina area, if not of the whole Region.
Still surrounded by strong walls and towers, it retains its original appearance of the 13th century intact. The layout of this town is so peculiar that the cobbled streets wind steeply up the hill as a spiral line.
The whole pastoral tradition of the area is celebrated by the events of the so-called 'Fior di Cacio' in Vallo di Nera every July.
Be sure to eat at 'Locanda Cacio Re' for a typical Umbrian style lunch.

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Visso

This enchanting mountain village in the Marches region is situated just along the Umbrian border. It is called the Perla (pearl) of the Sibillini National Park and it boasts a past rich in history: the imposing city walls, the medieval balconies, the houses, the towers... but above all the magnificient piazza with its 15th- 16th century buildings.

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