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Where to Stay in Umbria

Pauline Kenny

The reason that I am writing this section, when you can get all the details of a region in guidebooks, is that I feel that guidebooks sometimes tend to make everything sound like it is of equal charm and beauty. This is my (very) opinionated view of Umbria. You may disagree with me - if you do, I invite you to write down your opinions and I will publish the best ones here as opposing views.

Umbria is a wonderful region of Italy to visit. It is my favorite region after Tuscany. It is somewhat less touristed than Tuscany, has lots of very good art, good regional cuisine, lots of vacation rentals, lovely hill towns to visit. It does not have a coastal region and do not be fooled by Lake Trasimeno. This is more of a swamp than a lake and is not good for swimming or boating.

The most interesting parts of Umbria to stay in are:

  • Near or in Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco
  • The area south of Lake Trasimeno - Panicale, Paciano
  • Near or in Spoleto
  • Near or in Todi
  • Near or in Perugia

Spello, Bevagna, Montefalco

This is a perfect location for a first time visit to Umbria. We spent a week in Spello in fall 2000 and really enjoyed it as a base for exploring Umbria. Spello is a good sized town. Bevagna and Montefalco are smaller. Any place in or near these towns would be a good location. You can easily to get to Assisi, Perugia and Spoleto from this location. The towns in the immediate area are great for exploring. Foligno is the more modern, built up town in the valley below Spello.

Panicale

This is a perfect location for a first time visit to Umbria. The area south of Lake Trasimeno is lovely. Panicale is the main town here. It sits high on a hill overlooking the region. There are lots of good towns nearby to explore. The road from Panicale to Perugia can be fast moving and busy and the area around Perugia is very busy.

Spoleto

This is a perfect location or a first visit to Umbria. Spoleto is a good town to use as a base. It is a large town with many restaurants, caffes and stores. The countryside around is beautiful.

Todi

This is a perfect location or a first visit to Umbria. Todi is smaller than Spoleto, but is still a good town for a base. You can get into central Umbria, southern Umbria and southern Tuscany from here.

Perugia

A nice sized town, centrally located for touring Umbria. Read more about it in Perusing Perugia.

Amelia

Ameilia is a charming town in southern Umbria. Good for a day trip or to base yourself for a week to explore southern Umbria and Lazio.

Northern Umbria

The area north of Lake Trasimeno has many vacation rentals but in my opinion is not the best place to base yourself. You will end up doing a lot of driving to get to the places you want to see. Umbertide, Montone and Citta di Castello are the main towns in this northern region. I do not recommend this region for the first time visitor to Umbria. If you do want to base yourself here, I think the area further north near Montone or Citta di Castello is the most interesting. From there you can get into eastern Tuscany easily.

Assisi

Assisi is a beautiful town but is packed with tourists and "pilgrims". It might be one of those over-touristed towns that are nice to be in during the evening when all the day trippers have left, but you will be dealing with crowds of people during the day. I do not recommend staying here. Better would be to stay in a nearby area or town.

Lake Trasimeno

The northern edge of the lake has several nice small towns that are busy in summer. Off season the towns on the lake can feel deserted. My favorite part of the lake is to the south and east. Panicale is a wonderful town - we spent two weeks there in 1999 and liked the area. In 2002 we are booked for a week in a small town on the eastern edge of the lake. This is a pretty area and you are close to Perugia.

Castiglione del Lago is a nice town, but the countryside west and north of there is flat and boring.

The lake is not very deep and is marshy. It is not good for swimming. There are a few islands you can visit by ferry, but I did not find them to be that interesting.

Resources

Slow Travel Italy - Trip Planning - Guidebooks: There are many excellent guidebooks for Umbria.

Slow Travel Italy - Travel Notes - Umbria: See our travel notes for Umbria

Slow Travel Italy - Trip Planning - Maps: See the list of Regions and Communes of Umbria.

Bill Thayer: Bill Thayer runs an excellent web site with tons of information on Umbria.

www.umbria.org: Umbria

www.bellaumbria.net: Umbria. Hotel listings and more.

www.umbriaonline.com: Umbria Online, in Italian

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