July 7, 2020
We are often asked what our favorite destinations for the best cooking vacations are, and as I explained in our recent video (see below!), that…Read This Post
Why don’t more Americans travel to Umbria on an authentic culinary vacation in Italy? Long one of our favorite destinations, it has never gained quite the popularity and name-recognition of its neighboring sister, Tuscany.
Although I’m selfishly tempted to keep Umbria a secret, our job is to help our clients find unforgettable, authentic experiences, and Umbria remains one of the most beautiful, satisfying ports of call. So we have compiled a list to answer the question: why visit Umbria?
From the accommodations to the restaurants to the people, the fact is that Umbria is one of the least touristy regions of Italy. The locals are warm and unassuming, and easy to meet in the many gorgeous medieval towns and city centers.
2. Food and Wine
Olive oil, wine, and truffles: Umbria is known for all of these. A fertile region traversed by the Tiber River, Umbrian cuisine is in general rustic and embraces the fresh grains and distinctive pork cultivated in the area, as well as the game found in the region’s many forests. Among Umbria’s culinary capitals are Norcia, known for its sheep’s-milk cheese, pork, and truffles, and the well-known wine areas of Montefalco and Orvieto. Personally, some of the best food I have eaten in Italy has been at homes and restaurants during my travels in Umbria. (Want to experience this first hand? Check our our cooking vacation in Norcia.)
3. Natural Beauty
Umbria is geographically a mix of pastureland, forests and dramatic hills (particularly in the east, near the Apennines). The result is a spectacular, rustic, green landscape lovingly preserved. As mentioned above, the lush forests of the area provide a home for the many types of game that find their way to the Umbrian table. For families or travelers wanting a cooking vacation in Italy that includes more vigorous forms of exercise than trekking through churches, Umbria is like a large, green park waiting to be explored.
See two of our favorite Umbrian recipes:
4. Cultural Sites
And speaking of trekking through churches…. Umbria does not have a large metropolitan center, but boasts rather of a collection of smaller towns and cities (Spoleto, Perugia, Orvieto, and Assisi, to name a few), each lovelier and more interesting than the last, with some of the most beautiful medieval and Renaissance art and architecture in the world. Its many historical and artistic sites include Etruscan and Roman ruins, medieval churches, and religious meccas such as the birthplace of Saint Francis, Assisi. The region is also known for its many festivals, including the world-renowned Spoleto music festival.
5. Location, location, location
Located as it is in the exact center of Italy, Umbria is easy to get to. And although you can spend a month in Umbria and still not see all it has to offer, it is also a perfect jumping off place for those wanting to explore the rest of the country. Take a walk in the Umbrian hills one morning, and in the afternoon take a quick train to Florence of Rome for a bit of sight-seeing. Or, for the more adventurous soul, rent a car and explore.
So, why visit Umbria? Because it is a region as beautiful and interesting as any we offer. Discover the beauty of Italy with a cooking vacation to Umbria: whether you want to try your hand at truffle hunting, pasta-making or cooking wild boar, Umbria will not disappoint!
By Peg Kern