Unique Places in Umbria

  • Off The Beaten Path
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  • Off The Beaten Path
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  • Off The Beaten Path
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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Umbria

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    Isola Maggiore

    by magor65 Written Jun 26, 2014

    Isola Maggiore is the only inhabited island on Trasimeno lake. Its population is rather modest, just about 30 permanent residents. This once busy fishing village, today is a tranquil place visited by a handful of tourists.
    One of the island's attractions is the museum of lace. The tradition of creating laces by local women started here in the early 1900's and is still continued today.
    Apart from the museum, tourists often visit the church of St Michael (12th century) on top of the hill.
    The only street of the island is called Via Guglielmi. It is lined on both sides with old houses. The street was named after Marquis Giacinto Guglielmi who bought the island's Franciscan church and monastery in 1880's and converted them into a family residence. Unfortunately, it's closed for visitors because it's in the process of being restored. By the way, it was the marquis Guglielmi's daughter, Elena, who encouraged the women from the island to take up Irish lace making.
    Isola Maggiore is also known as a retreat place of Saint Francis who came to pray here at Lent.
    The slopes of the island are covered by olive groves and some of the trees must remember very old times.
    After exploring the island it's nice to end the day in one of the restaurants, which offer a variety of dishes. I think trying some local products is the best choice. We ordered some fish from the lake and pasta with truffles. We liked it a lot.

    Via Guglielmi a very old olive tree fish from Trasimeno lake
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Italy's Fourth Largest Lake

    by JT0H Written Nov 16, 2012

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    I haven’t seen a poor response to your request - except, maybe the Tuscany recommendations! I live in the Niccone Valley, about 35k north of Perugia. Perugia is a must see and access to the center with the newish funicular railway, is so easy. I agree that Assisi is high on the list too. Edging to some of the smaller towns, visit the centro storico of Castiglione del Lago on Lago Trasimeno or Passignano on the other side of the lake (Italy's fourth largest) are both worth quick visits.
    Ciao, Tim

    Isole Polvese, Lake Trasimeno.
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    Madonna della Stella – fascinating history

    by Trekki Updated Sep 22, 2009

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    This church is an example of a very much unexpected find in the middle of Valle Umbra, away from any village. When I drove from Montefalco to Campello sul Clitunno I suddenly saw this huge church in the distance and wanted to know what it is. I wouldn’t have seen it if it would not stand that much isolated – nothing around but plain meadowns and fields. And when I arrived on the premises, I was amazed of the huge parking facilities and a little shop around the church. Only later (when doing my “post research”) I found out the background of this all. It was a bit difficult as all I found was in Italian only, but “babelfish” helped me to understand what I was reading.

    Madonna della Stella (Madonna of the star) was built in Medieval times and dedicated to Sant’ Bartolomeo. Mid of 19th century, so the story tells, voices of the madonna were heard here and that she wanted this church to be restored. In 1861, a little boy, Frederico “Righetto” Cionchi, son of a poor family, said that the painting of the madonna inside the church had spoken to him but as he was the only one, no one didn’t believe him. However, he insisted that there was a beautiful woman in red dress who spoke to him and walked to the little church daily. One year later, a very ill woman was brought to the church and immediately recovered, as soon as she has entered the church. This was the moment when the locals started to believe the boy and the stories about the madonna and started to restore the church. Righetto became a friar and died 1923. Later, his remains were brought to the church, where many people go on pilgrimage to visit his tomb.
    Next to the church is a little statue (photo 5) in memory of him. It was built at the occiasion of his 100th year of birth in 1957.

    As I didn’t know anything of this all when I saw the church, I must have missed a lot. So in case you are interested to visit this church, be prepared and read the long articles in the websites below.

    apparition of the Madonna,
    story of sanctuary Madonna della Stella

    Directions:
    (it is useless to write down the directions of how I found it as I took the most tiniest roads from Montefalco). On SP451 between Bastardo and Spoleto, near Castel Ritardo, or just before Mercatello to be precise, turn north direction (most probably) Il Piano, Borghetto, San Lucca. You will see the church from the road and there should be a sign as well. It is located on Google Maps, but zoom in as much as possible.
    Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
    42°51’24,30’’N; 12°40’55,49’’E

    Update, September 22, 2009:
    Exact location of Madonna della Stella on google maps

    Madonna della Stella Madonna della Stella, tympanon Madonna della Stella, fa��ade detail Madonna della Stella, fa��ade detail Statue of Frederico ���Righetto��� Cionchi
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    • Religious Travel

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    Fabriano, centre of holy paper (Le Marche)

    by Trekki Updated Feb 27, 2009

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    .. e della filigrana (is the full name of this museum).
    When it comes to pilgrimages, Christians go to the Vatican, Muslims go to Mecca, Buddhists would go to Tibet if it would still exist (and not be massacred by Dragonland) and I go to the cradles of “industrialisation” or origins of handicrafts. So I was thrilled to learn that Fabriano was a very important centre of paper making in the old days and is the cradle of the watermark, which was invented here in 1287. Most logical that there is a museum which is dedicated entirely to paper making and the watermark. This museum was definitely one of the highlights of my central Italy trip in April 2008 and I will definitely come again.
    It is located in the cloister of the adjacent Chiesa del Sacro Cuore in the south of town and seems to be very busy all year long. While I was there (twice), masses of schoolkids were there to learn about paper making. And the employees of the museum are very much dedicated to their exhibits and the history of this magnificent artwork. They speak many languages so you can get tours in English, German, French and Spanish as well.
    The museum has all the old traditional equipment including a hydraulic multiple hammer mill, where the cotton fabric is transformed into the raw material for the paper paste. It is fascinating when they start to operate this mill – 3x3 wooden hammers hit the fabric in slightly different tacts to tear it into pieces and then later into the raw cotton fibres (photographing inside is not allowed, but photo 2 is a similar mill, with only one hammer). The paper paste is then constantly refilled and stirred in huge basins and each group gets a demonstration of how the paper is dipped on the old screens – a masterful skill this is! The workers dip 2 sheets, which are then put on felt and when enough sheets have been made, the stack is being pre-dried in a press. For further drying they are hanged on a specific drying equipment. Now you can imagine that there is a huge daily output of handmade paper, and this all goes into the museum workshops where three very much skillful artists make the most magnificent things, which can be purchased in the big shop.
    But the museum is not only about paper making but also about the invention and development of watermarks. On the upper floor they have a huge exhibition of all kinds of watermarks which were designed and made here, mostly for rulers of the different countries in Europe and overseas and also some of the first banknotes that were made with watermarks as a security feature. Another exhibition describes the steps in development of watermarks, how the picture is engraved in a thick wax plate, how the positive and negative moulds were made and how they have been used to create three-dimensional watermarks.
    In the basement’s courtyard are exhibits of other machines and equipment and a very extensive description of paper history and of course Fabriano’s history in this context, featuring Miliani ‘s paper empire.
    I can highly recommend to visit this museum and if you have similar interests like me, it is easy to spend one full day there. The employees will answer every question you might have and the shop is divine!!
    Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
    Entrance fees: 5,30 € (adults), 4,20 € (student groups), children under 6 are free.

    What must be fascinating as well, but only with prior notice, are workshops on traditional paper making. These are held over 3-5 days (daily 2,5 hours) and cost only 16,50 € per day. Well, there is always a next time and I will definitely go back to Fabriano.

    In the meantime I wrote a separate page about Fabriano.

    Directions:
    In the south of town, leave SS76 where the signs for the museum is.
    Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
    43°20’00,80’’N; 12°54’13,53’’E

    Fabriano, one of the old hydraulic hammer mills Fabriano, old paper making machine Fabriano, wonderful gifts, handmade paper Fabriano, artistic bookmarks, paper museum Fabriano, Paper Museum - the friendly staff :-)
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    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

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    San Leo, tiny hilltop village (Le Marche)

    by Trekki Updated Oct 6, 2008

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    Even if you only drive through Le Marche, you will soon realise that it is full of hilltop castles, villages and fortresses. So why not make a short stop somewhere and explore one of them. A good “somewhere” is San Leo, only half an hour to the west of San Marino Republic. Already when approaching San leo from the east, the huge rock with the roundish castle catches the eye. But it all gets better as soon as you drive (or walk) up the only entrance street to the village. The village is narrow and full with old houses and even two churches, which date back more than 1000 years. San Leo can be easily visited in 2-3 hours (without lunch or dinner). It has two very old churches (parish church and cathedral) and the castle which sits high on the rock. Careful – if you want to visit the castle, you should plan another hour or so, as it has a very interesting museum inside.
    Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
    43°53’48,07’’N; 12°20’37,91’’E

    San Leo, Pieve Santa Maria Assunta San Leo, the duomo's fa��ade with the white cross San Leo, Pieve Santa Maria Assunta (inside) San Leo, delicious lunch in Taverna delle Ghiande San Leo's Rocca - from the east
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    Frasassi caves – huge and magic (Le Marche)

    by Trekki Updated Oct 6, 2008

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    When I was planning my trip to central Italy, I came across a book that mentioned Grotte di Frasassi as the biggest limestone cave complex in Italy and most probably of Europe. It was only discovered “recently”, 1975, and is still being investigated by speleologists. Only 13 km are explored by now, but the specialists believe that the cave stretches out almost 35 km!!
    The caves can be visited only with guided tours, and depending on the physical fitness and interest three different tours are offered: the easy 75 minutes and 1,5 km long tourist route, the 2,5 hours “blue” advanced route and the 4 hours “red” adventurous route with full speleologic equipment (helmet, lamps and rope). I desperately wanted to book the blue tour but it was not possible, as both blue and red tours are only offered when they have enough bookings. So if you are interested in ne of these extended ones, email them to find out when they will be scheduled and plan your trip around this date.

    But on the other hand, the normal tourist route gives already a fantastic insight to the caves. It starts in the huge Grotta Grande del Vento, which is so big (180 x 120 m and 200 m high), that the cathedrals of Milano or Cologne can easily be fit in there. To be in this cave is a bit of illusion and perception – the distances and measures are much bigger than one thinks. We were all amazed when our guide told us how big special stalagmites or stalagtites are in reality, as we all thought they are much smaller. From the huge cave, a path leads through the other parts. All of them have names and it is easily understandable where they come from. There is a fairy tale castle with a witch, there are Niagra Falls, the Ancona abyss, the polar station with a polar bear at the entrance, the labyrinth (yes, easy to get lost), there are lakes and deep holes and all kinds of other stalagtites and stalagmites that inspire our imagination.

    The cave visits are very much efficiently organised. There is a huge car park 2 km to the east, and busses leave from there every 30 minutes before the next tour (so no one can get mixed up with other groups).

    Opening hours: daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; tours are at 10, 11, 12 a.m. and at 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 p.m.
    Entrance fees: 15 € (tourist tour, adult), 13 € reduced (people of > 65, students, speleologists), 10 € (kids from 6-14 years),
    The blue tour costs 35 € and the red tour 45 €.
    The website is excellent, easy to spend hours reading and watching. Even if you don’t have the time, make sure you watch at least the virtual tour. There are videos as well, but it takes ages for them to load.

    Directions:
    From Fabriano, drive along SS76 to the north and exit at Genga Stazione. From there, drive west until you arrive at the huge parking lot.
    Coordinates on GoogleEarth:
    43°24’04,36’’N; 12°57’38,91’’E

    Luciano explores Grotte di Frasassi Grotte di Frasassi, crystal lake Grotte di Frasassi, parking lot + admission house Grotte di Frasassi, parking lot
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  • The best Umbrian exert advice and service availabl

    by umbrianeye Written Jun 13, 2008

    I am new to this forum but want to tell everyone that my good friend Franco. Born in Rome and living in Orvieto has started a travel escort service in Umbria. He is British educated so his English is perfect. He specializes in providing experience that the average travel would not have access to. Email me if you have any questions or are interested in his services. sandy@depictionsoftware.com.

    I just got back from Umbria and can't tell you how great it is

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    Lago di Trasimeno

    by lee.evelyn Updated Apr 5, 2008

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    Visit Castiglione di Lago, or any of the small towns around Lago di Trasimeno. Most of them are members of what they call 'Slow Food' movement! You will not find fast-food outlets in any of these towns only wonderful 'slow cooked' Italian food!

    Lago di Trasimeno, Umbria Lago di Trasimeno, Umbria Lago di Trasimeno at Sunset, Umbria Olive Trees Lago di Trasimeno, Umbria
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    Mozart & Memories

    by NinaRira Written Oct 10, 2006

    For a night out that will always remind you of a wonderful trip to Umbria, treat yourself to a performance at the glorious Teatro Della Concordia in Monte Castello. It is an absolutely tiny theatre that claims to have the smallest interior in the world. Everything inside has been loving restored, with fresco covered ceilings and gold lined, wooden boxes and it even has a small bar that serves intermission drinks and coffees. I went here with a friend to see a night of classical music, where the orchestra gave us an outstanding evening of Elgar, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Because the theatre is so small, any performance here is very intimate and very memorable indeed.

    The Orchestra
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    Lippiano

    by maritagnes Written Mar 21, 2004

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    On one of our little car trips from our base in Monterchi, we found this little village on Umbria side of the border.
    Lippiano boasts a Medieval castle. Our children enjoyed this beautiful fountain with goldfishs in the water, when we visited the sleepy village in the evening.

    Lippiano
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    Ferentillo

    by janchan Written Sep 22, 2003

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    A small, but full of interesting sites, village at just few km from Spoleto.
    To see... the beautiful churches (S.ta Maria a Matterella and St. Stephen), the Abbey of S.Pietro in Valle and the two castles guarding the valley.

    The mummies of Ferentillo
    The crypt of the St. Stephen church in Ferentillo, is unique in Italy for its fenomenon of mummification of the bodies buried there.
    It has been used since the middleage as a cemetery... and now it became a very interesting museum.
    For respect of the holy site... it's not allowed to take pictures inside.

    Ferentillo, Umbria
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    • Historical Travel
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    Spello - another medieval village

    by sierralyndon Updated Mar 3, 2003

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    Spello is another pretty little village in Umbria. The town's gates from Roman times are still standing today.

    To be honest, we forgot our guide book when we went to Spello and so could not do much referencing as we walked around. But there are several ancient churches and other places of interest.

    However, I do remember Spello for its quiet, winding streets, where residents take great pride in decorating their terraces with lovely flowering plants.

    Narrow, winding streets of Spello
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    • Historical Travel
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    • Archeology

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    Norcia

    by sierralyndon Updated Feb 27, 2003

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    Norcia is a village that I would recommend visiting. Compared to many of the other quiet villages in Umbria, there were more "foreign" visitors here. And one clear difference here was the town's love affair with food! Plenty of shops selling local delicacies and products.

    Shop front, Norcia
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    Gubbio

    by sierralyndon Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Gubbio is yet another village that one should try not to miss. What is interesting about this place is its location against a hill and the really nice architecture. Mostly medieval but it spans many other eras, so it is up to you to discover the different styles if you are into that sort of thing.

    Gubbio

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    Bevagna - medieval village

    by sierralyndon Written Feb 24, 2003

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    Bevagna is a tiny village in the province of Perugia, with just over 2000 inhabitants. It is a sleepy little town but quite typical of the area.

    Bevagna is famous for its medieval festival around June, where the whole village goes "medieval" - there will be street performers, the typical foods of the time, typical craftsmen, etc.

    Other highlights in Bevagna include an archeological museum (pity we didn't have time to go there).

    Main piazza, Bevagna

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Umbria Hotels

See all 533 Hotels in Umbria
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Umbria Off The Beaten Path

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