Last month, Citalia’s Social Media Executive, Rob Kearsey, journeyed through Umbria and Tuscany, experiencing autumn in two of Italy’s most scenic regions. He tells us about one of his most memorable days on the trip – and how you can recreate it.
Italy is one of the densest countries in the world. Around every corner, over every hilltop, there’s always something to see. That is certainly the case for Umbria, a region of central Italy. Sometimes you’ll need to pack several locations into a day just so you can see as much of Umbria as possible. Luckily, a lot of the best locations are quite close together, so you can plan a great itinerary without spending all day in the car.
One itinerary you’ll be able to do in a day is Lake Trasimeno, Montefalco and Assisi, three locations that are all within an hour of each other.
Start your day by visiting one of the little towns on Lake Trasimeno. During my trip, I went to Castigilone Del Lago, but you can see the lake at towns like San Feliciano and Panicale, too. The lake itself is a beautiful sight at any time of day, with a large array of wildlife (I spotted little geckos and herons) and magnificent views of the three islands that sit on the lake.
Currently the only island that’s inhabited is Isola Maggiore, where St. Francis of Assisi, one of the patron saints of Italy, lived as a hermit for Lent in 1211. A monastery was later built on the island in his honour and the grounds of that monastery were turned into Guglielmi Castle. Sadly the castle has fallen into disrepair, but there are reportedly plans to turn it into a luxury resort. Even without the castle, you can still walk around the island and explore the little churches and buildings that date back to the 14th century.
If you want even more St. Francis, the next stop on your Umbrian day trip is the place that shares his name, Assisi. Sitting on the western flank of Mount Subasio, the town’s main attraction, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, is a distinctive sight as you approach the town.
Built in 1228 and awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000, the Basilica is an awe-inspiring structure up close, while the inside is full of beautiful frescoes and the crypt of St. Francis, where monks and pilgrims pay their respects to the saint. Once you come out of the Basilica, you’ll be treated to classic views of the Umbrian countryside.
As it’s probably lunch time, you’ll be looking for a bite to eat. Luckily, there is a huge array of restaurants and pizzerias as you go further into the town. There are also plenty of ice-cream shops if you want a little treat before you head off to your final location, Montefalco.
While Assisi is always busy and bustling, Montefalco is quiet and unassuming. The town is famous for its wines and even has the nickname ‘Cita del vino’ or ‘City of Wine’. You won’t be able to go more than a few yards without walking into a wine shop and sampling the local red. If you want to bring home souvenirs of the alcoholic variety, this is the perfect place to pick them up. Not only can you try before you buy in most shops, but you’ll also get little cardboard boxes to put your wine bottles in and keep them safe for the journey home.
One of the main churches in town is the Church of Saint Augustine, a tiny church that is a complete contrast to the grandeur that you’ll have seen earlier in Assisi. The frescoes inside haven’t been repaired, but that only adds to its charm.
After you’ve spent some time in the church, head up to the Palazzo Comunale for some dinner and a chance to reflect on everything you’ve seen during the day.
If you’re a bit tired, don’t worry – bed is not far away. A lovely hotel, the Villa Pambuffetti, is located just outside of Montefalco’s Old Town, meaning you won’t have far to go to rest your head and prepare for another day exploring Umbria.