If you know anything about Italy, you’ve likely at least heard of the region of Tuscany. Tuscany is considered the crown jewel of Central Italy and the fourth-largest region in the country.
If you plan to visit Tuscany, you may think of masterpieces from Botticelli to da Vinci. Beyond Renaissance art and medieval architecture, Etruscan tombs at the Necropolises of Sovana speak to the long history of innovative civilizations in the area.
Outside of the big cities like Florence or Pisa, tourists covet the panoramas of sunflower fields and cypress trees rising along the dirt roads. Charming medieval towns perch atop sunny hilltops. It’s all quite spectacular.
I’ve explored the Tuscan countryside in search of delicious food like traditional pici pasta and great wines like the famous Super Tuscans. It’s easy to find the aromas of Chianti or Sangiovese grapes present in wine shops, restaurants, and cafes around the tiny towns and historic piazzas.
In a country where secrets feel few and far between, Umbria still feels like a hidden gem. That might be because of its relatively small size and proximity to the overshadowing Tuscany.
It’s every bit as lovely – perhaps more! The landscape unfolds before your eyes rather than being revealed all at once. Golden grasses shine in the fall, and fragrant truffles hide in the soil of the fertile woodlands.
Umbria is a region of pilgrimages and great food, quiet artistic triumphs, and authentic culture. And when it comes to beauty, history, and culture, it can match pretty much anything neighboring Tuscany has. Tuscany may be known in Italy as the “Art Palace,” but Umbria is the “Green Heart.”
From a small Etruscan necropolis in Orvieto to a Roman aqueduct running through Perugia, history feels more connected with daily contemporary life. Time seemingly slows down in Umbria’s ancient villages, with mazes of cobblestone streets winding through these picturesque towns.
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