Easily one of the most beautiful regions in Italy, Umbria is the home of serene landscapes and striking views of hillside towns. These images and more have been captured by masters including students of the schools of Perugino and Raphael, both of which were started in the area. The natural beauty and wonder of the area also served to produce some of the greatest minds and most influential men in Western spirituality. Both St. Francis and St. Benedict were born in Umbria and the influences that inspired their faith are still easily found in the region today.
Umbria is the geographical center of Rome and in the center of the region are the bright blue waters of Lake Trasimeno. Visit the lake and know that you are treading about profound history. It was here that Hannibal defeated the mighty Roman Empire in 217 BC. Move away from the lake and explore the castles and fortresses that were built a bit too late to save the Roman Empire, but still offer much in the way of mystery and architecture.
The capital of Umbria is Perugia, and a trip to the medieval city is sure to delight even the most seasoned traveler. The Università degli Stranieri is located in the capital and is a boisterous good time waiting for anyone willing to tackle the multitude of languages and philosophical arguments that dominate any college campus.
Rocca Paolina is Italy’s largest fortress and dates back to the mid sixteenth century. The fortress is open for tours and exploration and is reached by an escalator from the town’s center. Pope Paul III ordered the fortress built to bring the residents of Perugia under Papal power. Fortunately for the feisty inhabitants, Papal rule ended in 1860 and the Perugians immediately claimed the fortress as their own.
Be sure to include the more sedate yet hauntingly beautiful spiritual retreats of Umbria on your journey. While in Perugia, visit the church of Sant’Angelo as well as the monastery of Sant’Agnese. And of course, you should also arrange a visit to the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi Within these quiet walls you can feel the power of faith and spirituality that moved so many religious men and women over the centuries. No matter where you turn in Umbria, you will encounter wonderful works of art, awe inspiring architecture, and, of course, the scenery that inspired it all.