One of the few landlocked Italian regions, Umbria likes to think of itself as Italy's green heart. In spring the countryside is splashed with the red, pink, yellow, purple and blue of wildflowers, and in summer it explodes with the vibrant yellow of the sunflowers harvested to make cooking oil. The rolling mountains of the Appennini in the north and east descend into hills, many capped by medieval towns, and eventually flatten out into lush valleys along the Tevere river.
St Francis was born in Assisi in the east of the region, and after his death the town was transformed by the construction of St Francis' Basilica and its stupendous frescoes. Perugia a short distance west and the region's capital, is a stunning city that enjoys a lively nightlife fired by the city's university for foreigners.
Spoleto's internationally renowned Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) the beauty of the Valnerina area in Umbria's south-east, and Lago di Trasimeno, the Italian peninsula's largest lake, are all poweful added attractions.
Umbrian cuisine is simple, and most dishes contain only three or four ingredients. The tartufo, a type of truffle, is used in sauces and pasta and rice dishes. Umbria's funghi porcini are truly delicious; they can be added to pasta or rice, but are best eaten as "steak" - an experience not to be missed. Umbria offers many agriturismo holiday possibilities. Several organisations can suggest destinations, and the APT in each town has a list of farms.
City: Perugia, Terni
Surface: kmq 8456
National Parks:Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini (1990).