Umbria, Italy is a hidden gem in itself. This region has yet to explode like its counterpart, Tuscany. Known as the Green Heart of Italy, you’ll understand why. The region is full of rolling hills, green landscapes, and stunning medieval villages. The food is also unreal. It is definitely a gastronomic foodie destination. In this guide, we’ll review the best hill towns in Umbria, Italy. There are so many hidden and beautiful villages here. Umbria stole my heart and by the end of this post, hopefully, you’ll be inspired to see this amazing region. And the best part is, that Umbria is such an affordable place in Italy to visit.
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Where is Umbria & How to Get There
Umbria is a charming region situated in central Italy. Umbria is landlocked and bordered by several other Italian regions, including Tuscany to the west and the Marche to the east.
To reach Umbria, you can either fly to Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi Airport or the Florence Airport. The Perugia Airport is of course much closer but not all cities fly to it leaving others to arrive in Florence. From Florence, you can get to Umbria in around 2 hours. Additionally, Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is another major international gateway, offering convenient access to Umbria.
Once in Umbria, exploring the region is best done by car as it will allow you to cover the area and visit many small towns with ease. Public transport can be limited otherwise.
🚗 I found my rental using Discover Cars which is a great aggregator site, that will find you the cheapest rates for a car rental.
Where to Stay in Umbria, Italy
There are so many beautiful and unique accommodations in Umbria, Italy. I highly recommend staying in an Agriturismo. Agriturismo is a combination of “agriculture” and “tourism,” and these properties give you a chance to experience rural life in Umbria. They often have the opportunity to partake in activities related to agriculture, such as farming, wine-making, or olive oil production. Agriturismi are known for their rustic charm, scenic locations, and the opportunity to savor.
I’ve collected the most unique hotels In Umbria for you in my blog post: 10 Most Beautiful Hotels in Umbria, Italy
My 3 favorite hotels in Umbria from my personal stay there was as follows:
Castello Di Monterone: A fairytale castle you can actually stay in from the 11th century!
Vocabolo Moscatelli: the works of a Zurich-based couple who dreamed of moving to Umbria and transforming a 12th-century monastery into this stunning boutique hotel.
Tenuta di Canonica is a meticulously restored medieval watchtower situated atop a picturesque hill in the heart of Umbria, just 6 km from Todi’s historic citadel
Best Hill Towns in Umbria, Italy
“Borghi” is an Italian term that refers to small, picturesque, and often historic villages or towns. In Umbria, these “borghi” are scattered throughout the region and are known for their unique charm, historical significance, and cultural heritage. These were my favorite Borghi in Umbria!
Orvieto has a striking hilltop position and stunning medieval architecture, notably the Orvieto Cathedral. The cathedral is the focal point of the town with its intricate façade. From a distance, the facade appears painted but it is actually full of many mosaic designs. You can explore the winding streets of the historic center, visit the fascinating underground caves and tunnels of Orvieto’s underground city, and try the town’s famous white wine, Orvieto Classico.
This town is so charming and picturesque situated in the Umbria region of Italy. It’s filled with medieval narrow streets and ancient buildings. You won’t find many tourists around, only the locals and the occasional cat. You’ll find many panoramic views of the Umbrian countryside, including nearby Lake Trasimeno. Be sure to visit the Civic Museum to learn about the town’s history. You can also get a glimpse into the daily lives of peasants and farmers in the region at the Museo della Casa Contadina, There are many historic artifacts, tools, and reconstructed farmhouses inside. It’s a really beautiful space.
Perugia is the capital of Umbria and is a university city with 2 historic universities (The University of Perugia and the University for Foreigners). It is also known for its chocolate and you can visit the Perugina Chocolate Factory in the city center. There is also a famous chocolate festival called Eurochocolate.
You can find the best viewpoint to see all the beautiful stacked colored houses at Porta Sole. Here you can soak in the nice panoramic landscape of this beautiful hilltop town in Umbria. Some other sites to not miss include Palazzo dei Priori. This grand palace is a symbol of Perugia’s political history and houses the National Gallery of Umbria. It features a remarkable collection of Italian art, including works by Perugino and Pinturicchio. In addition, the Fontana Maggiore is located in the main Piazza. This 13th-century fountain is a masterpiece of medieval sculpture.
4. Città della Pieve
Città della Pieve is known for its picturesque landscapes characterized by narrow alleyways and historic churches. The Church of Santa Maria dei Bianchi is a must-visit. It is adorned with the works of Pietro Vannucci, also known as Perugino. Perugino is a famous Italian artist known as the “best master in Italy.” You can see many pieces of his work at the Perugino Museum in Città della Pieve. Also, don’t miss the narrowest street like the second photo above! This street is known as “Kisswomen Alley”. It is 45 cm wide. The 2 homes wanted to separate due to a dispute so they built this tiny alley between the homes. If you lean from the adjacent windows you can kiss. Lovers also kiss as they walk through!
Assisi is one of the most famous towns in Umbria. This is because it is the birthplace of St. Francis. It is a significant pilgrimage destination attracting visitors from all over the world. That being said, the highlight is seeing the stunning Basilica of St. Francis. There are also so many charming streets as well as panoramic views of the Umbrian countryside.
Todi is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture. That includes the Piazza del Popolo with its beautiful palaces and the Todi Cathedral. Head to the top of the cathedral, climbing the 150 stairs to enjoy panoramic views of the city. At sunset, you’ll want to check out a secret viewpoint (pictured on the right above) next to the Cinema Nido dell’Aquila. The scenery is simply breathtaking here.
Spello is famous for its beautiful floral displays during the Infiorata festival. The festival normally takes place around June. The streets resemble flower carpets during this time! Many intricate flower petal designs are created during the festival. Things to do here include walking the charming old town, admiring the frescoes by Pinturicchio in the Baglioni Chapel, and tasting some of the traditional Umbrian dishes at one of the many restaurants.
Spoleto is another medieval hilltop town in Umbria, Italy. It features a spectacular Duomo dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and built in the 12th century. There are these moving walkways called people movers that take you up a steep incline and you end up at the top of the entire city. Here you can witness beautiful views of the town and see the ancient aqueduct built in the 13th century, possibly on Roman foundations. You can also explore the Roman Theater here too. This small town is a great hidden gem to add to your travel list.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the best hill towns in Umbria, Italy. This region is absolutely stunning and deserves to be explored extensively!