Looking for somewhere to go in Italy that has as much history as Rome or Venice, idyllic green landscapes to rival Tuscany, lakes as stunning as Como or Garda – but not so many tourists to share the experience with? Umbria, the ‘green heart of Italy’, fits the bill perfectly. Underrated and underexplored, the secret is slowly getting out about this region of medieval citadels, rolling valleys and great Italian wine and cuisine. After seeing it for ourselves, this Umbria travel itinerary details how you can experience the very best of this region in seven days.
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What’s in this Umbria travel itinerary?
This Umbria itinerary is based on our own experiences of travelling through Umbria on a camping road trip. We are inquisitive travellers who love to get outdoors, explore new places and immerse ourselves in the local culture, so if that sounds like you too, you’re in the right place!
Our route begins and ends at Perugia, the region’s largest city and main transport hub, but focuses on three sub-regions of Orvieto, Montefalco and Assisi. Here’s the itinerary at-a-glance:
- Day 1 (Orvieto): Arrive from Perugia, afternoon winery visit (with cooking class option), sunset in Civitella Del Lago
- Day 2 (Orvieto): Explore Orvieto, short hike, winery and goat’s cheese farm visits
- Day 3 (Orvieto–Todi–Montefalco): daytime stop in Todi, late afternoon winery visit
- Day 4 (Montefalco): wine hike on La Strada Del Sagrantino
- Day 5 (Montefalco): lunchtime winery visit, explore Montefalco town
- Day 6 (Assisi): explore Assisi town, sunset on Monte Subasio
- Day 7 (Assisi): Monte Subasio hike / alternative winery experiences
As you can see from this overview, we like our wine! You can read more about this on our article about the best wineries in Umbria. Visiting wineries is also a great way to sample the local cuisine, as tastings are paired with fresh food produce. However, the itinerary is totally flexible, so you can include as much or little wine discovery as you like.
For an alternative trip into rural Italy, check out this one-week itinerary for North Italy to explore the beautiful Lake District.
Where to stay in Umbria
In the detailed itinerary below, we give our recommendations on campsites to stay along the route. Camping is a wonderful way to enjoy the nature and fresh air of Umbria, while keeping costs to a minimum.
How to get around Umbria
By far the easiest way to get around Umbria is by car, especially if your time is limited. Although there are some public transport options, bus connections are infrequent, and trains only run between the main towns. This article by Walks of Italy gives some more insight into public transport in Umbria.
We use RentalCars.com to find the best deal on car hire – it’s a great service for comparing local services and finding the cheapest option. We hired a Smart Car for our Umbria trip (which was amazing for the offbeat countryside and cute little towns!), and we paid €129 for a week, including insurance. On top of that we spent another €45 on petrol.
Perugia has an international airport and a train station, and so it’s the ideal hub for beginning and ending a trip to Umbria. The best car hire deals are usually from the airport, but note that it’s not easy to transfer between the airport and the city centre. Buses are very irregular, and taxis cost a set price of €30 (although make sure you have agreed the price with the driver before you set off).
Another useful note is that Perugia’s airport is about the same distance from Assisi as it is from Perugia. If you’re flying in and out, and not planning to include Perugia itself in your itinerary, then you can go straight to/from Assisi easily from the airport.
Umbria travel: a few tips from our trip
In general, Umbria is a very safe place to travel. Outside of the main towns, it’s one of those places where people don’t even lock their doors. As with any destination, however, it’s always best to exercise caution and keep valuables locked up.
What’s more, the people are incredibly friendly and you can expect to be greeted with exuberant charm wherever you go.
Here are a few more things to know before you go:
- Drive carefully. Some roads between towns and villages are infested with potholes. The style of driving in the region can be a little lax, so stay alert on the road.
- If you’re planning to self-cater, Lidl and Eurospin are the cheapest supermarkets. Conad is another reasonable option. We saved a lot of money by stocking up at Lidl and cooking a few meals on our campsite.
- Springtime in April–May is a great time to visit Umbria. Flowers bloom and the temperature is warming up nicely. The summer can get very hot (average 29°C in July and August), which leaves the landscapes browned and less alluring in the rainier autumn months.
- Some of the areas within Umbria have microclimates, and the weather can change quickly. If you are planning to spend time outdoors, come prepared for rain.
- There is a minor risk of earthquakes in Umbria – in 2016, several towns were damaged by one. While it’s very unlikely you’ll experience an earthquake, it’s still wise to read up on what to do in the rare case it happens. Read this guide to the basic principle of ‘drop, cover and hold on’.
Umbria travel itinerary: the details
We begin our itinerary at Perugia Airport. After collecting your hire car, it’s about an hour and 15 minutes’ drive to our first destination, the ancient town of Orvieto.
If you have some spare time in Perugia, this two-hour small group walking tour is a very popular way to take in the main sights.
Stop 1: Orvieto, the Etruscan acropolis
Orvieto stands prominently on a rocky volcanic butte, jutting out from the Umbrian countryside. Its ancient roots date back to the Etruscans, who built a cave system underneath the city. The town is surrounded by miles of unspoiled countryside adorned with hilltop villages, quiet forests and vineyards.
Orvieto is nestled between two bodies of water. To the east is the glistening reservoir of Lake Corbara, and to the west is Lake Bolsena, one of Italy’s largest lakes, which was formed thousands of years ago by collapsing volcanoes.
Where to stay in Orvieto
We stayed for two nights in the Orvieto area at Camping Il Falcone. Perched high above Lake Corbara about 20 kilometres east of the town, it’s a wonderful little base for exploring the surroundings. It has several tent and van pitches, and there are also bungalows available to book.
Camping Il Falcone has excellent facilities on site, including a swimming pool, drinking water, electricity and hot water. From the crest of the campsite you can see down onto the lake, and it’s a short walk from the quaint village of Civitella Del Lago (more on that later).
For more accommodations in Orvieto, browse booking.com or try one of these great self-catered apartments:
- The Paper House – gorgeous two-bedroom loft apartment in the historic centre
- White House Orvieto – one-bedroom apartment with a view, perfect for couples
- True Etruscan Experience – authentic restored house in the oldest part of town
Day 1: winery visit, cooking class option and sunset at Civitella Del Lago
The final stages of the drive from Perugia to Orvieto are abundant with scenery along the shores of Lake Corbara. If you’re staying at Camping Il Falcone, prepare for a winding climb on a narrow road (but with some great views!).
Orvieto accounts for 80% of the vineyard space in Umbria; once you’re all pitched or settled in your accommodation, it’s time to check out one of the area’s top wineries. Decugnano Dei Barbi is located on a beautiful, elevated estate on the site of a 13th century hilltop village. Wine has been made here for seven centuries, dating back to monks who made it for the town clergy.
The family team at Decugnano Dei Barbi run a variety of tours and tastings. There’s also a cooking class available, which takes four hours, with prices depending on the group size.
For a stunning finish to the day, head up to Civitella Del Lago in time for sunset. You can see this cute little hilltop village across the valley from Decugnano Dei Barbi, and it’s short walking distance from Camping Il Falcone.
At the front of the village you will find railings with a perfect vantage point to see the sun descend behind Lake Corbara. If possible, arrive an hour before sunset so you can stroll around the pretty roads and admire the views in daylight first. Once the sun has gone, there are a handful of restaurants and cafés around the village to indulge in some local cuisine.
Day 2: Orvieto, woodland hiking and local goat’s cheese farm
Make an early start in the morning and head into Orvieto. This ancient town has layers of history to explore, from the Etruscan origins to the Roman conquest, and the medieval era through to contemporary times.
For €7 you can take the Orvieto Underground tour into an ancient network of caves, tunnels and cisterns beneath the surface. The 45-minute tour will take you back over 2,500 years into the Etruscan era at Orvieto’s beginnings. Or, for an extra-special day, you can take a private walking tour of Orvieto with a local.
While in town, stop to see the cathedral of Duomo, originally built in 1290, its facade decorated with intricate gold-tinted mosaics and carvings. There are various museums in close proximity to the cathedral, including the Etruscan Museum and Museo dell’Opera del Duomo di Orvieto. On the east side of town, pay a visit to Pozzo di San Patrizio, a 54-metre-deep, 13-metre-wide well dating back to the 14th century.
After a light lunch in town, there should be ample time for a spot of light hiking. Up the hills to the west of Orvieto you will find a beautifully unspoiled area of woodland between the villages of Sugano, Trinità and Rocca Ripesena. There is a four-kilometre hiking trail you can take from west side of Orvieto town up to Rocca Ripesena. Alternatively, if you drive up to Sugano, you can take a short circular route in the forest past a small lake.
This brings us neatly to our suggested next stop: a tour of Madonna Del Latte winery. This homely, family-run winery was built on the site of a historic hilltop estate, transformed from a collapsing building into stunning grounds with lush vineyards. Its cellars are carved into a 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb, harnessing volcanic soil to create rich and spicy wines.
A short drive from Madonna Del Latte you can visit Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano, a small farm that produces goat’s cheese matured under volcanic ash. You can see goats, chickens and other farm animals running around in the yard, and buy some delicious cheese from the shop.
Stop 2: Montefalco, the balcony of Umbria
Montefalco is a typification of Umbria’s charming medieval hilltop towns. A stroll through its stone buildings, old churches and cobbled roads is a little like travelling back in time. From around the town’s perimeter you can enjoy some of the best views of the Umbrian countryside, with towering mountains lingering on the horizon to the east.
The town and surrounding area is also gaining renown for its wine production. It is home to the Sagrantino grape, which can legally only be grown in Montefalco and five surrounding villages. This has given rise to the recent creation of La Strada Del Sagrantino, a cultural discovery trail.
Where to stay in Montefalco
We spent three nights in Montefalco at Camping Pian Di Boccio, about seven kilometres to the west of the town. It’s a large and spacious campsite with a wealth of on-site services, including a shop, bar, restaurant and large swimming pool, as well as the standard amenities. A short walking trail from the site leads into some woodland and a blue-green lake.
It’s a great place to stay for some peace and quiet in natural surroundings, a short drive away from Montefalco’s attractions. If you prefer not to camp there are rooms and apartments available.
For more accommodations in Montefalco, see booking.com or try a fabulous self-catered apartment:
- Perugino – stunning apartment with pool in central Montefalco, up to four guests
- Modern apartment in the heart of Montefalco – with wooden-beamed mezzanine bedroom
- Vicolo Fabbri – stunning spacious two-bedroom apartment
Day 3: stop-off at Todi, afternoon winery visit
The drive from Orvieto to Montefalco takes about an hour, and is split perfectly by a stop at Todi on the way. Another one of Umbria’s medieval hilltop towns, Todi is a lovely spot to explore for a few hours and grab some lunch.
On Viale Di Montesanto, just to the west of the town, there is a large, cheap car park that is an ideal spot for a few hours’ stop. From here you can walk up a steep path into the historic town centre, with some gorgeous view of the valley to the north on the way up. On the south side of the town centre you can see out for miles in the opposite direction. There are benches where you can sit down and enjoy the view – a great spot for a lunchtime picnic.
Piazza Del Popolo is the main square at the heart of Todi. Here you can see Todi Cathedral, the Town Hall, and – if you have time – visit the Civic Museum. Downhill to the west of the town centre is the magnificent Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Consolazione.
The drive from Todi to Camping Pian Di Boccio takes a rural road, rising high over the hills and descending again through forests, passing through sleepy villages along the way. Once you’ve arrived and pitched up, you can either relax and enjoy a restful evening, or head out for a late afternoon winery tour.
Arnaldo Caprai is one of Umbria’s largest and most acclaimed wineries, set in a spectacular 136-hectare estate in the Montefalco area. Its famous 25 Anniversario wine was the result of a partnership with the University of Milan to study the DNA of the Sagrantino grape and discover the best possible production method. Late afternoon is a lovely time of day to see the grounds, and you can stop at the shop for a walk-in tasting.
Day 4: wine hike on La Strada Del Sagrantino
La Strada Del Sagrantino is an official trail that incorporates wine, food and cultural highlights in the Montefalco area.
A scenic hike along narrow country roads from Camping Pian di Boccio leads high into the hills before descending to two of the top wineries along the route.
The first leg is to Cantina Scacciadiavoli; simply look up the walking route from the campsite on Google maps. The eight-kilometre trail begins ascending through woodland, before passing over the arc of a hill through sweeping farmland, with fabulous 360° views of the cultivated Montefalco countryside. Scacciadiavoli emerges into view below as the road descends again, before a short walk along a stretch of main road leads to the gate.
Cantina Scacciadiavoli was founded in 1884 by a prince from Rome, making it one of the oldest wineries in Umbria. It changed hands several times before Amilcare Pambufetti bought it in 1954, and today it is run by the fourth generation of his family.
Scacciadiavoli uses an innovative and sustainable way to produce its wine, harnessing the power of gravity with its production building built in the slope of a hill. You can learn all about its methods and history by taking a guided tour.
The next winery, Cantina Le Cimate, is a 20-minute walk back along the main road and then up a gravelly uphill track. Founded in 2011, this is one of the region’s newest wineries, but is built on a foundation of a long family history in agriculture and viticulture.
Paolo Bartoloni runs the business today after his father gave him 180 hectares of land to develop. He will give you a warm welcome onto the stunning estate, where you can learn about the production techniques, and sample the fine wines and olive oils made on site.
The route back to Camping Pian Di Boccio returns along the same roads as the morning leg, making a round trip of about 18 kilometres’ hiking. When we did it, we spent about four hours of the day hiking and another four at the wineries. Not a bad balance, and to reward ourselves we cracked open a bottle back at the campsite.
Day 5: lunchtime winery visit, explore Montefalco town
On the final day in the Montefalco area, it’s time to explore the town. But first, another winery! Alternatively, you could choose to take the day at a slower pace and have some rest, but if you’re anything like us you won’t be bored of Umbrian food and wine just yet.
Montioni Frantoio e Cantina has been producing wine and olive oil for nearly 50 years, with vineyards and olive groves spread all around the Montefalco area. With the main grounds of its estate located a few minutes’ walk from Montefalco centre, it makes a perfect stop for a tour, lunch and tasting before exploring the town.
Montefalco itself is like a storybook citadel of the Middle Ages, with high walls and gates, cobbled courtyards, and stony towers and arches. A road circles the base of the raised town centre; if you can find a parking space around here, then it’s a short and pretty walk up to the top.
While you’re in town, stop off at the church and museum of San Francesco, and slow down with a coffee at one of the cafés around the main square. And as always, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the panoramic views of Umbria.
Stop 3: Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis
The third and final stop of our Umbria travel itinerary is Assisi, which is perhaps the most iconic of the region’s medieval towns. Built into the lower slopes of the sacred Monte Subasio, Assisi is the birthplace of St Francis, the founder of the Franciscan order, and holds a special place in Italian Catholic heritage.
Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic centre of Assisi is home to some of Umbria’s most spectacular architecture, such as the Basilica of San Francesco, the Cathedral of San Rufino and the grand hilltop castle of Rocca Maggiore. Food and drink is also a very important part of the local culture, reflected in its many boutique shops selling wine, cheese, olive oils, truffles, cured meats and other local delicacies.
Where to stay in Assisi
During our time in Assisi we stayed at Camping Fontemaggio, a large camping complex just outside the town walls to the east. The site is built into tiers of the mountainside and offers great views across the plains and valleys of Umbria. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the town centre, and also well positioned for hiking on Monte Subasio.
Fontemaggio has a range of accommodation options. The site includes a famous hotel, as well as holiday houses and a hostel. There is also a whole host of facilities and features, including a market shop, bar and restaurant, launderette, power points and hot showers.
For more accommodations in Assisi, see booking.com. Alternatively, try a self-catered apartment around the town centre – we picked out these beautiful one-bedroom options:
- Loft in the centre – gorgeous restored apartment close to Piazza del Comune
- Cathedral view apartment – in a historic building overlooking the Cathedral of San Rufino
- Apartment Via San Rufino – on the mezzanine floor of a 17th-century noble palace
Day 6: explore Assisi town, sunset on Monte Subasio
Assisi is a small town that you can explore thoroughly in a day at a gentle pace. With a long and narrow centre, it’s good to start by strolling leisurely through the streets and stopping to admire the grandiose religious architecture. The Cathedral of San Rufino and Chiesa Nuova are the first examples you will reach.
You can take a good couple of hours, with stops at shops and cafes along the way, to reach the Basilica of San Francesco on the far west side of town, and from here you can double back and walk up to Rocca Maggiore. Throughout the town you will find tavernas, trattorias and osterias where you can stop for lunch or a snack.
Finish the day with a drive up to the summit of Monte Subasio for a special sunset view across Umbria. To reach it, simply follow the road that leads to Camping Fontemaggio (Via Eremo delle Carceri) and continue on up the hill.
As you climb and zig-zag, the road gets narrower and dicier, with a deluge of potholes in the upper third, so take your time. Allow at least half an hour for the drive up. You will know you’re at the top when you reach a vast opening with a car parking area and a clear view out across Umbrian plains to the horizon.
This west-facing side of Monte Subasio looks out upon a vast expanse of Umbria, with Lake Trasimeno visible some 50 kilometres in the distance. From the car park you can walk up a short, steep hill with a crater at its summit, where you will find information signs detailing the features you can see on the horizon. A mesmerising way to end the day before driving back down for some more Italian food and wine!
Day 7: Monte Subasio hike / alternative winery experiences
For the final day of our itinerary, we’ve put together a couple of options. We chose to visit some more wineries on our trip, but if you’d rather try something else, there are a multitude of great hiking trails around Monte Subasio.
The classic Monte Subasio trail from Assisi is an 18-kilometre route that is perfect for a long day hike, and the route is shorter if you begin and end at Camping Fontemaggio. There is a total elevation gain of around 850 metres, so it’s a physical challenge that requires a decent level of fitness. Bring a pack-up of food, snacks and plenty of water.
If that sounds like way too much effort and you’d rather spend the day indulging in some more local food and wine, the Assisi area has some of Umbria’s best winery experiences to offer.
SAIO is a winery located just to the west of the town, a few hundred metres from the Basilica of San Francesco. Their visiting experiences are structured in a very different way to the standard tour and tasting routine. You can go on a short vineyard trek finishing with a picnic in full view of the town, with a tasting at the beginning to choose your favourite wine.
Tili Vini is an organic winery on the east side of Assisi, on the lower slopes of Monte Subasio. Wine has been made on the Tili farm for centuries, and the family maintains its age-old tradition of using the most natural production processes. You can learn about the estate’s long history and sample its produce through a variety of sensorial experiences, such as an organic wine and cheese tasting.
If it’s too difficult to choose, you may even manage to fit a visit to both wineries in one day. Why not treat yourself?
More ideas for activities in Assisi
If you still have some spare time in Assisi, these are some of the most popular tours in the town:
- Organic balsamic vinegar, olive oil and wine tour
- Guided Assisi three-hour walk
- Walking tour and St. Francis Basilica visit (small group tour)
- Walking tour and St. Francis Basilica visit (private tour)
- Authentic hands-on cooking class
- Hot air balloon ride with breakfast and wine tasting
From Assisi, it’s about a 25-minute drive back to Perugia airport.
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