10 Fascinating Facts about Umbria
Often seen as the green heart of Italy, it’s easy to see why more and more people are looking to visit the region of Umbria each year. Here are ten interesting facts you may not have known about this beautiful region, so you know what to expect before staying at one of our luxury villas in Umbria.
1. Umbria is home to many UNESCO sites
These include Assisi, the church of San Damiano, L’eremo delle Carceri, the Santuary of Rivotorto and its historical landscape, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Palazzo del Capitano, the church of San Salvatore in Spoleto and the Tempietto del Clitunno. We suggest you visit these significant sites as they will be one of the highlights of your trip.
2. Before the Roman age, the language of Umbria was Umbrian
Every region of Italy had its own distinctive dialect, and this language was one of the Italic languages that had ties to both Latin and Oscan.
3. The region is home to ancient olive trees.
The olive tree of Villastrada is believed to be around 2,500 years old!
4. Umbria is the only Italian region to not have a coastline or border with other countries.
This, along with the endless country scenery, won the region its title of “The Green Heart of Italy”.
5. Umbria is a region where tradition, fairs and celebrations still hold significant meaning to the locals.
The festival of the Ceri is considered the most important festival in Umbria,and it is held in the town of Gubbio. On the 15th day of May three teams, each devoted to patron saints St Ubalso, St Giorgio and St Antonio, run through the cheering crowds that gather in the town in their distinctive and traditional wear of yellow, blue and black. The run takes them from the main square in front of the Palazzo dei Consoli up much of the mountain that resides in Gubbio. Each team carries the statue of their saint that is mounted to a wooden octagonal prism, weighing around 280kg.This tradition has been going strong since 1160! The festival is both a celebration of devotion and history of the Umbrians.
6. Umbria claims to have invented Valentine’s Day
Although there are many legends about the origin of the special day, Umbria is adamant it descends from the Saint Valentine Basilica in Terni. The story is a heart-warming tale of love, that started in St Valentine’s garden of beautiful flowers, which he used to give as presents to his visitors. Two of the visitors to his garden fell deeply in love and got married; their love was told to be so epic that it inspired many other couples to fall in love.
7. Umbria is also known as the wine region of Italy.
The most famous winery in Umbria is the Lungarotti Winery that sits near the border of Tuscany. The winery was responsible for the the first DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) of the region, as it ramped up the production and quality standards in the 1960s. The DOC label on wine ensures a certain quality is being met. The winery pays homage to the region’s traditions with a wine and olive oil museum and a foundation for the land’s agricultural traditions.
8. Perugia may look like a little medieval village but it’s a hub for knowledge.
One of the oldest Universities resides here, having been established in 1308. It is also home to the biggest University of study abroad students in Italy.
9. Assisi is probably the most visited city in Umbria.
This is because it is the birthplace of two very significant saints in Italian history: Saint Francis and Saint Clare. This city is one of the main destinations for pilgrims each year. If you are visiting Assisi, you should visit St Francis’ Basilica and Saint Clare’s churches.
10. The Marmore waterfall is an impressive, artificial waterfall that was created by the Romans, to drain water from the river Velino.
It stands at 165 metres tall and is in a stunning location, surrounded by lush greenery. The Marmore waterfall is a few kilometres from Terni so if you’re close to the town don’t forget to visit this spectacular sight.
Want to learn more about this wonderful region? Why not take a look at nine hidden gems in Umbria?