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Italy’s Umbria region to the north of Rome and east of Tuscany is full of hidden treasures waiting to be explored. Despite charming hilltop towns, rolling green vineyards and wineries for miles, it remains a bit of a secret. Travel blogger and journalist Alex Trembath joins us to reveal his best discoveries from his week exploring the countryside and tasting wine!
If you’ve been charmed by Tuscany, or love to explore beyond the obvious, Umbria is a region we suggest you explore. Umbria is best known for Assisi, birthplace of St Francis and a UNESCO listed site visited by pilgrims and tourists alike. But beyond this famous town there are many enchanting experiences to be had in this lesser known region of Italy.
Alex shares his experience of a week exploring Umbria visiting wineries and hiking mountain and lakeside trails with his wife and business partner Lisa. They visited several towns and wineries in the region, each with a unique history, perspective and relationship to the surrounding terrain.
You’ll hear about picnic spots and viewpoints with vistas for miles, long lunches savoring wine with local families, the best way to get around Umbria and how to plan your time there. By the end of this episode you’ll be wondering how you can make a trip to Umbria happen sooner rather than later.
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What you’ll learn in this episode
- Why Umbria is a great place to visit if you love wine and the outdoors
- How to explore the area on your own – best transport options
- The best wineries to visit in Umbria
- Umbrian towns to explore
- Where to go for some of the best views of the Umbrian countryside
- Wine varieties to try when you visit
- Accommodation options in Umbria
- Itinerary ideas for your visit
About our guest – Alex Trembath
Travel enthusiast and content creator Alex Trembath is one half of the couple team behind Career Gappers, a blog that inspires and prepares people to take travel career breaks. He is a passionate advocate for taking extended time out from work to recharge, develop professionally and discover new passions. An experienced journalist, he has edited award-nominated magazines and written on travel and the benefits of career breaks for platforms including Thrive Global, Matador Network and Thought Catalog, as well as featuring on BBC Radio.
Alex and his wife (and business partner) Lisa Pool have travelled extensively together throughout Europe, South America and beyond. After becoming enraptured with the world of wine discovery on a journey through Argentina, they spent time in Umbria exploring the local wineries, lush countryside and medieval citadels of the ‘Green Heart of Italy’.
You can find Alex on these channels:
- Career Gappers – blog
- Umbria articles: best wineries in Umbria | 7-day Umbria itinerary
- LinkedIn – personal / blog page / group (new)
Places mentioned in the show
- Towns: Orvieto, Assisi, Montefalco, Perugia, Civitella Del Lago, Spoleto, Todi
- Rocca Maggiore – castle in Assisi
- Monte Subasio – the mountain whose lower slopes on which Assisi is built, great park for hiking
- Basilica of San Francesco – famous old church in Assisi
- La Strada Del Sagrantino – cultural route around Montefalco
- Orvieto Underground – tours of the cave system in Orvieto
- Lake Corbara – lake near Orvieto
- Lake Trasimeno – lake near Perugia
Wineries and farms
- SAIO Assisi – (the winery that does the trekking and picnic)
- Tili Vini – small organic winery near Assisi
- Montioni winery – Montefalco winery where the owner drove us around the grounds
- Scacciadiavoli – winery built on hillside with sustainable production
- Arnaldo Caprai – large winery in Montefalco area that does walk-in tastings
- Madonna Del Latte – winery near Orvieto surrounded by forest land
- Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano – a goat’s cheese farm near Orvieto which you can visit and buy AMAZING cheeses from the shop
- Camping Il Falcone – campsite on the hill above Lake Corbara near Orvieto, walking distance from Civitella Del Lago
- Fontemaggio – campsite, hotel, hostel, restaurant complex just outside Assisi on the hillside
Resources from Untold Italy
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
- Driving in Italy – a practical guide
- Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian and British accents however!
Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie and I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy. Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips, and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes, and a whole lot of pasta. We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about travel to Italy. Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show now. Let’s get started on your regular dose.
Ciao everyone. In this week’s episode, we are visiting the beautiful Umbria region with our guest, Alex Trembath, a travel blogger from website careergappers.com based in the UK. They help people take extended career breaks by sharing their experiences and helping people build their own itineraries for longer trips. Alex and his wife, Lisa spent a week exploring some of the wine regions and towns in Umbria and he’s joined us to share what they learned on their travels. Umbria is Italy’s most central region found to the North of Rome and East of Tuscany. It’s a popular place to visit for people who love wine, food experiences, pretty towns and exploring the outdoors. I’m sure there’s going to be some great ideas for future trips of our own. So let’s get started. Ciao. Welcome Alex to the Untold Italy podcast. Thanks so much for joining us.
Alex Trembath (01:40):
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Great. Alex Igave our listeners some insight into your background earlier, but perhaps you can tell us something about yourself and how you came to be in Umbria.
Alex Trembath (01:51):
Okay. Yes. So I would say primarily it’s a love of wine that brought me to Umbria. So together with my wife Lisa we are the cofounders of Career Gappers, which is a blog about travel, and career breaks. We took a year out of work ourselves to travel three years ago now nearly. And we spent quite a lot a long time on the wine route in Argentina and we fell in love with wine discovery, visiting vineyards, learning stories about about how wines made and the people who work in that industry. And so after we returned to the UK, we wanted to do more of this and we planned a trip to Italy a year ago. And we loved what we heard about Umbria. The traditions of local wineries, wineries, the long history of wine making in the region.
Alex Trembath (02:49):
And the fact that it’s a kind of a quieter version of Tuscany almost. It sounded more up our street than to go to somewhere that’s busier. So that’s the primary thing that brought us to Umbria, but also the, the draw of the outdoors, the rolling Hills, the the cultivated land, getting outside and doing some hiking. We camped as well in Umbria. So we love being outdoors. And it met our expectations and more. We absolutely love the place. We spent a lot of time meeting the people who run several of the local wineries, but we also devoted time to exploring some of the more offbeat Hilltop citadels and little villages in the countryside. And it’s just a beautiful part of the world that we could return to again and again. So that was what first drew us to Umbria anyhow.
Oh, wonderful. How long did you spend there?
Alex Trembath (03:55):
We spent a few weeks in Italy last year and it was just over a week spent in Umbria. And as I say, we focused on the rural areas mainly, but we did get to spend some time in some of the historic towns that are more renowned. For example, Assisi and Orvieto. And we had been planning to return to Perugia later this year to to try out the Umbria jazz festival. Hopefully more plans on the horizon there as well.
I know Alex, I was supposed to be in Perugia too in March, so we can all commiserate on that. So did you have a specific town that you used as a base to explore or did you go around a few different places?
Alex Trembath (04:42):
Well we had three separate bases. So there was a few days in each. We based ourselves first around Orvieto but we were staying just outside a beautiful campsite called Camping Il Falcone which has a view down onto Lake Corbara, which is just outside of Orvieto. And then we pivoted ourselves in Montefalco, which was my personal favorite part of Umbria. It is perhaps the balcony of Umbria. It’s like a hilltop medieval town, fairly central in the region where you can see out across pretty much the entire region. And then Assisi, we spent a few days there as well on the slopes of Monte Subasio. So they were kind of our three pivots that we used for our trip.
Wow. That sounds, that sounds great. I love the hilltop towns because I like the opportunity to just wander around and soak up the atmosphere. So what can you tell us a bit about each of those? I’m really interested in Montefalco because that sounds really lovely actually.
Alex Trembath (05:44):
Okay. So I’ll begin with Montefalco. I guess I’ll start talking about the wine in the area because something that’s particular to Montefalco code is La Strada Del Sagrantino, which is the local wine route. But it’s also a cultural trail of hiking and local food. And it connects various sites around the region around the Montefalco area. And Montefalco is famous in the wine world for being the, the place where the sagrantino grape is grown and cultivated. In Italy it is only grown in Montefalco and five surrounding villages. It’s hardly grown anywhere outside Italy. And one of the wineries actually told us that within Italy it’s illegal to grow the grapes outside of Montefalco itself.
Alex Trembath (06:43):
I haven’t been able to verify that by following up research. I’ve tried to find it, but I haven’t found out whether that’s actually true, but it’s certainly mainly produced in Montefalco and the surrounding area. And so we visited some wineries around Montefalco on that on that cultural route that specialize in producing this grape. But then, so for example, there’s also olive groves, beautiful rolling farmland. And the town itself, Montefalco is typical to the region. It’s one of these hilltop old citadel towns. When you arrive in Montefalco, there’s kind of a ring road that circles around the main hill, which you can, you can park up and then walk up to the top of the hill. And then there’s a main square where it’s lots of these traditional like coffee shops and trattorias where you can just sit outside, enjoy the sunshine. And then just a short walk from there, all the way around the town, there are kind of balcony viewpoints where you can just look out on the rolling countryside and the mountains in the distance. Yeah, it really is a fabulous place to explore.
Well it sounds like it has everything and I’m sure they have delicious food there too. Do you know if they have any specific dishes to go with that beautiful wine?
Alex Trembath (08:09):
Well actually one of the wineries we visited was Montioni where they served a special bread that they produce there and the local olive oil that they produce at that particular winery. It was absolutely fabulous. But we had a lunch there where we were served also a type of local omelette. Which was kind of unusual because we didn’t come across that anywhere at any of the other places that we visited. But yes, the olive oil in particular, I think for the Montefalco region because they’ve got these ancient olive groves and yes that’s something I would say you should try when you visit.
So this is one of the most amazing things about Italy isn’t it? You go to these beautiful towns and you visit the wineries and they’ve got olive groves and all sorts of different foods that you can try. And you sit down with the winemakers. Did you meet any particular winemakers there that you got to know a little bit?
Alex Trembath (09:18):
Yes, certainly. So one I would pick out. So there is a winery called Scacciadiavoli which is one of the wineries on the Strada del Sagrantino. So on thing that’s so great is learning the individual stories about each of the wineries and the food they produce as well as the wine. But each place has its own methods of production and its own interesting history and story to tell. And the thing that was great about Scacciadiavoli is it’s a couple of kilometers outside of Montefalco, but it’s built into a hillside. And they’ve kind of streamlined the winemaking process so it’s entirely self sufficient and sustainable. So they harness the power of gravity. So each stage of the wine making process happens on a different level of the building and then it’s fed down to the next level.
Alex Trembath (10:09):
And it’s all powered by solar panels as well. So the entire process is self self sufficient and sustainable. And the winery itself has a very interesting history because it was founded by a Prince from Rome in the late 19th century which makes it one of the oldest wineries in the area. And then it changed hands several times before the current family bought it in the 1950s. And it’s just one of these places where the family live on the site. They live and breathe the business. And it was one of the members of the fourth generation of the family called Lou who showed us around. And she was telling me how her, and I think one of her brothers, they left for a while to go and study elsewhere. I think she studied in France and one of her brothers went to Milan. But then they came back to the winery because they still maintain this passion for the land, and for the family business. And you can really see that in everything that they do. And so we had a lunch there where we tried some of their great wines, but also they gave us a meal. They served traditional dishes – fish and chickpeas, salads, roast pork, lots of antipasti as well. And that was fabulous just to enjoy that while we were hearing their story. And I think that we visited four wineries around Montefalco, but the thing that they all have in common is that everyone is just so friendly and welcoming. Most of the places we visited were family run businesses, but they’re always very happy to welcome you into their home and it’s almost like you’re part of the family. And that was really beautiful to experience.
Sounds great. Alex, how did you find these wineries? Did you do a lot of research on your own or did you have some help with that?
Alex Trembath (12:08):
We just mainly did research in advance. A lot of reading up online, reading some guides and then we reached out to the wineries that sounded the most interesting and were the most highly rated. And had a very strong response. I think more than 50% of the wineries that we contacted just replied and said, yes, we’d love to have you come, come and see us. And that was lovely. So I spent a lot of time reading about it and then it was a joy to experience.
I think it’s really one of those interesting things because in Australia and in the U S in particular, like you can actually just turn up to a winery and do some tasting, but it’s a little bit different in Italy, isn’t it?
Alex Trembath (12:58):
That’s right. So one of the wineries called Arnaldo Caprai near Montefalco is probably the biggest one in the region. That was the one that was a little different from the others where you can just do a walk in wine tasting. But as you say, many of the others, you arrange experiences in advance and you come in, you have a meal or you do a tasting. But it’s quite a different experience to what I’ve had elsewhere. For example, in Argentina many of the wineries we visited, having the food was not such an intrinsic part. Like we did tastings where it was just you go in, you do the tour, you try the wine. But at every single winery we went to in the Umbra region, having the food was such an intrinsic part of the experience. Even in the walk in wine tasting at Arnaldo Caprai wine is served with a plate meat and cheeses and other wineries we visited, it was having a full meal with a family. It was just an integral part of the whole experience.
Well, that’s my favorite part actually. They’re so friendly aren’t they? And they just want to explain about the winery and as you said, every one is so different and they’ve got a different story to tell and it really stays with you for a long time. I think. Was there another winery that really stood out for you in that area?
Alex Trembath (14:29):
In Montefalco – I mentioned Montioni. This was our favorite for the wine itself. And since being back in the UK, we’ve ordered a crate from them that we had over Christmas last year, which was really nice. But when we arrived there, the actual owner, Paolo Montioni drove us around the whole estate in his in his Land Rover, I think it was. They had vineyards and olive groves spread all around the area. And they had an olive grove situated on one of the highest points in Montefalco where you could see out across to Assisi to Lago Trasimeno and to Perugia in the distance. And this guy was just wonderful. He drove us around the whole estate.
Alex Trembath (15:16):
He welcomed us in and there were kids running around in the tasting room while we were having a meal. And they have a wine that they only produce 700 bottles of each year. It is their signature wine handpicked from the best grapes in their vineyards called Sagrantino Ma.Gia. Some of the wines in the wineries only cost five or six euros, and they’re still wonderful to drink. And the premium wines like that Sagrantino Ma.Gia I think was 50 euros for a bottle which for us is a very special treat. We wouldn’t usually stretch to that kind of budget, but as a treat we had to try it. So Montioni, Scacciadiavoli and Arnaldo Caprai were three of the wineries we visited in that area. And as I say, you can hike around some of them on this route. We stayed at a campsite called Camping Pian Di Boccio which is by a lake. You can hike to the wineries from there and into the town and it is not too far out.
Wow. It sounds like a great adventure. I’m very jealous of it actually. And what I’m really interested to know is are they red or white varieties or are they both? What do they specialize in, in Umbria?
Alex Trembath (16:39):
Well there are two signature wines for the region. There’s one red and one white. Most of the wine at the tastings we went to, were usually maybe 80% red wine and 20% white wine. And so for the red wine, the signature grape is certainly in Montefalco is the sagrantino. Sangiovese is also a very common red wine in the area. In terms of white wine, Umbria grechetto, which is quite a crisp, dry white wine is the kind of the signature white wine for the area. We certainly experienced it all around everywhere we went in Orvieto and in Assisi. So there is a focus on red wine, but the grechetto wine is lovely too.
Oh, that sounds great. And so when you were talking to the people in this part of Italy, how much Italian did you need? Did you need to speak a lot of Italian or were you okay with the basic words?
Alex Trembath (17:41):
Well, we speak very little Italian. We learnt a few phrases, but in in general it was fine to get by certainly. And most of the restaurants or cafes or shops or wineries and most people who work in the tourism industry have at least some English. And as the nature of people is just so friendly and welcoming, it’s easy to get by on body language and gestures if there’s, if there’s any difficulty with the language as well. So we didn’t find that it was too much of a drawback. Perhaps there was less English spoken than in other areas of Italy we’ve explored but it was easy to get by without being able to speak the language fluently for sure.
Okay. And you mentioned you were camping, so you were obviously driving and getting around by a car or was it a campervan?
Alex Trembath (18:38):
Car, yes. I mean you can travel around by train to the main towns in the region. But we hired a smart car, which was great because there’s lots of narrow winding lanes. And if you really want to get off the beaten track and explore and go off to the small villages and go up into the valleys and hills you really do need to have your own transport. So we hired a car. But it depends on the nature of your trips. There is a train line that connects for example, Perugia, Orvieto and to the South of the region, Spoleto and Todi. So all these towns are connected by train, but the train journeys are quite slow. I think there’s onlya few a day. There are buses to get around, but they’re very infrequent and not the most reliable from what I’ve read. But having the freedom to have your own car will really maximize what you can experience. But in Perugia and Assisi, you could spend a few days in those two towns and see the beautiful architecture, the churches, the museums and still have a really immersive experience without getting out into the countryside. So it really depends on what you’re seeking. But I would recommend the car for anything longer than a few days at least.
Right. Good to know. And so tell us about Assisi
Alex Trembath (20:07):
So this is perhaps the most iconic of the citadel style towns in the Umbria region. It’s built into the lower slopes of Monte Subasio. So you have this gorgeous view across across the whole region. Assisi itself is a very historic town. So it’s the birthplace of St Francis who was the founder of the Franciscan order. And the town itself is kind of typified by these beautiful old churches. For example, on the west side of the town there’s the Basilica of San Francisco, which is I think the biggest of the churches on the hilltop just above the main part of the town. There’s a giant castle or the ruins of a castle called Rocca Maggiore which you can walk up to. And from the castle you can see down onto the town and the surroundings.
Alex Trembath (21:07):
And it’s a fairly short walk from the town itself. The main square of Assisi is the hub of activity. It’s got all of these outdoor trattorias and osterias and cafes where you can just sit outside in the sunshine. It does get quite busy in the town square. So we like to spend a little time there, but then walking around more of the outskirts, discovering some of the quieter areas. But yes, it really is a charming place. And the place we stayed there was again a campsite, but it also has a hotel and a hostel which was Camping Fontemaggio . It’s only a few minutes walk, maybe 20 minutes walk from the gates of the town.
Alex Trembath (21:59):
But the campsite is built into the slopes of the mountain. So it’s got this beautiful setting in layers of the hillside. But there’s also quite a famous and large hotel onsite and a restaurant and a hostel as well. There’s many different accommodation options there. And that was probably the favorite place that we stayed in the whole trip. It really was a beautiful setting.
Lovely. And what about the wine there?
Alex Trembath (22:25):
Right. So we visited two wineries in the region. Both of them were wonderful experiences in their own right. So one of them was a place called Tili Vini , which is a small organic winery, just to the East of Assisi. It’s a place where I think you need your own transport to get out to. But it’s this small organic winery. And we were really lucky that we we visited Tili Vini on Easter Monday and the family invited us to this big banquet with a whole family where we had several courses. And the main course was a roast lamb. And this meal just kind of went on for hours. So before we started the meal two of the women in the family, I think it was the grandmother and the aunt, were making and rolling the pasta and showing us how it was done. And before that, we went out onto a truffle hunt into the countryside where the specially trained dogs will sniff out and burrow into the ground to find the truffles, which we then took back and they chopped up. And we had the truffles on a pasta. Truffles are a particular delicacy. Obviously they are widely available around Italy, and in Assisi in particular, they are very popular there. So it was very nice to have that experience of of of going on the truffle hunt and having the truffle pasta at this winery. And when we did the tour of the grounds at Tili Vini, they explained to us how that farm for centuries had been used for making wine. They’d only started commercial production in the 1970s. But there was this rich history of making wine throughout the ages. And then after we visited Tili Vili, we went to a place called SAIO Assisi which was a completely different experience. In fact very different to any other winery that we went to in the area.
Alex Trembath (24:38):
So the way that they structured their tour that we did there was that you did you started with the tasting. I think the typical format in many of the wineries that we visited and also elsewhere was that you arrive, you do the tour and then you finish with a tasting. But what was different at SAIO Assisi was that we began with a tour and then the focal point of the experience was that we did some wine trekking. So we trekked around the gardens and it’s all kind of mapped out. They give you a map and each point and explains what goes on in this particular vineyard or this particular piece of land. And then you finish this at a place where we had an outdoor picnic. And the reason you do the tasting at the beginning of the experience is that you do the tasting, and then you choose your favorite wine from the tasting. And then at the end, the woman from the winery met us at the picnic point and she brought out this all this food and the wine that we’d selected. And this winery is on the lower plains just below Assisi. So the place where we had the picnic was under a shelter but on the edge of a vineyard. You could see up to Assisi and you could also see this huge cathedral in a neighboring village as well. So it was a really beautiful, beautiful setting. I did wonder when we were planning our trip to Umbria, is it going to get repetitive if we’re visiting so many different wineries. But every single one that we visited offered a different type of experience and this was a great example of that.
Oh, I really want to do that picnic. I’m frantically writing it down. We’ll put it in the show notes, everyone, because I think that sounds absolutely amazing to have a picnic overlooking those beautiful views. Amazing. It’s the type of thing that you dream of when you’re planning trips to Italy, I think. Well I do anyway. So that’s Assisi. But did it get any better when you went to Orvieto? Because I actually have been to Orvieto and I loved, loved, loved it. And I wonder what your experience was there.
Alex Trembath (26:59):
I’d just like to make one last point about Assisi that I forgot to mention and I didn’t want to leave it out. I mentioned that it was built into the slopes of Monte Subasio. So it’s a mountain and you can drive up to the top of the mountain at sunset or you can hike. There’s a return day hike as well, but you can drive up to the top of the mountain and there’s just an absolutely spectacular view. And if you’re in a Assisi, I would highly recommend that. If you spend a day exploring the town and then go up to the top of Monte Subasio at sunset, it is really a beautiful way to end your day. So I just wanted to add that in there as well.
Alex Trembath (27:41):
So Orvieto was where we started our Umbria adventure. And like you, we love this place. And so what really makes this stand out is that you can see Orvieto from miles around because it’s built on that kind of outcrop of volcanic rock. So for miles around you can see it kind of jutting up. This a beautiful old city built on the top of a piece of volcanic rock. And from what I understand, Orvieto dates back to the Etruscan civilization. Which is sometime between 2000 and 3000 years ago. And the people of the day built this cave system underneath the town, which you can go and explore. I think it only costs seven or eight euros. You can take a tour exploring these old caves underneath, underneath the town.
Alex Trembath (28:30):
And again, Orvieto is where 80% of the wine of the vineyards in Umbria are. So you’ve got this beautiful hilltop town, but then it’s just surrounded by miles and miles of valleys and vineyards and so it’s just beautiful scenery but just completely unique. And it’s just fabulous to explore. So you can go into Orvieto and explore, the caves and there’s an ancient well on the East side of the town as well. That’s another very interesting point to visit, but then you can go on hikes as well. So just to the west of Orvieto one of the wineries we visited there called Madonna Del Latte is surrounded by forest land and you can hike up from Orvieto to there. Or, if you’ve got a car, there’s a beautiful kind of circular hiking trail that you can do around the area.
Alex Trembath (29:34):
What else would you like to know about Orvieto?
Well, when were you there? Alex?
Alex Trembath (29:39):
Right. So it was April. And the spring time I think is a particularly beautiful time to visit the Umbria region because the flowers are blooming. The weather is just getting warm. You’ll see the vineyards in bloom and it’s also a little bit quieter at that time as well. Whereas later in the year, the heat can become a little bit more oppressive in June, or July. And because of that in the autumn months, then the scenery goes a bit brown because of the effect of the sunshine through the summer. So the springtime really is a beautiful time to visit. And that’s why we planned our trip there for that time because we’d researched that. And in Orvieto in particular, you can really see that with those vineyard views.
Yeah, absolutely. I believe a lot of wildflowers come out in the spring time that can just be absolutely stunning.
Alex Trembath (30:36):
Yes, that’s right. And it’s another kind of point of the scenery around there. And just outside Orvieto is one of the small little villages on a hilltop is called Civitella Del Lago. So we stayed just outside there. We stayed on a campsite called Camping Il Falcone, which is up on the hill, you can see down onto Lake Corbara, which is a large reservoir just outside of Orvieto. And Civitella Del Lago is a lovely little village where they’ve got these little cafes, overlooking the countryside. Let me just get the the name. I think it’s Caffe ‘ Umberto and it’s a really beautiful place where they serve food as well. And again, if you go there at sunset they’ve got these viewpoints, where you can look down onto the lake which is really beautiful. I think you can see to Lake Trasimeno too in the distance from there. But so Lake Corbara, when you drive to Orvieto from Perugia or from Montefalco, you will drive all the way past the Lake Corbara. So kind of the, the road hugs the side of the lake, which is really beautiful. But if you turn off to the left, just before you get to Orvieto is where it climbs up to Civatella Del Lago and it’s this kind of precarious winding road up the Hill. Or there’s an alternative route as well. So another lovely hilltop town I’d mention is called Todi. So the drive between Orvieto and Montefalco is about an hour. So this town called Todi breaks that out perfectly because it’s about halfway between. And again, it’s a little bit bigger than Civitella Del Lago, but there’s a very famous cathedral or Basilica just outside Todi which is a nice point to stop. I think there’s a car park right there. And then you can walk up to the town. And again, very similar to Montefalco as well. You can walk all the way round. There’s beautiful valley views. We spent a lovely few hours there just exploring. There’s a couple of really nice museums in the town center. And lovely viewpoints on the outskirts of the town where you can have a picnic. Montefalco and Orvieto were wonderful places. We loves spending time there, but also part of the beauty of Umbria, for us anyway, was these smaller villages and towns so that you can stop off in between and have these experiences.
And you were there for a week. Was that enough?
Alex Trembath (33:12):
It was. We managed to do a lot in that time. We would like to have explored more. So for the places that we visited that was a lovely amount of time actually. But for example, I think a lovely two-week itinerary would be to combine that with spending more time in Perugia. And you mentioned Lago Trasimeno. So another thing we had been planning to do is you can do a hike all the way around the Lake and stop off at the little villages around Lago Trasimeno. And there’s also an island in the middle of the lake – Isla Maggiore. And I think if you combined maybe a few days at Trasimeno and Perugia with around a week visiting the places that I’ve been talking about, that would I think be a really ideal amount of time to spend in the region.
I know it’s so hard to choose where you’re going to stay in places. Usually you really have to narrow it down and then you always regret not spending enough time. I do anyway, when I went to Orvieto, I actually went for the day. You’ll probably think this is a little bit crazy, but when you’re coming from Australia we do some of these crazy things. So we actually stopped off in Orvieto on the way through from Rome to Florence, which obviously wasn’t enough time, but if you had maybe two or three days, what would be the absolute highlight that you would not miss in the Umbria region?
Alex Trembath (34:40):
So right. Personally I think if you have two or three days, I would certainly incorporate Assisi. My personal choice would be to try and see Assisi and Montefalco and perhaps maybe visit one of the wineries in Montefalco. And Assisi has just like a little bit of everything. So you could combine some of the the beautiful history of the citadel, of the buildings, the architecture and the castle, but with also some of the countryside. You’ve got the, the hike to Monte Subasio and also some wineries. So if you’re short of time, I think Assisi is a really good place to focus on for a combination of those things. If you prefer kind of the countryside and if you want to make the countryside and the outdoors more of a focus perhaps Orvieto because again, you can combine some of the history and the town with the surroundings. I mean it does depend on what your preference is and what your reasons are for visiting the region. But I think Assisi is a good all round choice.
Okay. That’s great. We try and talk about this a lot on this podcast. You really have to work on what your interests are, but it sounds like if you’ve got an interest in outdoors and wine and in food and history, there’s something there for everyone in Umbria. I’m very much looking forward to going there myself and I would just love to spend weeks exploring there actually. Now, Alex, I’ve really enjoyed chatting to you about these beautiful region of Italy today. Before we wrap up, how can our listeners stay in touch with you and your work and do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Alex Trembath (36:27):
Sure. So please feel free to stay in touch. So our blog is called Career Gappers and you can find us at careergappers.com. We’re on all the main social media platforms. If you just search Career Gappers, that’s our handle on, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Obviously like pretty much every travel blogger out there, our plans have been disrupted. So, as I’ve mentioned, we were planning to return to Italy. We were going to Sicily and hopefully to Umbria later in the year. But those plans have been put back. So at the moment we’re working on some content to try and help people have travel experiences from home and also kind of bigger picture dreaming and planning. And if you do like wine, wine discovery is one of the things that we encourage people to try out on the career break because it’s just something that you can find a new passion for in life.
Alex Trembath (37:19):
So that’s something that we’re planning to continue producing content around. And also we like talking about the value of taking extended time off work to travel and how that can benefit you. So if you’re interested in that aspect as well as destinations, but also the benefits you can get out of travel and how you can maximize it, that’s something that we’ll be continuing to talk about. Because whether or not whether or not restrictions are in place, you can still talk about those things and it’s something that helps with dreaming for the future as well. So yeah, if that sounds interesting then hit us up. That’d be great.
Well, I think we are all in need of a few dreams at the moment. I know I am. So thank you so much. Grazie mille for sharing your insights into beautiful Umbria and I can’t wait to get there myself and discover all the places you’ve mentioned. Thanks again for joining us.
Alex Trembath (38:12):
No problem. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, exploring beautiful Umbria. If you have a topic suggestion or would like to share your own trip, please reach out and let us know. You can find our contact details and information about Alex’s website, careergappers.com Plus details of all the places he mentioned in the show notes at untolditaly.com/19 for episode 19. And don’t forget to subscribe to our show on your preferred podcast player to get all the latest episodes as soon as they are released. Ciao for now.