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Homes in Umbria

Arrestingly beautiful landscapes and exquisite medieval hilltowns make this tranquil region an enchanting place. Properties here make a sound investment and the value for money is very good, says Fleur Kinson.

Nestled in the centre of the Italian peninsula, with Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche as neighbours, Umbria is a region of wide rural vistas and captivating hilltop towns. Spacious and leafy, it rightly calls itself ‘the green heart of Italy’. But this heart is no bustling hub or communications crossroads. Instead it is a dreamily serene place where worldly concerns seem to melt away and your mind is slowly drawn towards all that is calm and timeless.

Umbria is often fancifully imagined as Italy’s mystical core, or its ‘soul’ if you prefer to think in those terms. It’s not just the deep tranquillity of the place that invites a sense of transcendence; even the landscape seems physically arranged to lure your thoughts upward. Sensuously rounded Apennine mountains snake down the eastern length of Umbria, while soft hills and valleys undulate everywhere else, making for arresting landscape views that pull your eye across beautiful wide spaces, out to the horizon and up to the sky. The region’s perfect countryside has inspired a thousand paintings, and regularly stops you in your tracks and sets you fumbling for your camera.

No surprise, therefore, that dreamily beautiful Umbria has inspired so many mystics and spawned so many saints. St Valentine was born here. As were Saints Benedict, Clare, Rita and, of course, Francis of Assisi. That’s not a bad haul of divines for such a small and thinly-populated bit of Italy. It should also come as little surprise that Umbria is home to a particularly gorgeous crop of churches and cathedrals. The region’s white, pink and golden stone makes for plenty of stunning old buildings of every kind. In terms of landscape, architecture and fine art, Umbria is a feast for the eyes and mind.

Lovers of the urban whirl should note that this isn’t really a region for them. Umbria offers intoxicatingly lovely countryside and breathtaking ancient towns, but there are no large cities here. No dense traffic, jostling crowds or endless queues (though Assisi can get a bit rammed in the holiday season). The largest settlement, Perugia, is home to fewer than 170,000 people, making it about as populous as Telford or Ipswich. The joy of Umbria lies in its rural spaces and its gorgeous old hilltowns full of decorativelywrought historical buildings.

CALENDAR OF FESTIVALS

Tranquil it all may be, but that isn’t to say there’s nothing going on. Prosperous and well-maintained, Umbria’s settlements enjoy a very lively calendar of festivals and cultural events – many of which attract international clientele. And while Umbria isn’t teeming with traffic, it isn’t remote or hard to get to. The road and rail infrastructure here is good, and there are direct flights to Perugia from the UK. As peaceful getaways go, Umbria is notably easy to access.

The ancient city of Spoleto has a 12thcentury cathedral
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About Italia!

The June issue of Italia! comes to you ready to inspire and inform. Crammed with travel features, stunning photography and delicious helpings of Italian food and drink, it’s a celebration of il bel paese right at your fingertips.