Umbria: “The Green Heart of Italy” – Travel copy

Title: Umbria: “The Green Heart of Italy”umbria-holland-italia-events
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UMBRIA – “The Green Heart of Italy”

It’s hard to take umbrage with Umbria: It’s darn near perfect. Dubbed the “Green Heart of Italy,” Umbria is the only region of Italy with no coastline, no shared border and no particular place to go. It’s not that the world has passed it by, exactly; rather, it’s the world the way it should be: unspoiled, unhurried and staggeringly soulful.

Here, strolling aimlessly is an art, and a-strollin’ you’ll want to go—over green-carpeted hills and through steep, narrow streets that wind their way beneath ancient hillside villages perched high enough to make you dizzy in love. In Umbria, what’s not to love? Lush landscapes, hand-rolled linguini, La bohème, lingering at long family dinner tables with ample Italian grandmothers (who no doubt hand-rolled the linguini dough), and caressing a real Italian cappuccino on the palazzo with friends is the stuff life in Umbria is made of.

As evening falls, the centuries-old Italian tradition of la passeggiata begins. Simply put, it’s “exercise light”—a slow stroll through the main streets dressed in your Sunday best. (Inside tip: If your idea of “best” is fanny packs and shorts, it’s wise to at least pretend you’re not a typical American tourist. Instead, take a “when in Rome” approach.)

A Chain of Cities”It’s Positively Medieval

The region of Umbria consists of a spider network of ancient hill towns such as Assisi, Perugia, Cortona and Arezzo—all well-endowed with ancient artifacts, museum masterpieces, monasteries and expansive views, compactly arranged within easy distance of one another.

Besides soul-warming landscapes and medieval times, Umbria offers plenty for the luxury-minded visitor who wants the best of both worlds: a rich sense of ancient history dating back to the Roman Empire (Italy as a nation was founded in 1871) combined with a full array of sensory indulgences that will make you wonder how you could ever go back to “normal” life.

Get Thee to a Nunnery—or to a Monastery

Start with the monasteries. Let Rome have its Vatican, Venice its canals, Tuscany its museums filled with more Medieval and Renaissance art than you can view in a month of Sundays. While religious art has left its indelible imprint on all of Italy, including Umbria, here, holiness is more solitary and serene. More than a few famous saints were born here, the most notable being: the original animal whisperer, St. Francis of Assisi; cloistered CEO, St. Benedict (who practically invented the word “monk”); and the holy man who singlehandedly made Hallmark a going concern: St. Valentine.

Today’s Umbrian monasteries hold fewer self-flagellations and a lot more wine cellars—not to mention spas, massages and fabulous farm-to-table restaurants. Outside of the monasteries, stellar cellar tours abound, with “uncommon” common regional wines finally finding favor amongst wine snobs and rivaling the glitzy accolades of neighboring Tuscany’s vineyards

Truffles, Frescoes … and Chocolate.

Unique to the Umbria region is the age-old tradition and family business of truffle hunting. Through rain, sleet or snow, specially trained dogs do go, sniffing their way through dense forests to ferret out Umbria’s world-famous funky fungi, black truffles. Can’t abide truffles? No problem. Chocolate, the great equalizer, is also an Umbrian staple. Tour Casa del Cioccolato, the famous chocolate factory in Perugina, home of Italy’s most famous chocolate candy, Perugina Baci. Be prepared: It’s an eye-bulging, mouth-drooling, sin-sensational experience only rivaled by—well, nothing. Caveat? Each piece of Baci is wrapped up in silver paper adorned with blue stars and containing a unique “love message.” Ah, amore—it’s so Italy!

After your fleshy indulgence of chocolaty goodness—Italian style—it’s time to get spiritual again. For that, you only need to take a pilgrimage to the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi, home of St. Francis of Assisi’s tomb and one of Italy’s most renowned works of art—a series of 28 vibrant and colorful frescoes depicting St. Francis’ remarkable life.

Of course, vacationing in Umbria isn’t all about frescos and food. Some will want (make that need) a little more activity to work off all that rich food—besides strolling, sauntering and sipping the world’s best caffè, served as it should be: not in a paper cup (sorry, Starbucks), but in a porcelain demitasse cup or “tazzina.” (If you can’t get a good cup of coffee in Italy, you’re doomed.)

If Turrets Could Talk

More serious aerobic exercise is easily found at Lago Trasimeno, Italy’s fourth largest lake that spills over to Tuscany (not literally of course.) This 49.42 square miles (128 km) of inky blue—bordered by a visual botanical feast of olive groves, vines, oak and cypress trees—offers an array of water sports, such as surfboarding, canoeing, and waterskiing. Also dotting the lake region’s landscape is yet more medieval history: Hannibal (not Lector) squashed the Roman army here in 217 BC, leaving in its wake on the lake with numerous military fortifications. If only turrets could talk.

More serious aerobic exercise is easily found at Lago Trasimeno, Italy’s fourth-largest lake that spills over to Tuscany (not literally of course.) This 49.42 square miles (128 km) of inky blue—bordered by a visual botanical feast of olive groves, vines, oak and cypress tress—offers an array of water sports: surfboarding, canoeing, waterskiing. Also dotting the lake region’s landscape is yet more medieval history: Hannibal (not Lector) squashed the Roman army here in 217 BC, leaving in its wake on the lake, numerous military fortifications. If only turrets could talk.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Finally, when you’re all tuckered out from a day of traversing “warm, living and palpable” Umbria and want to avoid the soulless trappings of a hotel, spend your nights Italian style by renting a private villa or other luxury vacation rental. Greet the morning with a cup of cappuccino on your very own spacious veranda while gazing out at the “teeming softness of the great vale of Umbria,” as writer Henry James once penned. His first encounter with Italy, particularly the Umbria region, inspired him to write some of his greatest literary works, among them “Daisy Miller” and “The Wings of the Dove.”

Frequent travelers to Umbria agree: having “your own private Umbria” is the only way to truly imbibe the spiritual solitude of this beatific region without having to embrace a monastic lifestyle. The saints would approve.

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About seekandfind

I'm a strategic storyteller/copywriter who is divinely wired to be idea-driven, strategic minded & cause motivated.

3 Responses to “Umbria: “The Green Heart of Italy” – Travel copy”

  1. Great post Jenni. Italy steals my heart! I’d love to get into travel writing. How did you start?

    • Thanks for the kudos! It’s hard to answer your question though. I’ve been a writer for 25+ years and just stumbled into travel writing. I used my first gig to parlay myself into other similar gigs. Went back to other kinds of writing for a long time and only in the last six months returned to travel writing. I’m afraid I don’t have any specific advice to give you. You have talent, that I can see, so I would research the subject as much as you can, practice your craft and pray for doors of opportunity to open. Even a small one can lead to something else down the road. You just never know. Sorry I can’t be more specific. 😐

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