Assisi

The Umbria Region of Italy

Umbria is a great region of Italy next to the more famous and crowded Tuscany. It is home to many great small cities worth a visit. Some of the cities we love are:

  1. Perugia
  2. Assisi
  3. Orvieto

Perugia is home to Italy’s famous Chocolate, Perugina. You can tour the factory outside of Perugia. Perugia itself has a wonderful historic center with some great hotels and restaurants.   If you are driving, the roads are very narrow and tight. Don’t try to bring a larger car into this area. There is great parking at the foot of the hill leading to the historical center. Escalators take you up the hill.

Assisi is home to Saint Francis. It is a wonderful hill town. The Saint Francis church there is a huge double church (one one top of the other) and the crypt houses his body. His original small church is inside a large church outside Assisi. Both are worth a visit.

Orvieto is a wonderful hill town with great views of the surrounding area. You can take good train service from Rome to Orvieto. Across the street from the train station is the Funicular that takes you up the hill to Orvieto. The cathedral here is massive and has frescos that tell bible stories. The food and wine here is wonderful.

Now walk these three cities with us in our YouTube video below:

– George

Categories: Assisi, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Funicular, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Towns, Trains, Tuscany, Umbria, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tuscany & Umbria Fun

In 2015 we took a week-long trip through some interesting cities of Tuscany and Umbria. This is a hilly area of Italy and the cities are hill towns with narrow streets and lots of stairs. It is Italy and the friendliness of the people and quality of the food and wine comes through.

The video below is an introduction to my Italian city videos.

 

Our trip was several weeks long but the first week was in Tuscany/Umbria and the rest was at our home in southern Campania. We flew into the Rome airport, Fiumicino, and rented a car.  Our itinerary was:

  1. Perugia – Chocolates – See are YouTube Video below
  2. Assisi – Home of Saint Francis – See are YouTube Video below
  3. Cortona – Home of Under the Tuscan Sun – See are YouTube Video below
  4. Montepulciano – The famous wine city – See are YouTube Video below
  5. Siena – Home of the famous Horse Race Il Palio – YouTube video coming soon
  6. San Gimignano – My favorite city anywhere – YouTube video coming soon
  7. Florence – Home of Italian art – See are YouTube Video below

There are so many more cities in this area worth seeing but we were limited to a week and wanted to spend time in Florence.

Perugia

This is home to the famous Italian chocolate Perugina. It is owned by Nestle now but in Italy it is made the original way with not as much sugar. The American version is sold with much more sugar. This small town has an old city center with very narrow streets that barely fit a car. See the video below for how narrow these streets actually are. As in most Italian towns, life takes place outside. Piazzas are places to sit at a bar or restaurant outside and enjoy and observe life around you.

Assisi

Assisi is a small hill town in Umbria that was home to Saint Francis and the Franciscan Monks. It is above all else an Italian city. The food and wine are great. Eating is done outside in piazzas and narrow streets. In our video we caught an Italian wedding as we were seated outside at a restaurant. You never know what will happen next but it will be fun and interesting.

Cortona

OK, we all know Cortona from the book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes made this small town popular to tourists from all over the world. The city is high on a hill in Tuscany overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Frances Mayes has her real home here as well as Bramasole, the home used in the movie. Walk with us through this wonderful city in our YouTube video.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a famous Italian red wine city (by the same name). Here you can walk a wonderful hill-top city and drink this and other great Tuscan wines. We stayed at a great hotel outside the city called Borgo San Pietro Hotel Cortona. You can see this city and the hotel in the YouTube video.

Siena

This video will be available on YouTube on Monday January 30th. This is a larger city with a great old center that has a huge piazza that is used twice a year (on July 2 and August 16)  run a famous Italian horse race, il palio. People crowd into the center of the piazza and horses race around them. Mud flies and everyone has a fun time. Outside race times the piazza is a place to meet friends and family and sit and relax in the sun. The border of this piazza is loaded with bars and restaurants. The food is good but they are very touristy which means high prices.

San Gimignano

This video will be available on YouTube on a Monday two weeks after the above Siena video. San Gimignano is by far my favorite city anywhere. It is a walled hill city with two main gates. It has been preserved in time from its medieval beginnings. You will notice The famous town homes that help protect families from invaders. In medieval times there were 72 of these homes measuring as tall as 70 meters (230 feet). Today there are only 14 surviving towers. Tourists have found this city and with tourists came tourists stores like Gucci but it is a great town to walk. Get off the main two streets and see the real town.

Florence

Florence was the center of the renaissance and brought art, style, architecture and culture to medieval Italy. Books have been written about Florence. It is a very large city and one of Italy’s main cities. You come here for food, wine, views and art. In our YouTube video we walk around Florence and show you great museums like the Uffizi. Florence has something for everyone. Spend some time here and get to know the city and the people.

Enjoy your travels and enjoy your life…

– George

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Cortona, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lakes of Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Saint Francis, Saint Peter's Basilica, San Gimignano, Siena, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Uffizi, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Montepulciano, Italy

Montepulciano is music to the ears of wine drinkers. I know it is music to my ears. It is a hardy great Italian red wine named after this small mountain town. In this town and the surrounding area you can taste and purchase great Montepulciano wines. Tuscany is a fantastic wine-producing region of Italy. It has become world-renowned for great red wines. Walk around Montepulciano and stop in an enotecca to taste the wine.   Maybe stop at a bar for something to eat and some wine. You may be rewarded by a medieval parade as we were (see video below).

Watch our VLOG video on YouTube (Below) and walk this small mountain town with us. If you are planning a trip to Tuscany, stop by here and enjoy Italian life in a small town.

The streets are small and narrow and there are stairs but this is a great town. We stopped at a bar in the main piazza and had something to eat and some wine. Sit and watch Italian life all around you. OK there are also tourists. Just erase them from your mind’s eye and focus on the locals. They are the well dressed people speaking Italian.

We wandered all over this town and in the very back corner found a wonderful small shop that sold a man’s art works. We met him, spoke for an hour and bought one of his paintings for our place in Italy. He is in our video above. Look at his smile. These people are very happy and live a good life. Maybe it’s the wine … who knows?

Montepulciano is near Perugia, Assisi, Cortona, Siena and Florence. Include it in your Tuscany vacation. You do not have to be a wine drinker to enjoy this romantic city.

I truly wish that all of you could visit this town in real. If you can not, visit it with us in our videos on YouTube (above). If you enjoy the video, please like it and subscribe to our channel.

Visit small and large Italian cities with us in our videos on YouTube. Our Italian series has many great Italian cities to see.

– George

Categories: Assisi, BLOG, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Romance, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Assisi, Italy

Assisi was the home town of Saint Francis of Assisi. He started his religious sect in a very small church outside of the city. Today that church still exists inside a Cathedral called Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.

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If you go to Assisi, a stop here is a must. Inside the town, at one end, is the Papal Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is two churches on top of each other and a crypt below them. In the crypt is the body of Saint Francis.

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As you walk the streets of Assisi, you see many touristy shops selling memorabilia of Saint Francis. It is a big business here. Assisi is also a typical Italian small city. It has lots of small narrow streets and stairs. Parking is in lots on the outside of the city. The lots are numbered so remember where you park.

Assisi is in Umbria near the Tuscan border. The popular cities of Orvieto, Perugia and Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun) are not far away. A visit to this area of Tuscany or Umbria should include a stop at Assisi. You can walk the town and visit both Basilicas in several hours.

Watch the YouTube Video Above

– George

Categories: Assisi, Church, Cortona, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Parking Garage, Perugia, Saint Francis, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Churches of Italy

Italy is famous for many things but its churches are old and magnificent. They are not just churches but art galleries, studies in architecture and beautiful places to visit. They provide a cool atmosphere from the hot sun. The frescoes are wonderful to study, telling of story of days long gone. Every city has at least one church. They may be called Chiesa, Catterdrale, Basilica or Duomo.

Do not pass up a chance to visit one of these marvels. Look at the floors, the splendor of its height, the walls and stained glass windows. Look for frescoes and tapestries. The alters are magnificent. The organs are fantastic and even the pulpits can be ornate.

Below is just a sampling of churches from some big and small cities around Italy:

 

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Duomo Florence

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Duomo Cortona

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Duomo Siena

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Assisi Cathedral (in Assisi)

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Church in Assisi

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Saint Francis (Outside Assisi)

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Pantheon Rome

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Church in Castelnuovo Cilento (Campania)

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Saint Peter’s Basillica – Vatican City

Post your pictures of your favorite Italian churches in the comments below.

George

Categories: Assisi, Campania, Castelnuovo Cilento, Church, Cilento, Cortona, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bella Perugia

Perugia is a small town in Umbria known for its chocolate (Perugina). It is the capital city of Umbria and is very near the Tuscan border. It is also close to the wonderful city of Assisi. The Tiber River flows through this city to Rome.

This is a town that invokes a lot of emotion for me. As Jo Anne and I walked this town, we were thrown way back in time. It started on the escalator  from the central parking garage to the old city on a hill. The escalator is underground going up through old ruins. If this is your first glimpse of Perugia, it will be a lasting memory.

duomo San Gimigano

Ruins seen on escalator

As we exited the escalator and building contains its terminus, we were in a small piazza in Perugia. Life was exploding all around us. As in any Italian town, life is vibrant. Motorcycles were all around us and loud. Small and larger cars were everywhere. As I looked out at the parking around the Piazza, I was reminded of my youth playing with cars. It appeared the cars were randomly placed by some giant all around the Piazza. Cars faced both directions and some were so small they could just park backed in-between two other cars.

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Parking

Italian was being spoken loud and with passion all around us. Hands are a big part of the Italian language. I am finding I use my hands more and more as I speak. It must be contagious. Life here is very visual. You can not help be emerged in it.

From the Piazza we walked down a set of stairs away from the hustle bustle of automobiles and into a restricted driving zone. Here there maybe be and occasional car or motorcycle but it is mostly pedestrians and tourists. These streets make you feel like you are in ancient times. The architecture is fantastic. Buildings almost touch each other with narrow roads in between. These roads would be impassable to large vehicles. Some passageways I can touch both sides with outstretched arms.

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Narrow roads everywhere

Walking along these streets gives a sense the buildings are closing in on you. Soon we were out in another Piazza. Life was again happening all around us without cars or motorcycles. Restaurants with outdoor seating were everywhere. Italian life is about being outside with other people. So we picked a place and joined in.

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At a bar/Restaurant in a Central Piazza

From our table we could nourish ourselves and partake in this age-old tradition of Italians. For a day we were becoming locals. We already knew we would miss this place when we had to leave. But for now we were here and enjoying life to its fullest.

In the movie Benvenuto al Sud, they say you cry twice in the south. One when you arrive and once when you leave. I felt this way as I shed a tear on my arrival at the sheer beauty of this place and another on leaving it because I would miss it. I tend to feel this way about most Italian towns. I guess I am just a helpless romantic.

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Memories of Perugia

George

 

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italian language, Italy, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Some of Our Best Memories

We have assembled pictures of some of our best memories in Italy. Italy is always romantic and it is always memorable. There are so many special little moments. The architecture, the sites, the history, the people, the food, the wine, … and so much more.

Enjoy your trip to see relatives, sites, museums or to just be Italian for a short while.

Dolce far niente!

George & Jo

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Casal Velino Marina, Cilento, Coliseum, cornetto, Dolce, Dolce far niente, Duomo, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Owning a home in Italy, Paestum, Panini, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Positano, Ravello, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Assisi Pictorial

Our second day took us from Perugia to Assisi to spend a day in this wonderful town. This was a trip of hill towns in Tuscany and Umbria.

Assisi is named after the popular Saint Francis. He was the son of a rich silk merchant that gave up his riches to live a life of poverty. Assisi is in the region of Umbria, province of Perugia. There are about 27,600 people living there. This is a mountain town with beautiful small streets, a fort and several churches including the Basilica of St. Francis.

Outside of Assisi is a wonderful large cathedral. Inside this church is the small original church of St. Francis. This is well worth a stop on your way to Assisi.

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Contains the original church of St. Francis

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First view of Assisi on a hill – On the left you can just make out the very large church of St. Francis in Assisi where he is buried

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Fun in Assisi on a Merry-go-round

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Another church in Assisi

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Stairs in Assisi

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Streets in Assisi

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Piazza in Assisi

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More stairs

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Streets lead through an ancient wall

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The Basilica of St. Francis opened 1253

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A wedding in Assisi

Assisi is a place of St. Francis but it is also a great hill town in Umbria. It is fun to walk the streets, eat in the piazza and watch life and sometimes a wedding go on around you. This is a romantic town worth a visit.

In the afternoon we reluctantly left Assisi and drove to Cortona for the night. More on Cortona tomorrow. Parking in Assisi is in a lot outside the city walls. There are stairs up to the streets of Assisi.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Assisi, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Parking Garage, Romance, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Assisi and Saint Francis

If you know the story of Saint Francis, he was a kind person that rejected his father’s riches and lived a simple life helping people and animals. He was ordained in a very small church outside of Assisi. Today a huge cathedral was built around it. Inside you can still see the original small church.

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Most visitors never see this church. They know the two-story cathedral in Assisi with the massive lawn in front.

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Assisi is built high on a mountain and this church is at one end overlooking the valley below. Saint Francis’ remains are in this church. Assisi is a typical small Italian town with lots of charm. It has the typical small streets and paths that turn into stairs … lots of stairs.

If you drive, there are several parking lots outside of town. We chose the central parking lot (nearest the main piazza). There are stairs up to the city. These are easy lots to get in and out of. Parking payment is at a machine in the garage. You get a ticket and leave it on your dashboard.

There are other churches and piazzas as well. One even had a merry-go-round.

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The streets and friendly people are a welcome to any visitor. Here you will see Franciscan Monks walking as well.

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While enjoying an afternoon wine and snack in a piazza, we saw a bride on the way to her wedding with mom & dad close by.

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Assisi is a tourist town but you can sit back, enjoy it and watch life go on around you. In Italy never miss these moments to stop being a tourist and observe life and fun around you. It’s there, you just have to look.

Tomorrow we are off to Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun).

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Assisi, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Parking Garage, Parking Meters, Romance, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italy Anew

We are back from nearly a month in Italy. We spent a week Plus in Tuscany and two weeks plus at our home in Campania. In Campania we visited several old mountain and beach towns. Some we had already been too and others were new.

Let’s start in Tuscany. Our first stop was Perugia. This is chocolate town in Italy. It is the home of Perugina chocolates. The town is ancient with very small roads that barely permit a car to pass. We used GPS to navigate to our hotel, Fortuna. Getting into the old section was easy but we were on a one way street an a giant cylinder blocked are way.

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After some difficulty we discovered a button that calls the hotel on the wall. After identifying ourselves, the cylinder was lowered so we could drive very carefully down this small narrow street. After unloading the luggage and checking in, we had to move the car to a parking lot. We chose to go to a lot outside the old city. The trip back and lowering the cylinder was easy. Next we turned onto an even narrower street. From here we had to make an impossible left turn on a street that we had to move the mirrors in to fit. At this point we were ready for some wine! Lots of wine …

We got the car down to the parking area and took several sets of underground escalators back up to the old city. Like many Italian towns there was a large and small piazza. The small one had an incredible view out over the hills of Tuscany.

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Perugia is a series of very small roads (paths) off each Piazza.

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Finally after touring Perugia and eating some chocolate we found an outdoor cafe in the piazza for some much need wine.

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You are calm and feel good in Perugia (other than the initial driving). We had excellent free wifi at our hotel and a wonderful breakfast.

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You are part of an ancient medieval scene. Enjoy … Tomorrow we will take you to Assisi.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Assisi, Cafè, Campania, General Travel, GPS, Italy, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Sweets, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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