Umbria

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

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

Which of these Italian Cities are your Favorites?

For everyone that has been to Italy and wants to return, is planning a first trip to Italy or is just dreaming about a trip, These videos are for you. There are ten (10) videos below of 9 cities and a very interesting cave restaurant. Some cities are large others are small beach towns or mountain towns. Each Monday a new town is added. I explain things you need to know about Italy as well as taking you on a walk through each city. I hope you enjoy these vlogs. If you do, please share with your friends and like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. We will not have a new VLOG on January 2, 2017 but will continue each Monday starting January 9, 2017.

Introduction to my Channel

Cities in Italy

 1. Cisterninio (Puglia)

2.Ostuni (Puglia)

 3. Alberobello (Puglia)

 4. Grotta Palazzese ( in Polignano a Mare – Puglia)

 5. Rome (Rome)

6. Positano (Campania)

 7. Castellabate (Campania)

 8. Florence (Tuscany)

 9. Perugia (Umbria)

 10. Marina di Casal Velino (Campania)

11. Assisi

12. Marina di Camerota

13. Cortona

You can see the entire playlist on my YouTube Channel.

Happy travels & may you one day be in Italy…

– George

Categories: Alberobello, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Campania, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cave Restaurant, Cisternino, Coliseum, cornetto, David, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Florence, Food, Galleria dell'Accademia, Gelato, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italian, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Ostuni, Perugia, Polignano a Mare, Positano, Puglia, Regions of Italy, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Villa Borghese, Walking, WiFi, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Perugia, Italy

Perugia is in the Umbria region near the Tuscany border. This is Italy’s famous chocolate town. Home to Perugina (Back) chocolates. These are one of the best chocolates in the world. As you walk around the old section, each store sells these wonderful chocolates. How great to walk an old city, see beautiful vistas, be on small streets, see old architecture and eat wonderful chocolates.

The old section has very tight small streets. You may not want to drive into it. Park in the central parking lot outside the old section. See the video VLOG below for more details.

Perugia was one of the most important Etruscan cities. Etruscans were an ingenious people who ruled cities around Italy during pre-Roman times. This city has history and the architecture to prove it. This is a city to walk and explore its wonders. Many streets are narrow alley ways that twist and turn. As you enter a piazza the space and number of people increases. Piazzas have many outdoor restaurants were you can sit on the piazza under an umbrella and enjoy a drink or something to eat. These are great places to sit, relax, watch and become part of Italian life.

Please watch my video VLOG below and if you enjoy it, please LIKE it and Subscribe on YouTube. Thank you.

– George

Categories: Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Mountain Towns, Museums, Parking Garage, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Umbria, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Magnificent Views of Italy

It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy. There are views and eye-catching sights everywhere. You can be in a big city looking at a famous monument, on a small street, looking at a small city high up on a mountain, at the beach, climbing stairs or sitting at a small trattoria. Italy is all about its architecture. It has a personality all to itself. Here you stand on ancient roads, some dating pre-Roman. You feel and see its history. At the same time there is a modern culture all around you. iPhones, iPad and computers are everywhere. Most bars have free wi-fi service.

We come to Italy for the food, the people and these views. I love the feeling of being in an ancient place. Thinking about those ancient people and what they did, what they felt. Was their life that different from ours? These views can talk to you! Just listen and hear what they are saying. This is not a country to be rushed. Stop, relax and take in these views. Listen to them. Imaging yourself back in those times. Soon your modern problems give way to an appreciation of this great history.

My wish to all my readers is to be able to travel. experience another culture. Enjoy life more. There is so much to experience and learn. Pick a place you are passionate about and visit it. Put it on your bucket list. life is short but memories are forever.

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My passion is Italy, what is yours?

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Coliseum, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Perugia, Planning a vacation, Ravello, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Velina, Venice, Villa Brunella, WiFi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Is it Time for you to Take a Trip to Italy?

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? Have you dreamed about eating real Italian food? Do you long to see the museums or architecture? Maybe you have relatives there and just want to reunite old ties. What ever your reasons are, Italy is a great place to spend a vacation. After a week you are feeling relaxed and enjoying life. After two weeks you are totally relaxed, speaking some Italian words and loving the food. Longer periods in Italy will make you an Italian for life!

The northern lake Area offers beautiful scenery overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The large cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples are great places to see Italians being themselves. They also are great for seeing living history. Look at the buildings the architecture and envision the people that built these great cities. Maybe southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. Beauty unspoiled by man and pristine beaches. What is stopping you?

If it’s being afraid of big tours or doing it on your own, we offer an alternative for the selective traveler to see what they want to see and spend as much time as the want. If you find a great Italian spot, the last thing you want is to be taken away by a tour bus. It would be wonderful to change your plans and just stay in your new found location. Italy is all about love, romance, beauty and spontanaeity.

Italy creates many wonderful memories and experiences but you have to touch it! Get away from the crowded tourists areas and meet real Italians. See places that will change you forever. Don’t eat in tourists restaurants. These will be memories you will never forget.

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Anacapri, Architecture, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Fish, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Maratea, Matera, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Paestum, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Pizza, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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.

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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

Siena Pictorial

Siena is a good size city in the region of Tuscany, provide of Siena.  Ithaca a population of 52,700 people. Siena has a very large piazza in the center of town that has a horse race twice a year called the Palio.

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Siena is near to many Tuscan and Umbrian mountain towns, Sah Gimignano and Florence. The main Chianti wine area is nearby as well.

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The piazza

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Small narrow streets

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Stairs up from Baptistery to Duomo

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Inside Duomo

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Duomo in its full glory

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Always time for gelato

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Beautiful streets

Siena is worth a stop for a day or two. Get out and walk the city and see its sites. Soccer fans will find a large soccer stadium here. Siena is near the autostrada and is easily reachable by car from Florence or Rome.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italy, Siena, Tuscany, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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

Early Etruscan Life

Before the Romans there were the Etruscans. They were an advanced people. They built some great cities like Pompeii. This civilization lived in ancient Italy in the current areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. It started just after the Iron age and last up to the Roman period.

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Livescience” has an article on early Etruscan life. It was titled “Skeleton of early Prince Reveals Etruscan Life”. The Etruscans they are talking about lived between 616 & 579 BC. That’s a long time ago. If you have been to Pompeii or are planning a trip to Naples or Rome Italy, go and see Pompeii. It’s that famous city that was destroyed by the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was not destroyed by lava but very hot volcanic ash that covered the entire city killing everyone inside. After they found this remarkable city they dug out the ash and discovered a modern city. Some of the things that were amazing to us were:

  1. Stone ovens like our brick pizza ovens probably for bread
  2. Speed bumps to slow down the horse and carriages inside the city
  3. A water gravity system that when turned on cleaned the streets automatically
  4. Homes that were very large and beautiful. Several we would love to live in today
  5. Graffiti on the walls as a form of communication
  6. Hotels
  7. Theaters
  8. Hotels catering to prostitution

Don’t miss this wonderful glimpse into the past.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Etruscan, Europe, Italy, Lazio, Pompeii, Tuscany, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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