Roman soldiers, rewarded with gifts of territory, later made it their playground. Finally, the Middle Ages brought papal rule and long domination by the church. Our one week tour explores this legacy. Masterpieces of art, such as the cathedral of Orvieto and the frescoes of Giotto and Cimabue in the basilica of St Francis in Assisi, leave you speechless. We venture like pilgrims to his tomb and into beautiful woods of oak and chestnut. We feel the spiritual mysticism in the wealth of Umbrian saints, among them St Benedict and St Francis. Our walks offer a variety of scenery.
We use gravel tracks and uneven paths to overlook Lake Corbara and the gorges of the Tiber, skirt the edge of wooded hilltops to look out over the fertile valley of Spoleto, enjoy spectacular views of the Apennines from above Gubbio and traverse the grassy meadows on top of Mount Subasio. Here, wild horses roam and truffle hunters seek the delicious, nugget-shaped mushrooms for which restaurants pay ransom-like sums and make humble dishes fit for kings. Here, local people still practice the world-renowned, traditional methods of "majolica" ceramic production.
Day 1: Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio. We meet at 12:00 at the Orvieto train station and begin a memorable tour of Orvieto at the Etruscan tombs from which a trail leads up into the ancient town for a picnic lunch. We descend the famous spiral stairs of the Pozzo di San Patrizio and then make our way through the narrow streets to the Duomo, whose facade simply takes one's breath away; inside are wonderful frescoes by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli. Evening excursion into the surrounding countryside with views of Orvieto sitting majestically on top of a volcanic tufa plateau. From our restaurant tonight we looks across at Civita di Bagnoregio, a small village perched precariously upon eroding rock and reached only by a causeway bridge.
Day 2: Lago di Corbara - Deruta. A short drive to Civitella, high above Lake Corbara, is the start of a scenic walk which winds down to our picnic and the lake shore. After a picnic lunch we head for Deruta to see the famous "majolica" ceramics, admire the artistry, window shop and be tempted to purchase pottery. There is an optional panoramic afternoon walk into the walled Etruscan hill town of Bettona. Total time and distance: 4 hours/8 miles.
Day 3: Montefalco - Bevagna - Torgiano. The charming little town of Montefalco is known as the 'Balcony of Umbria' for its location sitting on the crest of a hill in central Umbria. After exploring the town, peering into churches with mummified bodies of saints and visiting medieval frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, we walk through vineyards and along the Clitunno river to Bevagna. Bevagna retains much of its Roman heritage and a walk through the town is a rewarding experience. We end the day with a visit to Umbria's fascinating wine museum in Torgiano. Total time and distance: 4 hours/8 miles.
Day 4: Assisi. At the foot of Monte Subasio lies the delightful town of Assisi which has long attracted pilgrims from far and wide. It is the birthplace of St. Francis and contains superb medieval frescoes by Giotto in the recently restored Basilica depicting the story of this extraordinary man. We also visit the Porziuncola at S.M. degli Angeli and the convent of S. Damiano, which are fundamental to the origins of the Franciscan order. A walk up to the Rocca castle offers sweeping views. Now you can enjoy some leisure time to further explore Assisi.
Day 5: Assisi - Spello. Permit us to consider today as a kind of pilgrimage, for our walk on the flower-strewn pastures of Monte Subasio is both physically and spiritually fulfilling. After visiting Eremo delle Carcere, the tranquil hermitage and favorite retreat of St. Francis during his life, we ascend on foot to the top of Monte Subasio. From here, on a clear day, there are 360 degree views of Umbria, the Appenines and occasionally the Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi mountains. Just the spot for a picnic, after which we wind downhill through olive groves into the ancient Roman town of Spello. Total time and distance: 6 hours/10 miles.
Day 6: Spoleto. A relaxing morning in the graceful and romantic city of Spoleto. The town contains important remains of its Roman origins as a major colony on the Via Flaminia. On the other hand the atmosphere is medieval, dating to its glorious period as the autonomous Duchy of Spoleto. Visit the market area, Roman theatre and museum, Rocca castle and the spectacular medieval aqueduct, Ponte delle Torri. An afternoon excursion to the Cascate delle Marmore waterfall follows.
Day 7: Gubbio. Gubbio is a medieval gem built of warm pink stone, dating back at least as far as the Umbrians who preceded the Etruscans. We travel through the Umbrian countryside and along the Tiber valley to Gubbio where a walk with stunning views beckons us. After a picnic lunch a visit to the church of St. Ubaldo, perched on the edge of the hillside and inside the relic of the saint himself. We descend by cable car to explore the medieval town, admire the local ceramics, visit the Roman amphitheater and see the Egubine tablets in the Palazzo dei Consoli. Afterwards relax and observe the locals with a refreshing drink in the magnificent Piazza Grande. Total time and distance: 4 hours/8 miles.
Day 8: Departure from Terontola or Cortona station. Scheduled departure from our hotel at 9:00 for Terontola/Cortona station. If you wish, we can help to extend your stay or make other independent departure arrangements.
Dates for 2014 :- 9-16th May and 1-8 September
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Europe Italy Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey