Umbria. Until last summer the Italian region symbol of romanticism and sweetness – here are crafted some of the best Italian pastries and chocolates – has always been a mystery to me. An unexpected trip to Alviano allowed me to discover the charm of its gentle hills surrounded by green landscapes. The second meeting with Umbria has been granted me by Humanities Spring, a not-for-profit Italian arts and educational institute with home-base in Assisi.

Assisi - Umbria, Italy

The institute’s seat is an old mansion hidden in the dense vegetation of the Subasio Park, completely isolated but for a small private chapel and a detached residence. The curvy road joining it with Assisi crosses the park up through the slope and allows for a magnificent view of the town and the surrounding hills.

Subasio Park - Umbria, Italy

Since I was there, I couldn’t miss the chance to visit Assisi’s city centre. Being the town popular for giving birth to the first hippy in human history – Saint Francis of Assisi – it is a well renown destination for religious tourism. Such kind of travel experience has recently seen a remarkable growth in Italy and, maybe helped by the name choice of the current pope, Assisi got its share from it.

But there is no need to be a pilgrim in order to appreciate the town’s beautiful buildings, churches and squares. Flowing agreeably from Mount Subasio, the whole town is at the same time a stunning sight and a great observation point for the lying valley. Moreover, no reason to get too excited about any religious feeling: the streets are crowded with gift shops selling more or less the same Francis-related junk, which doesn’t help to feel the saint’s original message.

A far better plan would be to simply enjoy the charming sights and end the day with a good truffle based Umbrian meal!

Where is Assisi?

View Larger Map