Local festivals in Umbria's romantic hilltowns
Staying in Montefalco
Visiting Spoleto, Gubbio, Bevagna, Deruta, Spello, Perugia, Assisi and Orvieto.
Small groups. Fully accompanied by dedicated locals.
The 7 day itinerary explores an extraordinary wealth of history, art and some of the oldest architecture in Europe. The towns and villages offer a blend of art, history, food, wine, landscape and crafts that makes them worth a week of anyone's time. Guided visits are organised to impressive locations within the towns where Etruscan arches, Roman architecture and Renaissance frescoes form a fascinating collage.
You will wander through local markets, delightful piazzas, enjoy a wine tasting of award winning wines and be brought face to face with a vibrant and attractive way of life that has deep roots in an ancient past while admiring the many architectural and artistic features that enrich the central Italian province of Umbria.
Day 1 Thursday: Lunch & Dinner included
Foligno can be reached easily on the main train line from Rome to Ancona. The trip takes about 1hr.15mins. You will be met outside the main entrance of Foligno railway station at 11.30am and transferred to your accommodation. After lunch on the estate you will be introduced to the art and history of Montefalco including a wine tasting in the town's delightful piazza. A delicious 4 course dinner including wine is served at the accommodation every evening.
Perugia & Deruta
Day 2 Friday: B D
Perugia is Umbria’s largest town is a rich microcosm of medieval and modern. Its highlights include the magnificent frescoes in the Collegio del Cambio and the town's famous chocolates. Once an important Etruscan settlement, Perugia has piled up layers of history ever since, turning Renaissance palaces into shops and inserting modern escalators into medieval remains, Perugia’s surprising underground city. The morning is free for shopping and lunch. Our afternoon guided tour includes a walk through the medieval ghost town under Rocca Paolina. The virtual underground city was a stroke of genius by the architect who was ordered to destroy the area. After Perugia lost out in a salt war in 1540, Pope Paul Farnese III crushed part of the medieval city and built a new fortress, the Rocca Paolina, on top. But he left entire streets intact beneath, which still have their pavements, tall doorways and rooms with windows and fireplaces. Some are now incorporated into the system of escalators that bring visitors up from the lower town. The pope's fortress is long gone after three centuries of angry citizens - as are the days when the Vatican controlled this area. Umbrians have long memories however and to this day bake their bread and make pasta without using salt.
The tour also includes a visit to an Etruscan well and the extraordinary Etruscan gate from the 2nd century BC.
After some free time to enjoy the ambience, we travel to Deruta to browse through the ceramics in this famous artisan town since medieval times where you will be shown through a selection of some of the 300 outlets selling majolica or brightly coloured plates, and bowls.
Return to dinner at the accommodation.
Assisi & Spoleto
Day 3 Saturday: B D
You will wake gently to the sound of many distant church bells and enjoy breakfast in the garden overlooking the valley of Umbria. Then travel through a dream landscape to Assisi, the home of St Francis, Italy's favourite saint. Your guided tour includes the Basilica of San Francesco decorated with frescoes by Giotto. The morning includes a guided tour of the town, including the Roman remains under the still-standing temple of Minerva, and the Basilica of San Francesco with Giotto's frescoes which decorate the lower church.
We travel to Spoleto, a town rich in Roman and medieval history, and explore the ancient centre including the Roman house the Duomo to see Filippo Lippi's final fresco cycle. There is also free time to wander the streets, shops and cafes in this evocative town. A relaxed dinner again tonight at the accommodation.
Day 4 Sunday: B D
The historical centre of Gubbio has a decidedly medieval aspect: the town is austere in appearance because of the dark grey stone, narrow streets, and Gothic architecture. Many houses in central Gubbio date to the 14th and 15th centuries, and were originally the dwellings of wealthy merchants.
The hills above the town were already occupied in the Bronze Age and it was an important town of the ancient Umbrian people in pre-Roman times, made famous for the discovery there of the Eugubine Tables, a set of bronze tablets that constitute the largest surviving text in the Etruscan language and transcribed into ancient Umbrian. After the Roman conquest in the 2nd century BC the city remained important, as attested by its Roman theatre, the second-largest surviving in the world.
Bevagna & Spello
Day 5 Monday: B L D
Down in the valley and just a short distance from Montefalco, Bevagna is one of Umbria's most evocative towns. During Spring you can view a circuit of mediaeval artisans in their workshops including Francesco, the artisan paper maker surrounded by shredded fabrics, an enormous water operated pulping mill, and boiling animal hides. We visit a revocation of a Medieval house complete with frescoes, bedlinens, bath and weaving loom as part of the guided exploration of this small gem. Our visit also includes the town's Roman mosaics and the beautifully evocative piazza encircled by Bevagna's other essential sights; the two Romanesque churches that face each other across Piazza Silvestri, the intact medieval main square. San Michele is fascinating, but my favourite is San Silvestro; its utter lack of adornment and steeply raised presbytery radiate a stern romanesque purity.
A characteristic local lunch is included in the day.
In this sweet fragment of the medieval world, Spello's splendidly intact town walls are draped around the centro storico like a necklace. "Hispellum" was originally a Roman settlement – it lay on the Via Flaminia consular road, close to the strategic junction for Perugia. The most impressive remnant of this stage of the town's history, apart from the walls themselves, is the Porta Venere, an Augustan-era gate flanked by two 12-sided towers, standing in magnificent isolation on the west side of town.
Our guided visit takes in the sights strung out along Via Cavour, the main street, beginning with Santa Maria Maggiore. This church has a finely sculpted medieval portal, but the real treat is inside: the Cappella Baglioni side-chapel, decorated with superb frescoes by the Umbrian Renaissance master Pinturicchio. Standing in the chapel you can turn your back on the real world and enter the artist's dream world of exquisite colour, sweetness and grace including his scene of the annunciation with the green and golden silken robes of the angel still floating, airborn as he lands to point his finger to the bewildered but resigned virgin.
Spello's real pleasures, apart from its two standout sights, are the civilised pace of life of the town and the lovely Subasio marble from which it is built, which takes on a peach-pink hue around sunrise and sunset. There will be some free time for you to take in the atmosphere and visit the local traditional art and artisans shops which populate the town.
Dinner at the accommodation
Day 6 Tuesday: B D
In the morning travel to Orvieto, a ruggedly beautiful hilltop town, where there will be free time to visit the weekly markets and to explore the town centre with its fascinating array of shops, cafes and an award-winning gelateria. The day includes a guided visit to the Duomo, among the greatest of all Italy’s cathedrals, containing the work of Luca Signorelli. Signorelli's greatest work was a series of frescoes done for the cathedral of Orvieto. These hallucinatory imaginings introduce a heightened sense of drama and a new, almost paranoid degree of spiritual extremism into the art of early-16th-century Italy. Apocalyptic hysteria was in the air at the time, epitomised by the activities of the charismatic Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola in Florence. Signorelli has the dead miraculously rising up from the ground, heaving themselves bodily out of the earth to emerge into the afterlife. Keen to demonstrate his knowledge of anatomy, he included several risen souls as walking skeletons awaiting the restoration of their flesh. The apocalyptic brilliance of Luca Signorelli inspired Michelangelo and many other renaissance masters.
Cocktails and last supper at the accommodation.
Day 7 Wednesday: B
On the last day of the tour you will be transferred to Foligno Station at a time that suits you.
Earlybird special LESS 5% for 2019 until 31/11/2018
EUR 2100per person in DBL
EUR 2200 per person in SNG
A deposit of EUR 350 per person is required to hold a place.
Based on 4 to 16 in each group
7 Days / 6 Nights starting on the following dates:
SUN 13 - SAT 19 JAN
SUN 14 - SAT 20 APR
SUN 26 MAY - SAT 01 JUN
SUN 30 JUN - SAT 06 JUL
SUN 08 - SAT 14 SEP
SUN 29 SEP - SAT 05 OCT
Private dates are available on request at a 10% loading on the published price
• Foligno station or hotel transfers
• All land travel by air-conditioned coach
• Accommodation for six nights (2 days full board, 4 days half board)
• Dinner every night includes fresh local produce and local wines
• At least one visit to a local festival depending on availability
• Guided visits in Montefalco, Spoleto, Gubbio, Bevagna, Deruta, Spello, Perugia, Assisi and Orvieto
• Admission to all galleries, museums and historical sites included in the itinerary
• The services of a tour leader throughout the tour
Camiano Piccolo is a family run country guesthouse located just outside the walls of the medieval hilltown of Montefalco, where a cluster of farm buildings has been converted into high quality accommodation. All rooms are furnished with solid antiques and have their own bathroom and private entrances. There is a shady garden with a swimming pool and spectacular views across the Valley of Umbria. The estate still produces their own vegetables, herbs, wine and olive oil which are used to prepare the delicious simple meals held in a pleasant dining room or outside under pine trees.
The program may be altered to accommodate group sizes, seasonal variations and activities, including local festivals. However the essential content of the itinerary will remain the same. B L D means that breakfast, lunch and/or dinner will be included that day.