Things to Do in Umbria
The 13th-century Fontana Maggiore is undoubtedly the main attraction in Piazza IV Novembre and not only because of its size. The huge area was built in the late 1270s and sits in a prominent location between Perugia's cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori. It was sculpted by a father-son team from pink and white marble. They depicted scenes from the Old Testament, legends about the founding of Perugia, as well as symbols of the city.
The construction of the fountain was part of a host of city-wide renovations marking Perugia's becoming autonomous, which is why many of the symbols on the fountain promote civic pride. The piazza itself is named for the day World War I ended in Italy.
The exterior of the basilica is notable for its horizontal stripes of pink and white stone and its campanile, which is the tallest in Assisi. Inside, the walls of the dimly lit nave are now white, although they were covered in frescoes until the 17th century. Elsewhere in the church, frescoes dating to the 13th and 14th centuries still remain. To the south of the nave is a small chapel that holds the 12th century crucifix that is said to have spoken to Saint Francis of Assisi.
Despite its modest white façade, flanked by four simple Doric pilasters, the Chiesa Nuova, or New Church, is one of Assisi’s most historically important churches, founded on the site of the house of Saint Francis’ home and birthplace. A church has stood on this spot since the 14th century, but the modern-day structure dates back to the early 17th century, when it was built under patronage of King Philip III of Spain, and has since become a significant landmark for pilgrims. The most notable features of the Renaissance-style Chiesa Nuova are the colorful frescoes by Cesare Sermei and Giacomo Giorgetti that adorn the interiors and the adjoining museum and library that offer greater insight into the site’s unique history.
This idyllic Perugian lake is home to three islands, including Isola Maggiore, a historic fishing village inhabited by just thirty people. And while the popular lake attracts visitors looking to cast their lines in hopes of snagging carp and pike, the surrounding vineyards and impressive castles, like Guglielmi and Zocco, draw travelers seeking a more typical Tuscany experience.
Travelers agree that Lake Trasimeno is the ideal destination for a relaxing day trip. With island visits, a quiet boat cruise and waterside picnic while lounging in the grass, the scenic shores provide a welcome respite from a more urban Italy. Nearby Castigione del Lago, a medieval town with unique shops and delicious restaurants just up the hill is a perfect addition to any Lake Trasimeno visit.
Collegio del Cambio - Perugia’s exchange guild - was built sometime between 1452 and 1457 and originally operated as a bank. Today, this stunning example of Roman architecture is a destination for travelers who want to experience the beauty of the best-preserved Renaissance frescoes in the nation. Though only two rooms are open to the public at a cost of about five euros, visitors say what lied behind the massive wooden doors is definitely worth a visit. Stunning works from the artist Perugino, ornate wood carvings and a truly spectacular ceiling make this an attraction that is not to be missed while in Perugia.
More Things to Do in Umbria
The town of Assisi in Umbria is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Europe, thanks to the saint who was born – and is buried – there. When Saint Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, died in 1226, plans for a basilica dedicated to him were begun. Construction of the Basilica di San Francesco started in 1228, and the basilica was consecrated in 1253. It is actually a complex of two churches, an upper and lower, built into a hillside. The interiors of both churches were frescoed by artists of the era whose names are familiar to us today – including Giotto and Cimabue. St. Francis' tomb is in the crypt, and is what both pilgrims and tourists line up to see. In 1997, two earthquakes hit Umbria within minutes of one another, but it was an aftershock that shook the basilica in Assisi. Many of the original Giotto frescoes in the Upper Basilica were destroyed, and the vault collapsed, killing four people. The church was closed until 1999 while restoration work took place.
Things to do near Umbria
- Things to do in Perugia
- Things to do in Assisi
- Things to do in Orvieto
- Things to do in Marche
- Things to do in Tuscany
- Things to do in Lazio
- Things to do in Montepulciano
- Things to do in Lake Bolsena
- Things to do in Arezzo
- Things to do in Siena
- Things to do in Abruzzo
- Things to do in Emilia-Romagna
- Things to do in Istria
- Things to do in Veneto
- Things to do in Amalfi Coast