Umbria in the past has been long often overshadowed by its more famous neighbouring region of Tuscany. However it well deserves it’s nickname as “the green heart of Italy” and there is some wonderful countryside that surrounds hilltop towns of Orvieto, Assisi, Gubbio and Perugia. Near Orvieto (with its magnificent cathedral) you find the white wines of the same name, whilst further south you find the wonderful wines of Montefalco made from Sagrantino, producing brambly red wines, from which a passito wine is also made.

As a wine region it is undergoing quite a few changes as was somewhat left behind Tuscany on the international scene (with the exception of two notable producers – Lungarotti and Arnaldo Caprai who have long been the flagships estates of the region) and with 11 DOC’s and two DOCG’s in the region. More attention is now being paid to the vineyards – which is being reflected in the quality of the wine from other producers.

Umbria, as Tuscany, opts for simple wholesome cooking with grilled meats being popular as well as lots of game and soups. The region is also home to black truffles in the autumn. The olive oil is as highly rated as that of Tuscany.

Umbria is a beautiful region of rolling hills, woods, streams and valleys, and despite the growing number of visitors has largely retained an unspoiled air.

It is home to a number of hill towns, each crammed with artistic and architectural treasures that rival bigger cities.

Historically, Umbria is best known as the birthplace of several saints, St. Benedict and St. Francis of Assisi being the most famous.

Umbria has begun to capitalize on its charms. Foreign acquisition of rural property now rivals that of Tuscany, though outsiders have done nothing to curb the region's renewed sense of identity and youthful enthusiasm. Nor has it blunted artistic initiatives that have turned Umbria into one of the most flourishing cultural centers in Italy.

Most visitors head for the capital Perugia, Assisi – with its extraordinary frescoes by Giotto in the Basilica di San Francesco – or Orvieto, where the duomo is one of the greatest Gothic buildings in the country.