5 highlights of your cycling holiday in Umbria

Lying just to the east of Tuscany, Umbria shares its natural beauty, medieval and Renaissance history and art, and wonderful food and wine. Only one thing is missing – the tourist crowds! A cycling tour is the perfect way to explore the untouched Umbrian countryside, as you explore lush olive orchards and fertile vineyards that produce world-famous oils and wines. Lovely hilltop towns, rich in history, will give you plenty of opportunities to stop and explore ancient Roman ruins, castles, and cathedrals.

Here are 5 experiences to be sure to include on your visit to Umbria.

A visit to Assisi

Home to Saint Francis, and the art his life inspired. Be sure to visit the Basilica di St. Francis, with it’s famous frescoes by Giotto, fully restored following the earthquake in 1997. Or enjoy a walk up narrowing alleyways to the remains of Rocca Maggiore, where you can experience a stunning view of Assisi below.

Assisi

Taste a Sagrantino wine

Sagrantino di Montefalco is a single varietal wine, produced exclusively from the Sagrantino grape. This varietal of unknown origin – some claim it hails from France, others claim Greece – is very rarely grown outside of Umbria, and almost disappeared even here until rediscovered in the 1970s. Today, there are only a handful producers that make this wine, and only about 250 acres under production.

Dark and dense, loaded with dark fruits with some spicy and earthy notes. It expresses flavors of black cherry, licorice and chocoate. Medium to full bodied, and high in tannins, but with tannins that are more sweet than austere, producing a wine that manages to be both sweet and savory.

Relax in an out-of-the way, small hilltop town

Umbria’s major tourist sites are Perugia, Orvieto, and Assisi. But a cycling tour through the countryside will give you a wonderful chance to discover a few of the smaller, lovely towns – Bevagna, Todi, Spello, or Montefalco, to name a few. Visit a church, or some ancient Roman ruins. Enjoy a glass of the local wine on the main piazza, along with a snack of the local flatbread, torta al testo.

Orvieto

Learn the history of wine and olive oil production in Umbria

Torgiano was the first winemaking area in Umbria to receive the DOC quality designation, and now boasts a DOCG certification as well. The Lungarotti family, progressive winemakers in this area, have preserved the history of wine production as well as olive oil production in their museums here in Torgiano. Enjoy a night in their 5 star hotel, Tre Vaselle, while you are here.

Indulge in Umbrian truffles

Relish the most luxurious of Umbrian specialities – the truffle. Both black and white truffles are found in the region. These misshapen, unassuming fungi are found all year round. White truffles, rarer and more aromatic, are more highly prized than the black summer truffles. Close to half (45%) of all black truffles produced in Italy hail from the area around Valnerina. There are three main truffle fairs in Umbria each winter, in Norcia, Valtopina, and Città di Castello. You can indulge in truffles many ways – grated over pasta, flavoring pates, sauces, and frittatas.

Truffles

Kathy Bechtel is Owner of Italiaoutdoors.

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