Umbria Photographs, Museums,
Hill Towns, Transportation
When we think of Umbria we think of the Italian word ombra. Shadow. One of Italy's smallest regions, Umbria lies in the shadow of its more illustrious neighbor, Tuscany. The many Umbrian hills and mountains cast long dark shadows over river valleys which are already darkened by lush chestnut groves and elm forests. This landlocked region's overwhelmingly medieval character harkens one back to the mysticism and mysteries of the Dark Ages. In so many ways, Umbria has lain in the shadows for centuries. The very identity of its original inhabitants, the Umbrians, is so clouded that we still have no clear understanding of the meaning of their name.
Perhaps self-imposed modesty is an inbred trait here. That would explain the relative obscurity of this beautiful region, a land whose rolling hills are dotted with castles, fortresses and watchtowers, whose well-preserved hill towns produce world-renowned handmade ceramics, whose many monasteries were founded by a host of local saints, whose valleys are laced with countless gleaming rivers and host Italy's largest lake. In Umbria, halfway up the slopes of Monte Fumaiolo, a trickle seeps out of the ground and wanders southward, gaining breadth and notoriety to become Rome's mighty Tiber. Any traveler who goes from Florence to Rome by land passes through the Tiber Valley, whose Umbrian locales include such towns as Assisi, Spoleto and Orvieto.