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1 Week in UMBRIA (and/or Tuscany?) - itinerary & Q's!

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1 Week in UMBRIA (and/or Tuscany?) - itinerary & Q's!

Old Apr 12th, 2017, 11:42 AM
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1 Week in UMBRIA (and/or Tuscany?) - itinerary & Q's!

Hi all - I am planning a 1 week trip in mid-August. Originally I had intended on Tuscany, but in doing some research I read that Umbria is just as beautiful, often cheaper and less crowded, and a bit closer to Rome, where I can fly nonstop from NYC (unlike Florence or Pisa). I am still open to Tuscany - or perhaps splitting the week in half and doing both regions?

Would love your thoughts on that, and help creating an itinerary - what areas to stay, logistics of getting around. I assume we need a car, and that we just park outside every city/village in a paid lot so as not to mess with ZTL's? Or would this all be 100% doable by bus and train?

Our goal for this trip is good food & wine, scenic countryside, charming villages, and maybe just a day or two in a larger city (such as Florence or Rome). We are not very interested in major "sight-seeing" of tourist landmarks. More just soaking in the lifestyle. And preferably, not spending the whole week driving!

Any of your advice is appreciated, thank you in advance.
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Old Apr 12th, 2017, 12:30 PM
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Obviously, it depends on where in Tuscany and where in Umbria, but the travel distance from FCO to the more popular points in either region are generally about the same.

Also, I don't think the overall cost of staying in either region is significantly different. You can spend what you want to spend in both.

Crowds could be an issue, but you can avoid them in both regions by just not going to the most popular, most talked about towns.

You can get around using buses and trains, but you won't see that much and what you see will be limited by where the trains and buses go. IMO, many of the more interesting things in both regions are not easily reached using public trans. Yes, just about every city and town has a ZTL, but it's usually easy to park just outside the centers of small towns. Parking outside larger towns is less straightforward, and the walk between parking and historical center can be longer.

FYI, if you decide to drive, you'll need an International Drivers Permit.

A week isn't as long as it may seem. Most businesses and sights in small towns will probably be closed for a few hours in the middle of the day (riposo). I'd pick one place to stay and then plan day trips in the surrounding area. I try to keep sightseeing to what I can drive to within an hour.

It's going to be hot and probably humid.
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Old Apr 12th, 2017, 04:07 PM
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I don't find Umbria as attractive as southern Tuscany. In August, I've found many smaller hill towns to be quite deserted in both places. YMMV.

As for wine and vistas, I prefer southern Tuscany, but you could easily spend a week in either.

>>> Or would this all be 100% doable by bus and train?
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Old Apr 12th, 2017, 05:54 PM
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I can't compare the two regions because I've only dipped my toe in Tuscany, but I've visited Umbria twice and love it. There are a number of towns that make a good base. We chose Spello, but Spoleto, Bevagna, Montefalco and Assisi are all decent candidates. Spoleto is bigger; Bevagna is flat. I tend to think the region is best toured by car. Driving is relatively easy, but you need to be mindful of parking restrictions. Most of the towns have ZTL in there center where non local traffic is prohibited. One rule of thumb we followed is to avoid driving through the town gates.

For day trips, we've been to all of the above named towns, plus Orvieto, Gubbio, Perugia, Deruta, and Norcia. We also spent a few nights at an agriturismo near Lake Trasimeno, near Panicale.

If you like wine, consider a wine tour with Gusto (based out of Montefalco, but they will pick you up if you're staying nearby).

For car rental, we've rented through Auto Europe and picked up/dropped off in Chiusi and Foligno (taking the train to/from Rome). Of course you can pick up a car in Rome, too.
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Old Apr 13th, 2017, 08:25 AM
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>>>where I can fly nonstop from NYC (unlike Florence or Pisa).
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Old Apr 13th, 2017, 01:03 PM
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I think Umbria is easier to get around by train than Tuscany is. Several of the major towns are on train lines, for example, Assisi, Spello, Perugia, and Spoleto. Perugia is a faily large town, but it makes a good hub, because there are also good bus connections from Perugia. Still, I think a car is the best way to get around.

Florence is just as easy to get to from Rome (by train) as any place in Umbria is, and it takes less time to get there, because it's served by fast train from Rome, whereas there are no fast trains to anywhere in Umbria.

Umbria is less crowded than Tuscany, but if you really want to avoid crowds, consider Le Marche, which borders both Tuscany and Umbria, and which has better scenery (in places) than you'll find in any other part of central Italy.
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Old Apr 13th, 2017, 05:27 PM
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Last summer I spent five nights in Umbria followed by four nights in Le Marche. I agree that Le Marche is extremely beautiful and less touristed than either Umbria or Tuscany. However, is it possible to get around without a car there? I was also just crazy about northern Lazio and parts of Abruzzo, but then again we were roadtripping.

We stayed in Spello (a little too quiet for my taste but certainly cute as a button) and I picked up my sister and brother-in-law down at the train station, when they came from Florence to join my niece and me. Seems like it would be relatively simple--though perhaps slow--to get around without a car on that line.
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Old Apr 13th, 2017, 06:55 PM
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We rented a house outside Todi in May 2004, daytripped to Orvieto, Perugia, and Assisi/Spello/Montefalco, and also visited nearby Montecastello di Vibio with its jewel box of a theater. I enjoyed each and every one. While the scenery wasn't as other world dreamy as that of the Val D'Orcia in Tuscany, there were lovely vistas, fields of red poppies in bloom, and fresh truffles to be had. I liked that we could choose either the quick, mostly straight highways or the windy, scenic roads for day trips.
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Old Apr 13th, 2017, 07:50 PM
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We spent seven days in Spoleto and Orvieto. Spoleto is great and we took day trips by train to Assisi , Perugia,and Alcona. The town has good restaurants and a lovely Duomo. If ever I could live in Italy, Spoleto would be one of the places I would consider. The train station is about a kilometre from the town centre, with the town centre being pedestrians only. It is also very hilly.
Orvieto is gorgeous but it may be a bit much for others as it is very quiet once the day trippers have gone. We did take day trips to Chuisi and Castiglione Del Largo.
We found both towns very friendly.
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Old Apr 14th, 2017, 01:26 AM
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A car wouldn't be absolutely necessary in Le Marche, but it would make matters much easier. There are two train lines that pass through Le Marche: the main train line from Rome to Ancona, which also passes through Spoleto; and the Adriatic coast line, which meets the first train line at Falconara Marittima and at Ancona. From the coast, you can get buses into the interior to see the charming little hill towns, and on the main line to Rome, there are buses to other towns, especially starting from Fabriano. The beautiful Frasassi caverns are also on this train line.

However, getting around by bus is certainly not easy. The buses are mostly used by students, and the schedules are designed around school hours, and are much reduced in the summer. Also, since most tourists in Le Marche have cars, the tourist offices, in my experience, know next to nothing about bus schedules. In my town, they couldn't even tell me where the bus stops.
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Old Apr 14th, 2017, 08:57 AM
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I've always preferred Umbria over Tuscany, and I've always had a car, preferring to stay away from the big towns and heading to small ones in the hills where there are ancient spas and forests. I should probably explore Le Marche.

I hated Assisi. Perugia is cool, but only for a day or two. Chiusi has a remarkable Etruscan museum. There are so many darling little towns like Panicale and the towns that encircle Lago Trasimeno - I love them all. There are amazing concerts in Maggiore at night, piano and other kinds - magical.
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