Best Town in Umbria?

Jan 31st, 2007, 06:12 AM
  #1  
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Best Town in Umbria?

O.K., I know I have been all over the boards as of late. But I'm having some issues with decisions.

At first I had my heart set on Spello and Hotel Palazzio Bocci-but no rooms available. And I'm not sure the other options are so great in Spello. So I moved on to Spoleto-but I'm a bit concerned because it comes with mixed reviews. Should I conisder Assisi, Terni, Foligno? Here are the facts: We will not have a car, will be taking a train from Rome (would prefer to be no longer than 2.5 hours), staying three nights in late May. We'd love just a really beautiful town to walk around, maybe hike, be in the culture, etc. Please help, planning is fun, but I've just researched this stuff to death and just want to book something today!

Thanks!
justburg is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 06:23 AM
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I am not a big fan of Spoleto myself. It just didn't have the charm and appeal that most other Umbrian hilltowns had. Foligno I would definitely not stay in. It was a little on the creepy side to me, the only place in Europe (and I've been to about 20 countries) where I ever felt slightly uncomfortable walking around town. Its not a touristy town and its not a hill town.

Spello is one of my favorites but I'm assuming you are looking for a new location. A few of my favorites; Montefalco, Bevagna, and Assisi. However, since you will not have a car you will be limited to where you can stay, so I would probably choose Assisi. Its a beautiful town with much to see and do, and at night when some of the daytrippers leave the town takes on an almost magical feel.

Good luck!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Without a car, you need to stay in a town with easy access to the train or bus lines. I would pick Perugia as it is a lovely small city with lots to see and do. Assisi also would be a good choice.
Grinisa is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 06:40 AM
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If you will not have a car I would likely look at Assisi as the train station in Spello is not very central.

Foligno and Terni have no charm what so ever in my opinion.

Assisi is a beautiful town and has many hotel options. As much as I loved Spello, it is quite necessary to have a car if you stay there in my opinion.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:00 AM
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Slow Travel has an article about where (and where not) to stay in Umbria. I've just skimmed it as we're in the very early stages of planning, but it seems to offer some very good advice. Here's the link: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/planning/where_umbria.htm.

Good luck!
kagoo is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:21 AM
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Have you considered Orvieto? Big enough to
keep your interest for at least a few days, very scenic, and full of life.
zootsi is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:24 AM
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So I am re-thinking La Bastiglia in Spello- it's just that so many people recommend Spello!! Are you guys saying that taking the train into Spello would not get us near the hotels in Spellp? Could we walk? We're a young couple.
justburg is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:29 AM
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I think La Baastiglia is a good option. It has the best restaurant in town.

The train station is below the town, which is on a hill. It is certainly walkable; we did it, huffing and puffing most of the way. We are not a young couple.
Judi is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Perugia, Perugia, Perugia...
A beautiful town to walk around. Lots to see, lots to do.
Very good commuting by train.
From the city center, under the Sangallo hotel, a bus station to bring you to all the Umbrian towns you want for a daytrip..
baldrick is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Not to discourage you as I love Spello. I stayed in the sister hotel Del Teatro in Spello which is a 3 star but had nice rooms and a lovely terrace overlooking the vale.

I am fairly young (42)....but the walk up from the train station is quite a hike. The train station is located in the new part of town outside the walls and the road up is very steep. I'm not sure if Spello has any taxi service. We saw some people walking with their luggage and I felt sorry for them as they looking like they were struggling.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 07:57 AM
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Todi!
crosscheck is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Spello for 3 days without a car, hmmmm. Spello is very charming, but very small, and you could explore every street, every Roman artifact (of which there are many), every store in one full day. Are you sure you won't be able to have a car? A one- or two-day car rental would allow you to visit a number of the other also-charming towns in the area.

Without a car, I would suggest a larger town, such as Perugia or Assisi. I'm not familiar with Todi (we visited it, but a long time ago), so I can't suggest anything one way or another there. Foligno is an ugly modern town. Terni we visited and couldn't figure out why it was listed in the guidebooks at all; it's gorgeous from the valley below, but there was nothing happening, and we couldn't even find a place to sit and have a drink (maybe we were just missing the main part of town, or something).

As a separate suggestion, in planning our trip to the area, I found references to a walk from Spello to Assisi along the flanks of Mt. Subusio (sp?). It sounded interesting; if you're in the area for 3 days, it might be something to consider.
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 08:26 AM
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If we ran out of things to do in Spello isn't it possible to take the train to Assisi and other close towns?
justburg is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 08:28 AM
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Justburg,

If you plan to spend 3 days in an Umbrian town without a car, I think you need to be in a large enough city, or a town with lots to see and do. Assisi, Orvieto or Perugia might work.

If you plan on somewhere small you will really need to break down and get a car. The hilltowns don't have train stations very near - a taxi would be required. Also, most of the hilltowns are too small to keep you interested for 3 days.....

Dayle is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Without a car, and to keep you entertained for three days, you have in fact no other choice than Perugia (you have no idea how boring Spello could be on your third day - it's about twice as large as your living room). This is not meant to sound negative: Perugia is one of Italy's greatest big towns/small cities, a wonderful place full of lively atmosphere and world-class art and architecture, absolutely amazing.

Having thus answered the original answer, I just cannot do without commenting on some of the other posts here. First of all, I know that many seasoned Fodorites, eminent experts among them, love Spello; I just don't quite understand why. Its antique Roman walls and gates are impressive, no doubt; and the Pinturicchio frescoes in San ??? are among the very best Renaissance frescoes all over Umbria. Ok. But atmospherically, Spello did never manage to make me share your love for it. I think it's not very lively, and the central piazza is spoiled by a really awful modern building, placed there with unparalleled brutalism and without any hint of sensibility for the historic architecture around - something that occurs really rarely in Umbria.
And Foligno - creepy?? No charm?? Sorry that I have to say that, but both of you don't seem to have visited the same Foligno that I know very well (I've been there several times, and have even made friends there). Foligno is one of the secret highlights of small town Italy; it's a place that I could easily call home, a place where I would be willing to move tomorrow. Wonderful shopping (not of the touristy type, of course, but for a resident: excellent delicatessen shops, clothes, everything you want and need - you'd never have to leave town for buying anything), pleasant though not spectacular historic sights, a wonderful Piazza del Duomo, a lively corso every night, and yes: NO TOURISTS - a model town (though not for a tourist without a car - it's too small to stay there for three days without wanting to do sidetrips). And one of Italy's best restaurants, too: Villa Roncalli (see this thread: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34792839). Maybe those who didn't love Foligno visited shortly after the heavy earthquake that shattered Umbria a few years ago - which has been hitting Foligno more than any other town of historic interest, leading to a domination of scaffoldings throughout the center for the following few years. In the meantime, though, everything is again like it used to be before...
franco is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 09:00 AM
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Perugia, Perugia, Perugia...
StCirq is online now  
Jan 31st, 2007, 09:10 AM
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I would agree with Perugia for many reasons.

1. It really does have great transportation options around Umbria. You can take a bus or train anywhere.

2. Lots of hotels to choose from in every price range.

3. The city itself has probably 2-3 days worth of things to do.

4. The best pizzeria outside of Naples (in my opinion) called Pizzeria Etruschetto on Via Garibaldi.

5. In spring, the Sagre start (festivals basically). I looked them up online and in late may there are at least 3 around Perugia: a) Cherry Festival in San Valentino della Collina from the 11 to the 21st. b) The strawberry festival from May 26 to June 5 in San Biagio delle valle. c) Olive oil festival in Trevi from the 15 of april to the 7th of may. Here's the website I found that on:
http://www.giraitalia.it/sagre/umbria/maggio.html

6. Did I mention Pizzeria Etruschetto?


nnolen is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 09:20 AM
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justburg:

If you were to have a car, I would vote for Montefalco..charming, good hotel choice (fabulous inn), etc...but without a car, I would summarily reject Spoleto and turn to the biggest city in the area (with the feel of a smaller town)...Perugia! A truly remarkable place, with most of the "action" on the top level of this uniquely multi-tiered city....
We stayed at and recommend the Hotel Fortuna on this top tier(rate approx: 100-125E's)....you can walk everywhere (there are escalators and elevators to speed you from one tier to the next). And the poster above recommended the bus staion with frequent busses for day trips to Assissi, Foligno, Spello, etc.
Bona fortuna!

Stu T.

http://www.venere.com/hotel/index.ph...ef=34990&rdt=1
tower is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 09:28 AM
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franco, my comments on Foligno were based on my own personal experiences only, and I mentioned in my post that it was in my opinion. I did certainly find Foligno a little creepy, especially at night. DH and I spent five nights near Foligno (in Le Case Gialle, near Gualdo Cuttaneo) and tried to have dinner in Foligno one night. Maybe it was because we were there in March, but the town was just about dead at night and this was on a Friday night. The people who were out that night were groups of Italian men that blatantly stared at me. Now I am used to Italian men looking (I'm young and blonde so I guess I stick out) but I found the whole situation a little discomforting. Not only that, but we walked around for a good hour and couldn't find a single place to eat. So yes, I found Foligno rather creepy and lacking charm. But again, these are just my own personal opinions. Maybe its more lively during certain times of the year.


I agree with the above; without a car I would stick to a larger town. Spello is a beautiful town but it is quite tiny. Without a car you would be kind of stuck there and would no doubt get bored after the first day. I still say Assisi would be a good base. It has a train station and its a big enough town that one could spend a few days in without getting too bored. From the train station you could visit some of the other towns. Perugia would also be a good option. We didn't visit there (DH took one look at it and said there was no way he would drive there...he tends to get a little nervous when driving!) but from my research the town looks very interesting.

Have you considered renting a car? Its really not that bad, and would give you much more freedom to explore some of the smaller towns that Umbria has to offer.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Jan 31st, 2007, 09:48 AM
  #20  
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I have to say I'm a bit confused as to being "locked in" to Spello without a car. It was my understanding that the train ride to Assisi is only 10 min. and one could also travel to Perugia? Maybe I have my train lines confused?
justburg is offline  

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