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Joanada Nov 28th, 2007 02:42 PM


Is Umbria worth seeing some of the towns? Spoleta and Spello, Norcia?

We don't have time to go up to Tuscany so wondering if this area is worth taking a look? Also has anyone stayed at the hotel, LL Falconiere outside Corona? Also, staying at Pallazzo Bocci in Spello ?

Thanks for any help. Joan

Grinisa Nov 28th, 2007 04:06 PM

Yes, Umbria is definitely worth seeing. It is my favorite region in Italy. Spello is charming and Norcia is a gastronomic center, set in a beautiful mountain region. I'm not a huge fan of Spoleto. Other towns well worth seeing are Assisi, Perugia, Montefalco, Todi and Bevagna. Orvieto is also in Umbria but so close to Lazio many make it a daytrip from Rome. I haven't stayed at either hotel you mention but they have received good reviews on this site and others.

Clarin Nov 28th, 2007 04:29 PM

Yes, Umbria is worth it. Alas, did not stay at your hotels; we rented a "villa" in Todi for several weeks & it was lovely. Marvelous, post-card type town w/delightful restaurants, shops & locals. Daytrips to Orvieto, Perugia and Sienna, all of which were absolutely unforgettable.

rosetravels Nov 28th, 2007 07:36 PM

We loved Spoleto and Norcia and Assissi. We stayed for several days at the Hotel Charleston in Spoleto and it was lovely. We stumbled upon a piano practice session in an old chapel, attended a piano concert in a church, and walked the viaduct trail for hours.

Norcia was amazing - the food! And the murals at Assissi were all I'd hoped.

GBC Nov 28th, 2007 07:42 PM


Let me add another vote for Umbria. We loved it. Consider Assisi if time allows.

We tried Falconiere but it was full. We went instead to Romantik Hotel Villa de Monesolare which did not disappoint us.

Jean Nov 28th, 2007 08:50 PM

Another vote for Umbria, but I'm getting worried that the word is out and it will get too popular. We have stayed in Perugia, Spoleto and (not as recently) Gubbio and Todi.

Although Perugia and Spoleto are larger and lower on the charm scale, we had some of our most memorable meals in both towns and really enjoyed our times there. My favorite Umbrian town is Gubbio, but I also love the entire area immediately north of Spoleto. Also, the beautiful drive between Spoleto and Todi... Drat. Who can choose?

annw Nov 28th, 2007 09:27 PM

Another vote for Umbria. I went there on my last trip for the first time and was very glad I took the time. I got a lot of good advice here and ended up staying over in Perugia (big town) and Assisi (smaller town) though I would like to get to Spello and Orvieto at least on my next trip.

MichaelT Nov 28th, 2007 10:41 PM

Add another vote for the area. We spent a couple of days in Spoleto on one of our Italy trips. I have to agree with Jean's post... I've been to Italy about a dozen times and I still consider each of the meals I had in Spoleto to be some of the best I've ever had in Italy. We also did the viaduct walk which created some great photo ops. The area is wonderful but also as Jean said, I too am afraid the word will get out about the area!

We stayed at the Hotel Gattapone while there which is at a very picturesque location at the top of the main hill in the town. The room had a beautiful view and the service was excellent.

vincenzod Nov 29th, 2007 12:12 AM

Umbria is the green heart of Italy and, really, in my opinion, it is a region that deserves a calm and not short visit. The gimmick to appreciate Umbria, in my opinion, is to feel ourselves temporary umbri citizens rather than tourist and this approach will enable us to enjoy every moment of the day, as Umbri do.
I agree also with the high quality of meal in Spoleto.


tcreath Nov 29th, 2007 05:37 AM

I loved Umbria! We spent 5 nights in a gorgeous agriturismo (le Case Gialle) just outside of Bevagna and used this as our base for exploring Montefalco, Bevagna, Assisi, Todi, Trevi, Deruta, Spello (our favorite) and, further away, Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio.


Joanada Nov 29th, 2007 05:46 AM


Thanks for the feedback. Sounds lovely and beautiful scenery. I guess you don't see really high mountains till you get around Norcia?

We were thinking staying at Spello and sightsee from there. I keep thinking doing a trip up to Florence, but then if your time is very limited, not sure would be worth the time going up and forfeiting Umbria.

Thanks again, Joan

Joanada Nov 29th, 2007 06:08 AM


I forgot to ask about a car rental. How easy is it driving around these towns and parking or is it better to hire a driver and car?

Thanks, Joan

mermaid_ Nov 29th, 2007 06:22 AM

Joan, we rented a car when we visited Umbria and drove to many of the towns mentioned--Gubio, Todi, Orvieto, Assisi. I didn't think the hilly roads were any trouble. I've seens roads in England and France that were much more narrow and windy than those in Umbria!

Dayle Nov 29th, 2007 08:28 AM


I stayed in Gubbio, Assisi and Spello (at Palazzo Bocci). Visited Montefalco (be sure to try the local wine, Sagrantino di Montefalco)from Spello. Visited Todi and Deruta on a different trip. Loved the region and towns.

Highly recommend Palazzo Bocci, but book early! Also highly recommend dinner at their restaurant, Il Mulino, a highlight!

Driving in the region is super easy, just as easy as Tuscany countryside. I dropped my car in Foligno where the Avis office is in the same building as the train station. About 1 hr 40 minutes to Roma Termini.

Buon viaggio!

tcreath Nov 29th, 2007 10:24 AM

I recommend renting a car, and as others mentioned it was quite easy. Invest in a good map, although there are signs everywhere pointing you in the direction of the various towns.

We too dropped our car at the Avis office in Foligno at the train station. Super easy, and we hopped on a train to Rome.


Jean Nov 29th, 2007 10:34 AM

Another opinion that driving in Umbria is pretty easy. We have used maps of the Italian Touring Club which were especially useful in finding parking in the different towns. And their maps are topographical, so they also help in deciding where to enter the towns on foot to avoid the steepest climbs. The Club has a guidebook for Umbria with good sightseeing info, suggested driving routes and recommended restaurants and hotels. I bought the guidebook at Barnes & Noble but can't remember where I bought the maps (possibly in Italy). Try B&N or

maitaitom Nov 29th, 2007 11:32 AM

We also loved Palazzo Bocci. Spello makes a great base to see Assisi, Perugia, Gubbio and Spoleto.

If you go to Gubbio, ride the Bucket of Bolts!


Jean Nov 29th, 2007 12:33 PM

Maitaitom, we called it The Birdcage ("L'uccelliera")!

charnees Nov 29th, 2007 01:09 PM

Well, the "Birdcage" is a funicular or "ski lift" to the top of the mountain above town in Gubbio which is OK unless you are acrophobic like my husband.

As for driving, yes, it's easy to get around in Umbria, but don't drive INTO the towns, as you will find them very congested and with lots of narrow one-way streets. Once in Perugia we got lost and ended up in a street that was so narrow we had to fold in the side mirrors! We were terrified that the next turn would be a dead end, as we would have had no way to get out! But luckily we ended up in a piazza just about where we had started.

Anyway, the small towns like Spoleto or Gubbio are easily walkable, and Perugia has good bus service.


annieladd Nov 29th, 2007 02:20 PM

We stayed in Spoleto, at Palazzo Dragoni. The hotel rooms are large, maybe a bit gently worn, but really quite nice for the price, and with beautiful views. We also had a couple of great meals in Spoleto. The drive to Norcia is quite lovely, just don't leave too late in the day, I wouldn't want to be taking that drive back to the main highway after dusk.

vetralla Nov 30th, 2007 02:16 AM

Guidebook writer's tips for Umbria:
-check out the Genius Loci country Inn, run by an Italian-American family in Bevagna
-prettiest towns: Bevagna,Spello, Assisi.
-best shopping: wine, local foods, truffles, olive oil, textiles including beautiful hand loomed runners, tableclothes,etc.
-best guide, Anne Robichaud

Joanada Nov 30th, 2007 06:45 AM


Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. I have just booked the hotel Palazzo Bocci, in Spello as it sounds really nice. We are there for 3 nights , all we can spare for this trip. Want to see Gubbio and Norcia if weather permitting, April 10/11/12.

Have lots of books on the area to learn. Also will have lunch and see Spolento on way to Norcia.

Thanks again, Joan

Judi Nov 30th, 2007 06:56 AM

We loved Palazzo Bocci as well; I'm sure you will enjoy your time there.

Our favorite restaurant in Spello was La Bastiglia.

Happy travels!

Ralstonlan Nov 30th, 2007 07:06 AM

Read Maitaitom's trip report.
It is an inspiration for a trip to Umbria!;tid=34691579

maitaitom Nov 30th, 2007 07:14 AM

"Read Maitaitom's trip report.
It is an inspiration for a trip to Umbria!"

Or at least a good primer on how not to fill up your rental car. Thanks Ralstonian for the nice words.


Ralstonlan Nov 30th, 2007 07:20 AM


I speak only of the truth! Your trip report was my inspiration for our week in Umbria in '06.

zoecat Nov 30th, 2007 01:59 PM

Just a note about Norcia-

If you go to Norcia, you must visit the Piano Grande, about 45 minutes away. It is spectacular! I am not sure you can also visit Spoleto the same day. You really could spend the entire day in and around Norcia. It is a beautiful area.


Joanada Nov 30th, 2007 02:30 PM


I read the last post about Norcia. What is Piano Grand? A place or monastery?

If your time is limited would you go to Norica (do you actually see peaked mountains) or would you concentrate on the towns in the Spello area?

Thanks again, Joan

zoecat Nov 30th, 2007 04:25 PM

Hi Joan,

The Piano Grande is a huge valley located above Norcia. You take a winding road up a mountain to get there. Google it and you can find more information. I believe the guidebook Rough Guide for Umbria also has some info.

Norcia sits in a valley surrounded by mountains. I would say that the mountains are nice, but it's the combination of the mountains, the valley and the town that make Norcia special. With 20+ trips to Italy, my day trip to Norcia and the Piano Grande was one of my favorites.

I also enjoyed visiting the towns near Spello (and Spello itself). Gubbio (although it's about an hour from Spello) is great and there are not many tourists. Same with Trevi (15 minutes from Spello). You will enjoy Montefalco, Bavagna, Todi and of course, there's Assisi. There are also lots of smaller towns that I enjoyed. The Touring Club of Italy guidebook is terrific for suggested walks through the towns.

I plan to spend 5 days in Umbria this May, staying just outside of Bavagna. Last year I stayed 7 days and felt I just scratched the surface of exploring Umbria.

I'm not sure how many days you have, but with just a few days I think you would enjoy the towns near Spello. If you feel like an adventure and a day different from the rest, you could visit Norcia and the Piano Grande. Make sure it's a sunny day though.

maitaitom Nov 30th, 2007 04:31 PM

"The Piano Grande is a huge valley located above Norcia"

And to think I always thought The Piano Grande was the home of Elton John, Billy Joel and Liberace!


Jean Nov 30th, 2007 05:53 PM

Notes on Gubbio.

There are two roads to Gubbio, from Foligno and from near Perugia. The one from near Perugia is more scenic and less traveled by trucks. I would use the Perugia route in the morning so that you can enjoy the scenery. In the afternoon, you'll be driving toward the setting sun and it can be very glary on a sunny day.

When you reach the town, look for signs directing you to the Roman amphitheatre. You'll find a large, free parking lot adjacent to the ruins and easy entry to the town across the street. The ruins are open for up-close exploration.

We had a very nice lunch at Ristorante Picchio Verde (named after the local endangered green woodpecker), via Savelli della Porta 65, Gubbio. We were the only tourists; the rest were locals. The servers' English was limited but sufficient. 25 euros without wine.

Jean Nov 30th, 2007 06:13 PM

I'm not sure how realistic it is to stop in Spoleto for lunch on the way to Norcia. Consider time spent over lunch and just making your way there and then to Norcia. If you wander through parts of the Spoleto (all the best bits are near the top), you'll run out of time. However, if you can get a very early start and discipline yourselves, I highly recommend:

Osteria del Trivio
via del Trivio, 16

If you get to Todi, I highly recommend:

Ristorante Umbria
via S. Bonaventura, 13

rosetravels Nov 30th, 2007 06:30 PM

Hi Joan - we went to the Piano Grande as well and it was one of the most memorable places we visited in Italy. We spent the night at the town on the hill in the middle of the high valley. I think it's called Casteluccio. Really fascinating and beautiful.

vincenzod Dec 1st, 2007 12:01 AM

A tip in Bevagna for dinner and to sleep, also: PIAZZA ONOFRI.


Joanada Dec 1st, 2007 11:51 AM


What wonderful information . Norcia and the piano grande sounds great. I would think sunny day for it for scenery.

This is just two other questions for the area.
Any one been to Corona, and is it worth it from Spello?
Or is it the same scenery as around Spello?

Going from Rome anyone been to, Pitigliano? Probably not, as out of the way and not sure how far from Rome.

Thanks again, Joan

zoecat Dec 1st, 2007 02:00 PM

According to, it's a little over 2 hours from Spello to Pitigliano and then 2 hours from there to Rome. I would consider these minimum drive times. You could leave Spello around 7:00, arrive in Pitigliano around 10:00, wonder, have lunch, then head to Rome. It would be a long day and a short visit. I love Pitigliano.

Another idea which would maximize your time better and still be very rewarding would be to visit Spoleto, Todi or Orvieto on your way to Rome.

You asked about Corona, but I'm thinking your meant Cortona. Similar scenery to Spello. It's a beautiful town, with more tourists than Spello.

Joanada Dec 1st, 2007 02:25 PM


Thanks, it was Corona. Yes, I am sure it is more touristy, especially since the movie filmed there.

The smaller towns might be nice too, in the area, Montefalco, Trevi and Bevagna.

And they are fairly close to Spello.

Thanks for all this info. I made notes from them all.


We will be leaving April 8, so hope we don't run into too much rain in the area. :)

Joanada Dec 1st, 2007 02:30 PM

Cortona, sorry about that. lol Joan

Dayle Dec 1st, 2007 04:58 PM


I agree, I wouldn't drive all the way to Cortona, when Orvieto and Todi are on your way to Rome. Cortona is nice, but Todi is a lovely, untouristed hilltown. Orvieto is one of my very favorites!

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