Cycling Umbria

Vacations in the Green Heart of Italy

Umbria And Perugia

Halfway between Rome and Florence lies the region of Umbria, “The Green Heart of Italy”. Here you will find ruggedly beautiful countryside surrounded by soft hills, mountains, and one of Italy's largest lakes, the Trasimeno. It is a region of ancient spirituality with numerous medieval convents, churches, and monasteries. In the hill-top towns, an atmosphere of other times permeates the narrow roads, which can only be traveled by foot or bike. The antique traditions and artistic treasures are best discovered gradually, and are often missed by the distracted traveler. The cuisine and wines rival those of neighboring Tuscany.

Rising up in the middle of Umbria is Perugia, an ancient city with a modern spirit. It is a city of steep hills and endless stairs, closed in by the Etruscan walls which were built between 400 and 300 B.C. The Etruscan, Roman, and Gothic architecture exist together harmoniously, leaving a lasting impression of the cultures that have come and gone.

The cultural center of Perugia is the magnificent Piazza IV Novembre. The centerpiece is the Fontana Maggiore, a beautiful fountain built in the 13th century. Rising above it is the Palazzo dei Priori, one the city's finest examples of medieval architecture. The plaza is also the city's hip spot, where students from around the world gather to sip beer on the church steps before heading to one of the bars dug out in the basements of the ancient buildings.

Accommodations

The Casale I Perugini is nestled in the countryside about 10km from Perugia. This converted farm house with spacious apartments is the perfect place to relax after a challenging morning bike ride. Swim in the outdoor pool, read a book in the garden, or just take a nap in your private bedroom. Your hostess is Valentina, a native of Umbria whose family has owned the Casale for over 50 years.

Experience The Culture

You will have one to two days to take a break from riding and experience the richness of the region. On Tuesday, we'll take a day trip to the historic center of Perugia, followed by a guided tour of the Carini Winery, a traditional family winery in the rolling hills of Umbria. We will be treated to a tasting of their wide variety of excellent wines and a walk through the vineyard to learn about the unique grapes. The winery also produces it's own olive oil and charcuteries.

Saturday will be yours to relax or explore the region on your own. Take the train to Assisi, birthplace of St Francis and home to his chapel. Take a scenic drive to the towns of Orvieto and Gubbio; each have their own rich culture and history that predates medieval times. If you're not in a traveling mood, spend the day at the Casale reading, swimming, cooking, or learning about the local culture from Valentina. Or, if you just can't get enough riding, Jeff will be happy to share more of his favorite routes.

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