There's something so magical about small towns in the rolling hills of Italy. These are towns filled with friendly locals who never hesitate to a shout an amiable buongiorno your way. Towns with stunning views from every direction and incredible cathedrals. These are towns with histories filled with tales of mighty rule and incredible decline. Hope beyond all hope that you'll get lucky enough to be in these towns during one of their weekly markets or annual festivals. Take a deep breath of fresh air and wander around the narrow, winding streets without any sort of direction. Taste some local cheese and wine. Explore Umbria.
Civita di Bagnoregio:
Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most unique places I've ever been. For one thing, you have to walk across a long bridge to get to it because it is literally placed directly on top of a quickly eroding hill. The other interesting thing is that there are only 6 permanent residents in the entire town. I suppose this has to do with the whole quickly eroding thing. This little town was founded over 2500 years ago by the Etruscans, the empire that Tuscany is named after. The most striking feature of Civita di Bagnoregio for me is the view from the modern (and much safer) suburb, Bagnoregio. It's just absolutely stunning. One word of advice: You probably shouldn't go visit Civita di Bagnoregio when it is raining. Trust us. We learned this the hard way. lolz
Things you should do in Civita di Bagnoregio: Take in the view of the town before you walk across the bridge. Enjoy the subtle beauty of the ancient buildings as you wander around the town. Peek into the cathedral. Eat some bruschetta. Check out one of the 1000+ year old olive presses in the town's restaurants.
Welcome to to the city that is home to the most colorful and interesting cathedral in all of Italy (I'm convinced). The front of the cathedral is bursting with colorful mosaics and intricate carvings and sculptures while the sides of the cathedral are more subtly done with an awesome striped pattern of different colored stones. While you might be tempted to spend all day staring at the cathedral, you should also leave some time to explore Orvieto's underground city. These underground passageways, tunnels, and rooms were originally created by Orvieto's elite residents as way to escape the city when it was under siege back in the day. So cool!
Things you should do in Orvieto: Ride the funicular up the side of the hill to reach the old town. Enjoy studying the facade of the most unique cathedral in Europe (behind the Sagrada Familia of course!) Climb the clock tower in the center of town for a stunning view of the cathedral and the rest of Orvieto. Take an underground tour of the city. If you don't have time for that, then at least check out the Pozzo di San Patrizio, a huge well that was commissioned by Pope Clement VII in the 16th century.
Monteleone d'Orvieto is one of the most charming towns I've ever seen. The balconies and stairs of the gorgeous houses were dripping in flower pots and plants. Every person we passed smiled and nodded at us even though I'm sure they were all confused as to why there were strange foreigners taking a million photos of their homes.
Things you should do in Monteleone d'Orvieto: Wander around. Drink a coffee in one of the few cafes in the old town area of Monteleone d'Orvieto. Peek into the church. Check out the remains of the medieval walls. Enjoy the serenity of small town life.
Citta della Pieve:
We didn't expect to fall in love with Citta della Pieve as much as we did. We stopped in it because it was on our way home from the rest of the little towns we explored that day. We were expecting it to be much smaller, so we didn't expect to spend much time there. But this was the most lively town we visited that day! We stumbled upon a biannual market filled with stall after stall of traditional Italian delicacies, artisan crafts, and even some Italian craft beer! We sampled a ton of cheese, olives, and olive oil and purchased (extremely stale) biscotti - oops. I loved the vibrant colors of the buildings, the terracotta details, and the unexpected alleys.
Things you should do in Citta della Pieve: Find a map of the historic center all around the old town and follow the tourist path. You'll see beautiful piazzas, an extremely narrow "kissing lane," art galleries, cathedrals and churches, and the remains of an old city wall. Sample some local cheese and olive oil and buy a scoop or two of gelato.
Have you ever visited the Italian region of Umbria?
It is quite possibly my favorite region I've visited in Italy so far. Molto bellissimo.