Known as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is for me a very Italian region. It does not have a large city like Rome or Milan that sucks in the tourist masses but rather quietly gets on with business. There is a large university in Perugia and Assisi attracts huge numbers of pilgrims to the tomb of St. Francis, one of the two patron saints of the country – but this is an area that chooses not to blow its own trumpet.
Umbria lives in the shadow of its more famous neighbour, Tuscany, and the advantage for the visitor is that it is less crowded. So if you want to get under the skin of Italy why not spend some time exploring the delights of a hilltop town like Orvieto or spend some time on the banks of Lake Trasimeno? Here Hannibal defeated the Roman army on midsummer’s day in 217 BC when some 15,000 Roman soldiers were killed and a similar number captured. As with so many places in Italy, history is practically within touching distance.