Umbria is a region with immense tourist potential. However, as a result of inadequate hotel facilities and road and rail links, mass tourism still tends to pass it by. Umbria is the ideal place for visitors seeking the beauties of unspoilt Nature, and the splendours of medieval and Renaissance art, or wishing to follow itineraries of historical and religious interest in the countryside that gave birth to St. Benedict, St. Rita and, especially, St. Francis.
Pride of place must go to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. This little town, at the foot of Mount Subasio, conserves masterpieces, not only valuable and beautiful but also mystically evocative. These include St. Francis', basilica, two buildings built superimposed (13th century), decorated with paintings and frescoes by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero Lorenzetti and their pupils; St. Clare's basilica (13th century) with frescoes of the Giotto school and the Romanesque basilica of St. Rufino (12th-13th century) where St. Francis was baptized. In the neighbourhood lie the basilica of St. Maria degli Angeli (16th century) with the Porziuncola Chapel, St. Damian's convent (12th century) and particularly the Eremo delle Carceri on the slopes of Subasio, where St. Francis retired to meditate and pray; this building is surrounded by luxuriant vegetation, almost as though isolated from all dimension of time. Taking the most northerly part of the region as a starting point, other places of interest in the Tiber Valley are: Città di Castello, with the beautiful 14th century churches of St. Dominic and St. Francis and the Gothic Town Hall; deviating eastwards further down the valley one finds Gubbio, a small ancient Umbrian town that has conserved its medieval appearance and outstanding monuments such as the Roman Theatre (Augustan Age), the Palazzo Ducale (16th century), the Gothic Church of St. Francis.
Returning south, near the Marches border lie Gualdo Tadino, Nocera Umbra, and Foligno with its 12th century Duomo, with a Romanesque façade. Nearby is Spello, an ancient Roman centre (with many Roman remains) where the church of St. Maria Maggiore (13th century) with famous frescoes by Pinturicchio, and St. Andrew's Church (13th century) can be visited. If the visitor is lucky enough to be present on Corpus Domini Day, he will see the evocative Infiorata, when all the streets are carpeted with flower displays forming decorations or religious ../images.
Going down towards Terni, after visiting the Romanesque Churches of San Silvestro and San Michele at Bevagna, the visitor reaches Montefalco, in a splendid panoramic position, with interesting religious buildings. Further south lies Trevi and a visit should be made to the idyllic surroundings of the Springs of Clitunno and the little early Christian church nearby. Spoleto, further on, is the ancient capital of the Lombard Duchy, rich in works of art (including the Arch of Druso, the Romanesque Church of Sant'Eufemia and the Duomo), and famous for the Festival of the Two Worlds with its splendid theatrical productions, concerts and artistic events. Turning west in the Tiber Valley, the visitor reaches Todi, with its fine main square flanked by medieval buildings and the Duomo (13th century).
Then Orvieto appears perched on a tufa hill, an ancient Etruscan town, with a wealth of monuments of artistic interest, including the Romanesque-Gothic Palazzo del Popolo and the famous Duomo, one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic architecture housing many famous paintings (L. Signorelli, Beato Angelico).
In the introduction, mention has already been made of other places of interest to visitors, such as peaceful Lake Trasimeno, surrounded by olive-clad slopes and the impressive Marmore Falls, a series of three waterfalls, 165 m in height. Not far away lies picturesque Piediluco lake. For the visitor seeking more remote and lonely areas in which to trek or ride a horse, then the wild uncontaminated Val Nerina of great environmental interest, is the place to choose.