Matt Munro

Umbria & Le Marche

Swaths of billowing green slopes cloaked by olive groves and sun-ripened wheat fields, castle-topped medieval towns and snow-capped Apennine peaks. No, not Tuscany but Umbria, its quieter and less-trodden neighbour, and Le Marche, one of Italy’s great unsung regions.

This lush and often sparsely populated part of central Italy is made for slow travel, for snaking along winding back roads to enchanting hill towns such as Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio and Urbino, and for revelling in fine food and wine. The cultural menu is equally rich, and Renaissance masterpieces by artists such as Giotto and local-born heroes Raphael and Perugino grace many of the regions’ churches and museums. Music lovers are also well served, with summer opera in Macerata, Pesaro and Spoleto, and jazz in Perugia.

The scenery is often stunning, especially in the wild and mysterious Monti Sibillini and the Parco del Conero, where white cliffs plunge into the glittering Adriatic.

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