La Culla dell'Anima

Day Trips

Assisi Orvieto Deruta Spoleto San Gemini Todi


There are many great towns and cities that are easily accessible from the house by car and beautiful to visit for a half day or full day visit. Here are the main ones, although once you get here, you will discover many other towns and hamlets worth seeing, as well.

ASSISI

Assisi is the home of St. Francis. Sitting on a mountain top, it’s majestic presence is visible from miles away. The city is beautiful, spiritual…..and touristy. The shops are filled with trinkets of St. Francis. But the main church is stunning. And vast. St. Francis’ tomb rests there as well, and is usually open to the public. Along the two main roads leading to the church, there are several little restaurants, as well as coffee bars and pizzerias if you just want a light bite or a drink.

While in Assisi, you should stop in and see SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI. The 8th largest church in the world, it is situated at the base of Assisi, or ‘Assisi scalo’. You can visit on your way up to the city or when you come back down. The church was the original center of Franciscanism and the place St. Francis asked to be brought to when he was dying. Today it is the destination site for many religious pilgrimages.

Assisi is about 70 km from Avigliano; an hour to an hour and ten minutes.

PERUGIA

Perugia is the capital of Umbria. It is a lively, active and cultural town, partly due to its history and partly because the University of Perugia is situated there. The Galleria Nazionale is the main museum, right off the main piazza, called Piazza IV Novembre. The artwork of several Umbrian artists is housed there, most notably that of Perugino. There are escalators that take you from the lower part of the city, outside the city walls, into the center. They travel through the underground ruins of the city and are well worth the ride.

Perugia is not big at all, so it’s easy to see in a few hours. You can have lunch outside in one of the restaurants off the main piazza. Or some homemade Perugina chocolate in one of the coffee bars! You can easily see Assisi and Perugia in one day; perhaps drive early in the morning to Assisi first, have lunch there and then drive to Perugia later in the afternoon, when the shops open after the lunchtime break.

50 km from the house, you can drive there in about 45 minutes.

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DERUTA

If you like hand-painted ceramics, Deruta is Umbria’s center for ceramic artisans, and has been since the 13th century. Deruta is a tiny town, with nothing but one dazzling shop after another. Each with its own style and design. Often you’ll find the artists busy painting their clay plates and pots right in the shops, before firing them in the kilns. The ceramics are mostly very expensive, but you can find little shops off the main streets that are a bit more economical. And some of the shops at the bottom of the hill (you’ll see them as soon as you exit the highway, in ‘Deruta scalo’, before you drive up the road into the center of town) are cheaper as well because they’re a little bit outside the heart of the town. Some also operate as outlets for the shops in the center.

Stop in at the FORNACE SAN LORENZO, which is the only restored, surviving kiln from the Renaissance. The studio has been in the same family for 400 years and the owners will be happy to show you the old ‘factory’ underground. It’s at via el Frate, #11 – when you walk through the archway into Deruta, it’s off to the left.

Deruta is good to visit on the way to or from a visit to Assisi or Perugia. It’s right on the way.

TODI

Todi is situated at the top of a steep hill. You can either climb to the main piazza by foot, window shopping along the way, or find the escalator that takes you to the top. Once there, you’ll be in the Piazza del Popolo, where you can see the Duomo as well as the palazzo building.

I think Todi is nice to visit before dinner. Walk around. Then have a glass of prosecco or wine in the piazza and dinner in one of the restaurants nearby.

It’s about a 30 minute drive.

ORVIETO

Orvieto is a real city. Very sophisticated. There are lots of shops, restaurants, and, of course, the Duomo (cathedral). Sitting in Piazza del Duomo, it has a magnificent black and white striped façade and inside you’ll see amazing frescoes. There is a medieval underground city – a labyrinth of wine cellars, aqueducts and wells. You can sign up for a guided tour, or just explore it yourself.

In Orvieto you can find places to have just a cheese plate with some local wine, or real restaurants with amazing food. There are good ceramic shops, and several “alimentari” – food shops with the region’s specialties – olive oil, white wine, biscotti, prosciutto di cinghiale (prosciutto made from wild boar – a specialty of Umbria) and fabulous cheese, made mostly from sheep and goat milk.

Orvieto is a good hour’s drive.

SPOLETO

Spoleto is a good sized town with lots of shops selling local food specialties and beautiful fabrics. It is also the city where the Spoleto Festival is held every July, with performing groups from all over the world coming to participate. The stunning Duomo is situated in the Piazza del Duomo. And beyond it is the Piazza Campello, with amazing panoramic views of Umbria and the Rocca, a 6-towered citadel from the 14th century.

Spoleto is a 50 to 60 minute drive.

MONTEFALCO

Montefalco is a small town that sits high in the mountains, with beautiful views of Umbria from the top. When you enter the gates of the city you walk straight up to the Piazza del Comune, the central square, from which all of Montefalco’s streets radiate out. Worth visiting are the Renaissance frescoes and bas reliefs in the 14th century church of San Francesco.

Montefalco is famous for its wine and linens and you’ll find many shops selling them both inside the city gates and out. For wine I especially like a little shop outside the gates called VINO & OLIO, at vicolo del Mercato, #7. The owner is very nice and offers tastings. She has a good range of prices so you can buy an everyday wine to take back to the house or something more expensive to bring home.

It’s a beautiful drive through the countryside, with lots of vineyards and olive trees on either side of the road. Also worth seeing, nearby, is the small hamlet of Bevagna.

It is about a 40 minute drive.

SAN GEMINI

San Gemini is a sleepy little town, very close to Avigliano Umbro. There’s not much there, a few shops, plus the natural springs that produce the San Gemini water you buy everywhere in Italy. You can usually drive through the springs by car. There is a marvelous restaurant there, called TAVERNA DEL TORCHIO, where you should try and have a meal.

Taking the local roads, you’ll arrive in 10 or 15 minutes.