Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy. Having only a short time in Umbria we concentrated our time in Assisi and Orvieto principally because of their fusion of art and history and both are small medieval towns embedded in the hills.
Assisi is well preserved, welcoming, clean and perfect for wandering and exploring its Roman ruins, medieval streets and sacred shrines. Assisi lies 12 miles east of Perugia, capital of Umbria, at an elevation of 1,300 feet (400 meters) with a population or roughly 3,000 inhabitants and it attracts between 3-4 million visitors a year.
Assisi endured an earthquake in 1997 and it has been carefully restored and rebuilt in keeping with its historical roots. A holy city for Christians, Assisi sits on the slopes of Mt. Subasio, and has been the center of the Francisian Cult, a movement focused on peace and tolerance.
Arriving in Assisi, arriving late one afternoon we quickly set about wandering the streets leading from the main square. Archways abound in Assisi. Every street appeared to begin or lie beneath an archway. Everywhere one walks one is encircled by elegant and historic stone buildings, cobble stone lanes and gateway arches.
Assisi has retained its medieval architecture and its wondrous atmosphere. Wandering around one finds interesting details on the steep and picturesque lanes.
Orvieto sits high on a cliff of red volcanic rock overlooking the Umbrian plains half way between Rome and Florence. Orvieto is a city with significant cultural heritage and one of the oldest cities, owing its origins to the Etruscan civilisation. The first settlement dates to the 9th century BC.
Orvieto is charming and like Assisi has its own collection of well preserved cobbled streets. The back streets away from the main tourist thoroughfares reveal a slower pace of life and a step back in time.
Orvieto Cathedral is a large 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and took 300 years to complete. The Duomo is a balance of Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles. The immense size of the structure makes it difficult to photograph from ground level. The details on the cathedral facade from the golden mosaics, rose windows to the statues make it spectacular to behold. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful Cathedral in Italy. In addition to the exterior the interior surfaces within the cathedral are covered with frescoes. To captured the frescoes surrounding the main altar I placed the camera on the ground.