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Umbria: Italy's green heart has property buyers' pulses racing

  •  By Stefania Russo, written 02 October 2020

Some Umbrians will tell you that it’s no coincidence that the region’s name sounds so familiar to the Italian word ombra, or shadow, so long has it found itself overshadowed by its more celebrated neighbour Tuscany. Yet Umbria’s relative tranquillity, far from the madding crowds of all those Tuscan tourist traps, is one of its big advantages.

Known as the green heart of Italy, thanks both to its numerous national parks and lush valleys cut through the landscape by the River Tiber as it makes its way out to sea, and to its geographical position at the centre of the country.

It’s a heart that’s beating increasingly fast when it comes to property values. A 2011 extension to Perugia’s San Francesco d'Assisi airport saw it upgrade from a national to an international air travel hub, which in turn has seen better transport links and an additional impetus for property prices, rising an average 10 per cent a year since the early 1990s.


With the Apennines perched on its eastern border, Umbria’s weather is heavily influenced by its landlocked setting. July and August are the hottest months, with typical maximum temperatures of around 29°C and 30°C and 10 hours a day of bright sunshine. However, December to February can see temperatures drop to freezing and snow in mountainous areas.

This scenic, unspoilt region is best explored on foot. St Francis of Assisi famously did just that in 1206, when he walked from Assisi to Gubbio, 25 miles to the north. Many present-day visitors make good use of the numerous hiking trails, one of the most well-trodden being a two-day walk that recreates St Francis's epic journey. For those who prefer a more leisurely way of taking in the sights, Umbria's beauty can be appreciated just as well by car.

Perugia, the capital

This is a region of hilltop towns, rather than sprawling cities. The best place to start is Perugia, Umbria’s capital, sitting bang in the middle of the region and home to just 149,000 people, despite its size and status.

Among its many attractions is the Temple of Sant'Angelo, a 15OO-year-old round church made in part from Roman ruins, and San Pietro, a medieval church with walls adorned with paintings and frescoes. There is also a series of escalators leading up a steep hill and passing through an Etruscan fort.

Perugia, one of the most famous Italian university cities for foreigners, and with one of the oldest universities in Italy, dating back to 14th century, offers variety of courses in all fields of education to circa 23,000 students, boasting several centres of excellence.  Famous for its annual music festivals, including its celebrated Umbria Jazz Festival (taking place in July, everyone from James Brown to Elton John has made an appearance) and the October’s Eurochocolate festival, no wonder many young people decide to study in this charming people-size city.

For something more highbrow – and less fattening – there’s the National Gallery, home to some wonderful Renaissance works by Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and a host of Umbrian masters, including Benedetto Bonfigli, Perugino and Pintoricchio.

An hour’s drive or so the northwest, lies Tuoro sul Trasimeno, overlooking Lake Trasimeno. It was founded on the site of a 217BC battle between Hannibal and the Roman army. As well as the tranquil lake views, it’s also worth taking a look at the 12th-century San Salvatore church and the Castle of Mont Gualandro.

Leaving Tuoro and working your way clockwise around Umbria, you come to the town of Gubbio, some 40 miles away. lt boasts an impressive first-century BC Roman amphitheatre and is one of Italy’s best preserved medieval towns.

Festivals for all

A few miles south is Gualdo Tadino, known for its ceramics and with notable attractions including the 12th-century Rocca Flea military fort, visible from miles around. If you are here during the last week of September, be sure to catch the three-day Giochi delle Pone festival, a colourful medieval games tournament.

Assisi requires a brief detour but is worth it. Perugia may be Umbria’s capital, but this town remains its artistic and spiritual centre. You can’t miss the huge church commemorating St Francis, with its two basilicas. Construction on the complex began in 1228 and it’s one of Italy’s most popular religious sites, so if you’re visiting during the peak holiday season, don’t expect much in the way of solitude (plan an off-peak trip however and you could be pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds).

The next stop on the journey south should be Spoleto, which has a still-in-use Roman theatre and splendid 12th-century cathedral. Every summer, the city is taken over by the two-week Festival Dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds), an international music event.

Finally, the journey westwards brings you to Todi, with its imposing cathedral and medieval central square, and Orvieto, known for its 13th-century cathedral and fine wines, two of the most refined and most expensive towns in Umbria but the views are breathtaking.

The property market

Prices of properties in Umbria in towns around Lake Trasimeno as well as near the border of Tuscany, are affected by the vicinity of Tuscany five miles away, so expect to pay from around €500,000 for large three-bedroom villas and country homes. However, there are bargains in Umbria to be had, with a two-bedroom town house or semi-detached properties for €150,000 and apartments in a complex with lake views from €95,000.

Property in Umbria is more affordable the further you get from the Tuscan borders or South of Umbria, closer to the Lazio border. Towns and countryside around the medieval towns of Amelia, Giove and the city of Terni, are just over 1hr’s drive from Rome city centre and 3-4 bedroom country homes can start from €300,000 while little town houses or apartments for sale in Umbria – 1 or 2 bedroom around 50-70 sq m, can be found below €100,000.

If you are looking for a similar property for sale in Todi it will come with a €250,000 tag.

As ever, buying a rundown property in need of restoration is often a cheaper option. Expect in this cases a third of the Tuscan price with townhouses and apartments to be restored for sale under €50,000, country houses for restoration for sale from €200000, large estates at €400,000/500,000.

But let’s not forget who might be looking for large properties that could be used as private luxury residences as well as boutique hotels. Celebrities such as actor Colin Firth and musician Ed Sheeran, both living close to Città della Pieve, close to the Tuscan border and near Lake Trasimeno, have chosen Umbria as their holiday destination and there are plenty of beautiful luxury home for sale with prices from €1mill.

Search for your property in Umbria with us and see some example of UMBRIAN PROPERTIES CURRENTLY ON WEBSITE:

Country home with swimming pool: Casale Barthy

Estate to restore: Podere Palazzo

Apartment in complex: Apartment Amalia

Panoramic rustic building to restore: Casale Sauro

Agriturismo for sale: Madonna delle Grazie Countryhouse



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