Umbria sits in the shadow of Tuscany, its better-known northern neighbour, but is fast becoming a favoured destination for those who want to discover rural Italy away from the crowds. The area is predominantly rural, with no major cities and a small population of under a million. Umbria is landlocked and situated in the heart of Italy, north of Rome, with the Marches region to the east, Latium to the south and Tuscany to the north. Umbria is only one to two hours' drive from either the Rome or Pisa airports, and can be accessed via the A1 toll road which runs through the region from Rome to Florence.

The region is dotted with remarkably unspoilt medieval hill towns and villages, ancient castles and Roman ruins, and a rolling countryside of forests, olive groves and vineyards. The famous Tuscan towns of Florence, Siena and Pisa are all within driving distance, but Umbria also has many of its own magnificent sights. These include the cathedral facade in Orvieto, the Roman theatre in Spoleto and the town of Assisi, whose Basilica ranks among Italy's must-see sights along with Pompeii, St Mark's Square and the Colosseum.

Perugia is the region's main city and is the place to head for shopping, bars or any nightlife, but visitors are still more likely to visit Umbria to hike through the unspoilt countryside, slumber by the pool and enjoy the delicious local wine and food instead.

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