Long overshadowed by its western neighbor, Umbria deserves more than just a passing glance as a day trip from Tuscany—especially because the regions are so similar.
Very few of Italy's regions are entirely land-locked, but Umbria is. Tuscany is to the north and west, Le Marche to the east, and Lazio to the south. It's known as the “green heart of Italy” for its verdant hills and robust agricultural production, including several varietals of wine grapes. Umbria's landscape includes not only agricultural plains and hill towns but also part of the Apennine Mountains.
Umbria's sole UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world's most famous pilgrimage sites—the complex of buildings dedicated to St. Francis in Assisi. Other towns in the region may not have the name recognition of Tuscan cities, but they bear a striking resemblance—historic hill towns with cobbled streets and views over rolling hills. It's no longer completely under the tourist radar, but it may feel that way compared to Tuscany.
The fastest high-speed trains in Italy don't run into Umbria (at least not yet), but there's train service to all the major cities and most of the smaller cities and towns in the region. Because of the hills and mountains, not to mention the vast areas dedicated to farming, reaching the smaller towns in Umbria can be easier with a car.
Photo credit: leoks