A poet once called Umbria the green heart of Italy. One of the smallest of all the Italian provinces (only 8,500 square kilometers) what Umbria lacks in size it more than makes up for in spectacularly dramatic landscapes, art and architecture. It is the only province in Italy not bordered by the sea and it has a distinctly different feeling from its close neighbor Tuscany. How? It is wilder, more rugged, less manicured, covered with lush green forests, rolling hills, sleepy little hill towns and peaceful valleys.

Among Umbria's most interesting towns are Perugia with its cobblestone streets and aqueduct turned walkway; Deruta just south of Perugia, considered by many to be the ceramics capital of Italy; Spoleto where for two weeks every June artists musicians and dancers come from all over the world for an internationally famous arts festival; Todi a beautiful medieval town now very popular with the Americans and British; Orvieto with its Etruscan Necropolises and magnificent cathedral; Assisi still as peaceful as when St. Francis lived there and Gubbio, the beautifully preserved hill town that pre dates the Etruscan

When driving through the rich countryside in Umbria don't be surprised if you have to pull over to let a Shepherd cross the road with his flock. No one is in much of a hurry here. Be careful, it's catching!