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8 nights in Umbria and Rome: Itinerary help

8 nights in Umbria and Rome: Itinerary help

Old Aug 17th, 2022, 02:45 PM
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mdn
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8 nights in Umbria and Rome: Itinerary help

Hi!
My wife and I will be in Umbria and Rome in late October and early November. We’ll be flying into Milan after a long transcontinental flight. I’ve read various trip reports and restaurant recommendations for Umbria and Rome. Would love to seek advise on fine tuning the itinerary below.

Day 1: overnight Milan after arrival.
Day 2: Fly Milan-Rome, train to Spoleto (4 nights as base in Umbria). Explore Spoleto.

Day 3: Drive rental car Spoleto to Assisi through lunch and maybe Perugia in afternoon/evening. We are not the kind who’ll need several hours at a church or duomos. i.e; we love feeding our curiosity, but don’t need to become experts in the area.
Day 4: Orvieto. Lunch at Trattoria dell’Orso?
Day 5: Norcia through lunch and maybe Montefalco/other depending on your advise.

Day 6: Train to Rome for 4 nights. We haven’t been in 20 years. We’ve been to Italy a few times since with the last time being 2017. We will fly back to Milan after 4 nights in Rome for the penultimate night before our flight out.

Questions:
1) Should we stay all 4 nights in Spoleto or divide time between two different places? We love cities and though Spoleto has enough there to keep us entertained, we’ll be happy to change it up and maybe do two nights in a smaller town and two in a larger place. We chose Spoleto as it seems pretty central to the places we want to visit.

2) Are there Umbrian towns not on my list above that should be with the limited time we have? Where do I fit Spello into all this?

3) Welcome hotel suggestions. Generous budget if needed, but looking to get a sense of the local scene. I see from ekscrunchy ’s old Rome TR and others that Albergo del Senato in Rome is/was popular. Is is still good? My wife thinks perhaps we should be closer to the Spanish Steps. Thoughts? We love walking around a city and getting our bearings.

4) Restaurant recommendations in Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto, Spello, Norcia. I think I have a good handle on Rome from the old Franco files and other veterans on these boards! Hope those places are still good! Not necessarily looking for Michelin stars, but more of a local flavor with fresh produce. My wife has Celiac—it’s not been a problem in the past in Italy, but I suppose in smaller towns or places with fixed menus, it could become an issue. We love seasonal and regional: porcinis, porchetta and pumpkins—here I come!!

Appreciate all your feedback!
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 05:27 PM
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Only you can decide whether to spend all four nights in Spoleto. We spent two weeks in Spello and loved it there.Definitely visit it Bevagna, and Montefalco as day trips.
We strongly disliked staying near the Spanish Steps and recent news reports would continue to keep me away. We enjoy Piazza Navona and Pantheon areas.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 05:39 PM
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Hi mdn, All of my info is getting dated and I don't know if there was a fast train from Milan to Rome, but do check that out if you have not bought air tickets.

Here are my TRs including what you mentioned. I preferred Spoleto over Spello but that a subjective call.

Turin, Spoleto, Bologna and Bellagio TR


Perugia and Rome by train and bus

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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 06:07 PM
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I count 9 nights.

Can you change your arriving/departing flights to Rome? Having Malpensa at both ends of this itinerary makes for wasted time (and probably money) in what is an already short trip.

Day 2 isn't faster by plane. All that schlepping to/from airports, hoping the flight is on time... The train from Milano Centrale to Spoleto takes about 5 hours with a single change at Roma Termini. If the plane lands Malpensa in the morning on Day 1, I'd head to Spoleto immediately.

Day 3. You may not be into duomos, but don't underestimate how much time you'll want to spend in Assisi. Perugia is a fairly good-sized city. You can't drive into the historical center of either town, so your plans should include time to find parking and the walk (and/or escalators in Perugia) between your car and the center. Sunset will be at about 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. after Oct. 29). Are you comfortable driving back to Spoleto in the dark?

Day 4. Spoleto-Orvieto is about 90 minutes each way, not counting parking and walking or funicular to the center. That would be a bit too far for me for a day trip, but Orvieto is very interesting. The exterior of the Duomo is a must-see. I might rather spend the day going to Gubbio and then Spello or Montefalco on the return.

Day 5. After Norcia, I'd return to Spoleto to explore further. If you don't reach Spoleto late on Day 1, you won't have seen much on Day 2.

Day before departure. I'd train Rome to Milan and spend the night in Milan. If the next day's flight Rome-Milan was cancelled or seriously delayed, you might be scrambling.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 06:41 PM
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Although it has been a few years, we enjoyed our stay at the Hotel San Luca in Spoleto. It's at the bottom of the town and has easy ingress/egress for exploring the area by car.

The problem with recommending restaurants enjoyed in the past is that so many restaurants closed for good during the pandemic. In Spoleto, one casual favorite is gone. Another, Ristorante del Mercato, seems to be under new management... could be a son or daughter. It offers gluten-free options.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 02:25 PM
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Hi @HappyTrvlr , @TDudette and @Jean,
thanks for your tips. Alas, the itinerary is complicated: NY to Asia first (non vacation trip) and Italy vacation on the way back to NY from Asia. Hence, Milan in the best point of entry and exit. It’s a total of 10 nights if you count the first night in Milan on the way in after a long journey and the last one on the way out.

However, your train suggestion is brilliant! I think we will still need to stop on day 1 in Milan, but could train from Rome to Milan on the day of the flight (late afternoon departure) instead of spending that last night in Milan.
Thus that night could be added to Umbria or to Rome.

Also, based on the 90 minute driving time between Spoleto and Orvieto, we think we could do 3 nights in Spoleto and the fourth night in Orvieto allowing us a whole day in Orvieto. So:
Day 1 Milan,
Day 2 train to Spoleto with evening in Spoleto.
Day 3 drive to Perugia
morning and lunch and Assisi in afternoon and early evening.
Day 4: Spello and Montefalco maybe Bavagna or two of these (on a Sunday).
Day 5: Move to Orvieto and stay the night there.
Day 6- day 10/11 Rome.

If we add a night to Umbria, we may be able to visit Norcia. Not sure if late fall is the right time to visit, esp since we may not get the beautiful flowers on the Piano Grande drive at this time. Happy to add the night, else we will add it to Rome.

Re. Hotels and restaurants, my fingers are crossed that the old standbys are still going strong. Will certainly look at recent reviews. Welcome thoughts from anyone else that may have more recent feedback after the pandemic’s worst. Thank you!!

Last edited by mdn; Aug 18th, 2022 at 02:28 PM.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 02:56 PM
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Looking forward to reading all about your trip, mdn!
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 04:07 PM
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I was going to say that flying to Rome would be better than Milan but then saw your response to that. There are normally more flights from Asia to Rome than Milan but no doubt you've checked that. Certainly not having to return to Milan would be better (on a multi-city ticket).

I agree that train from Milan to Spoleto would be much better than flying. If your flight into Milan lands during the day, I'd continue on to Spoleto the same day. I'm always super cautious about not staying the night before my departure home within a taxi ride of my departure airport in case something goes awry.

I'd also check whether you are best staying in Orvieto before Spoleto as the train journey from Milan looks shorter.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 09:17 PM
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Hi MDN,
In Perugia, there is Sandri pastries and Talmone chocolate. Finding the the latter takes one thru a particularly atmospheric part of the city. The splurge there that we enjoyed was brunch at Hotel Brufani Palace.

Spello: Enoteca Properzio. It is a truly top-shelf wine experience. We opted for a simple salad lunch while ordering glasses of some Sagrantino, some passito and finally (sound of trumpets) **the finest Pinot Noir either my wife or I have ever tasted: Fendi from Valfabbrico, up near Perugia. Who knew, fantastic wine from a fashion house brand?! No Burgundy Pinot Noir in our experience has ever tasted as good. We splurged on buying a bottle to take with us. Our salad and also the chocolate biscotti that came with the passito dessert wine (Ruggeri) were both outstanding A+!
Owner Roberto Angelini and his adult daughter continue their family tradition of operating a welcoming enoteca. Btw, check out their remarkable dining table out in their back patio, all orange marble and Afghan lapis lazuli. Weighs a ton and may be the loveliest such table that your eyes will ever set on. Ladies will appreciate that 70 plus Roberto takes flirting seriously, and the whole experience will probably rank as a good memory.

Spoleto is a wonderful place. Tric Trac bar is on everyone's fave list and rightly so. What a locale for a drink! The taverna where we ate seemed more popular with locals=La Lanterna. A great choice, everyday people. Dunno how appealing the following pair might be for someone living with Celiac concerns, but the neighbouring foodie choices Salumeria Padrichelli and Forno Panficio Santini are the real deal, absolutely packed with tasty options to buy.
Assisi was not our choice as a place to eat at, but we suggest nearby villages such as 'Collepino' for sheer authenticity. Spare a thought for those who still live close by despite the ongoing threat of earthquakes. That also apples to Norcia. In Norcia, one could dine at Trattoria Dal Francese, although service can be hit or miss there. Did Palazzo Seneca survive the quake? If so, we recommend a meal there. Lonely Planet interviewed their chef mere weeks prior to the terremoto.

So many folks have suggested l'Alchimista for lunch in Montefalco, that it could feel like old hat by now. But it has earned its good reputation. Fantastic food, especially their signature bacon/egg brunch dish. Maybe try to time your visit for a Saturday, so you can dine outdoors with the Flower Market adding value to the atmosphere.
We based in Bevagna, where there are numerous eating possibilities. We returned 3 times to eat the great salads at informal 'Cafe Assu'. The eccentric owner-lady's adult daughter runs another, more upscale restaurant deeper into the alley.

Some additional considerations:
-great great splurge at lesser-known hotel S. Pietro in valle, a real abbey-cum-lodgings in an incredible setting. What views. And what great breakfasts.
-smaller Trevi is a dark horse, a village not on the beaten path, with a fine splurge hotel patio (Antica Dimora alla Rocca) to have drinks on, plus the nearby attraction 'Fonti del Clitunno'.
-one of Italy's Great Travel Experiences has been to see the thermal-inversion sunrises fill the park/valley surrounding the hilltop town of Castelluccio with a misty white sea of fog. pure magic. Post-quake, despite the destruction, it may still be possible to at least drive there past army checkpoints with your camera. Go as far up the path above town as possible for the best perspective. A world-class foto op.

Tante belle cose.

I am done. The end.

Last edited by zebec; Aug 18th, 2022 at 09:21 PM. Reason: pecked by parrots while typing
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Old Aug 19th, 2022, 09:55 AM
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Day 4. Consider Spoleto-Spello-Bevagna-Todi-Spoleto to get you off the main road (SS3) and on to some scenic secondary roads. You could add Montefalco to this circular drive, but it would be a slight detour. Being a Sunday, there won't be much to "do" in the small towns other than walk around. You could do this drive in either direction, but you'd likely find more dining options in Todi. If you make it to Todi and the weather is good, Ristorante Umbria has wonderful views from its terrace, although you'd have to inquire if terrace seating is offered at that time of year. (We have been there in late October, but it was pre-Covid.) If you're not interested in Todi, the small, secondary roads between Bevagna/Montefalco and Spoleto run through a very pretty area. The drive between Aquasparta (south of Todi) and Spoleto is also very scenic.

Depending on the day of the week, you could return the car in Spoleto, then train to Orvieto, train to Rome. This would save you a one-way rental surcharge.
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Old Aug 19th, 2022, 04:54 PM
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A few thoughts. You’ve not allocated much time to tour Spoleto itself. There are a number of interesting sites there so I would rethink that. Spello and Assisi are easily combined. There is a relatively new museum in Spello of Roman mosaics that were unearthed under what was once a car park. It was very well done. I, personally, found Perugia less appealing than the smaller towns.and the traffic in and out can be heavy. Do bear in mind, too, that with limited exceptions, Umbrian towns close up for several hours after lunch. It’s a good time to enjoy a long lunch, explore the countryside or drive to a new town. But if you arrive in a town after lunch expecting it to be open and lively, you might be disappointed. Be sure to check opening times if there is a particular sight you want to see. ​​​​​
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Old Aug 19th, 2022, 05:36 PM
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There are also some Roman bath mosaics in Bevagna which are in remarkable condition. Plus a jewel-box of a theater/opera house with a gorgeous fresco ceiling and fairly well preserved city walls, remains of a Roman theater, a church with a fresco cycle... When we visited, there was a papermaker selling some nice souvenirs. I'm not sure any of these things would be accessible on a Sunday, but it's a charming town.

I agree with indyhiker about Perugia unless you have significant time there (a day or two) to really appreciate all it has to offer. With only a few hours, I'd rather go to Gubbio.
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Old Aug 19th, 2022, 09:16 PM
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Zebac mentioned Hotel Brufani Palace in Perugua for lunch; we've stayed there a couple of times; gorgeous hotel and views and extremely reasonable for the quality. We like staying there, at one end of the antique center/passagiata (where Sandri as mentioned is located) and we've had many excellent meals there, in fact have not ever had a bad meal in Perugia, Assisi, or Spello. We take the elevators or the little "mini-metro" to the train station and head out from there.

In Spello there's a really excellent culinary herbs shop, on the same street as Il Molino, I believe--I should still have some herbs from there and will try to find the name.

However, sounds like as with many folks you want/will have a car; the hotels do make arrangements for them, though space is tight in the antique centers.

Agree about train vs. plane if that can work for you, especially high-speed trains between cities.

For Assisi, the original tiny church of St. Francis is at the bottom of the hill, near the train station in the lower town, Santa Maria degli Angeli, inside a much larger church, and IMO worth a quick look along with the artwork--Giotto, if memory serves, It can be a quick visit that packs a lot.

Then the basilica is up the hill with the actual hill town of Assisi.

Have a great visit in lovely Umbria!


Last edited by annw; Aug 19th, 2022 at 09:18 PM.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 10:59 AM
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Hi annw , Jean , indyhiker and zebec ,
Sorry for taking a few days to reply—I had to digest the wealth of travel tips you all provided and check on what’s open and what’s feasible.

I won’t be able to change the entry and exit from Milan as those tickets have been purchased among other hindrances. But we will train to Spoleto after a night of rest in Milan. We’ll arrive in time for a late lunch in Spoleto and will spend the day exploring the town and its sites. Il Capanno, Osteria del Matto (recommended to a friend by New York’s Di Palo family, famed for its namesake gourmet store in Little Italy) , Tric Trac and Apollinare are on my wish list.

We’ll spend the next day driving the Spello-Bevagna/Montefalco-Todi route. Maybe go back to a nearby town in the evening for a sunset drink or spend it in Spoleto.

The following morning to afternoon will be for Castellucio and Norcia and the evening left open for whatever we’ve missed or want to revisit/explore further. We will train to Orvieto the next day for our final Umbria night before going to Rome for 5 nights.

annw : Alas, Il Molino in Spello appears to have closed. Would love to hear what the culinary herbs place was.

It begs the question whether it’s heresy to skip Assisi? Will we be in purgatory by passing on Perugia? Something that will be pontificated upon in Rome or over glasses of uva di sagrantino!

Thanks to all of you! 🥂

Last edited by mdn; Aug 23rd, 2022 at 11:02 AM.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 11:18 AM
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mdn, the erborista was called Hispellum. -- I think on the via cavour -- tons of great little herb packets (Erbe per Risotto, etc.) -- great to bring hope and very light, small gifts to bring home.

There's also a great ceramics shop a few doors down; I bought a fairly modern design there. Don't recall the name.

Assisi, though a lovely town, does lean religious (friars walking around, garden St Francis statues, etc.) and you may have had your fill in Rome. Also parking, blechh! But's true of many hill towns.

I do like Perugia but there's no requirement to see it; plenty of other places in Umbria to enjoy.



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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 03:50 PM
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There are dozens of charming towns you're NOT going to see. No use fretting over it.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 09:31 PM
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At this point I would love at least to pass through Panicale, after watching Signora Volpe on Acorn!
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 07:40 AM
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annw, Panicale is a great, very small town, a bit remote so it doesn't get overwhelmed with crowds. No train service.

I'm always on the hunt for local handicrafts, and Panicale is known for a particular type of lace... embroidery on tulle. There was a school of the craft in the town in the 19th C., and now there's a Tulle Museum. I've thought this would be a great place for a longer stay. For it's size, the town is surprisingly "complete"... besides restaurants/cafes, it has grocery stores, shops (even a flower shop!), pharmacy/clinic, etc., and is close to lots of interesting towns in Umbria and Tuscany.
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 11:55 AM
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Interesting, Jean; will be interesting to see if there's an uptick in tourism after the exposure on the program. I love seeing the gorgeous drone shots of the town!
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 12:10 PM
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annw - i had never heard of Signora Volpe or Panicale but having now looked it up after you mentioned it i must try to find it.

thanks!
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