Although across the border from Marche you have to admit that Umbria has its fair share of lovely towns: Spoletto, Gubbio, Orvietto and Todi, to name but a few. And whilst there is certainly no denying its beauty, Umbria is the only region on the Italian peninsular which is totally landlocked.
Now however eastern Umbria finds itself an hour closer to the coast. It is true that the Adriatic is slowly edging inland, in the time that we have been here we have seen houses succumb to its advances. That might have shortened the journey time by a few seconds.
The thing that has made the difference though is the eventual opening of the rebuilt SS77 which has slashed the journey time. Instead of snaking through the Sibiline mountains and waiting for the traffic lights on single track roads through historic hamlets, the new route just powers a straight line from A to B. Previously the view was obliterated by 40 tonne trucks hogging the road, now it’s the mountains themselves which mask the view as much of the road is hidden in a series of tunnels up to 3.5km in length, linked together by high altitude bridges which afford occasional great views of the beautiful mountain scenery.
Visitors to Casal dei Fichi are now discovering that in just over an hour they can be in Assisi, with its historic basilica built in the 13th century in memory of St Francis and decorated with frescoes by famous artists like Giotto. Spello is even closer and closer still Colfiorito, famous for its lentils, is a great truffle hunting site.
Perugia is another beautiful renaissance city and we can now confirm that its airport is just an hour and a quarter from us. Linking up with the western Italian motorway network means vastly improved access to Tuscany, Lazio and a new more direct route to Rome. Of course this also means that Marche is now easily accessible to many more Italians and visitors, we look forward to welcoming them.