Blue Guide Central Italy
Lazio is the region of Rome and the provinces around it. The little towns, where the the buildings are usually brown or rust- coloured, and the streets are often cobbled and adorned with fountains, have a feel of Rome about them. In the distinctive countryside, with its outcrops of tufa, sheep are often to be seen grazing in the fields. The occasional palm tree provides a reminder that we are almost in the south. There is also a slightly shabby, workaday feel in a lot of places which makes the region very different from that of its close neighbour, Tuscany. This is honest Italy. It is also the best place to study the Etruscan civilisation which preceded the birth of Rome: Tarquinia has the finest-known painted tombs of this period (and an excellent museum), and at the necropolis of Cerveteri the great variety of Etruscan sepulchral architecture can be appreciated. Vulci, where some of the most beautiful artefacts were found, still has a remarkably evocative landscape. Northern Lazio is especially known for its fine villas and gardens, the most beautiful of which is Villa Lante. The place which perhaps sums up best both the Etruscan and medieval character of Lazio, and the distinctive countryside (and where there is a good place to stay and you can eat well) is Tuscania.
Umbria lies at the very heart of Italy. It is the only region on the peninsula without a sea coast. It has some of the most beautiful landscape to be found in the country, and Gubbio, Spello, Todi and Spoleto are among the best preserved small medieval towns in Italy. Assisi is world famous not only as the birthplace of St Francis, but as home to some of the finest frescoes of the 13th–14th centuries. The Umbrian school of painting flourished in the 15th–16th centuries. Its greatest exponent was Perugino (c. 1446–1523). His pupils included Pinturicchio, whose greatest work in the region is in Spello. The best comprehensive view of Umbrian painting is provided by the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Perugia.
Blue Guide Central Italy covers the regions of Lazio (with Rome), Umbria, Tuscany and The Marche.