The geographical centre of Italy is Narni near Terni and perhaps the best way to visit the region is when one of the many annual gastronomic appointments are taking place.
Now we consider ourselves an authority on porchetta. Or the ancient culinary culture of crispy pig skin, or pork scratchings, if you like.
Many believe that the town of Ariccia in the Roman hills is the Italian capital of porchetta, but there are many other places either side of the Apennines where the preparation of roasted pig is a passion. The Monti Sibillini in the province of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche comes to mind, as does Campli in Abruzzo.
Following its launch in 2009, Porchettiamo aims to be the Festival of Italian Porchetta. It is held in Gualdo Cattaneo in central Umbria in the town of San Terenziano every May. This is the zone of Sagrantino wine and Dop Umbria dei Colli Martani extra virgin olive oil.
Perugia is perhaps best known for the annual events of Eurochocolate and Umbria Jazz (see below) held respectively in October and July.
With the city airport now connected to the low cost flight hubs, there is no excuse to not find out more about the regional capital of Umbria.
Tthe unique atmosphere of the city is owed to the stunning medieval centre that has been left to us from the 13th and 14th centuries when Perugia was at the height of its power.
Originally, an Etruscan settlement not unlike Orvieto, we suggest you start your discovery of Perugia by passing under the intact Etruscan arch (Arco Etrusco), still the principal gateway to the main pedestrian area, although all the old city wall entrances have their own story and fascination.
It can be quite confusing finding this particular entrance having parked your car, but as long as you are walking uphill, you'll get there eventually.
Before exploring the many narrow alleyways hiding typical Umbrian restaurants and shops, place yourself in Piazza IV Novembre and take in the magnificence of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo above (an Etruscan well marks the entrance), the Maggiore Fountain (note the reliefs from Aesops Fables and the medieval trades in our photo below) and Palazzo dei Priori (13th century home of the National Gallery of Umbria and the main image on this page).
The Cathedral has an interesting religious relic. It's the wedding ring of Mary and Joseph. It arrived in Chiusi in the year 989 having been purchased by the wife of the Marquis of Tuscany on a shopping trip in Rome looking for gems.
It seems the ring has special powers. So much so that when it was stolen in 1473, the thief lost his way in the fog of the Valdichiana and ended up in Perugia. The relic is still heavily guarded and goes on show on one day a year, the 30 July.
For the equally impressive view of the valley 500 meters below, walk along Corso Vannucci to Rocca Paolina.
Perugia is also university town and the local population has long been accustomed to the presence of visitors from other countries.
The University for Foreigners for Italian Language Studies is the oldest and most prestigious institute of its kind in Italy.
The city is only one and a half hours drive from Rome and Florence and five hours from Milan.
Since 1973 Umbria Jazz has been a vibrant, world-famous jazz fest which has attracted some of the biggest names in jazz for to the center of the most beautiful countryside that Italy has to offer. Perugia is a medieval city with a cosmopolitan feel thanks mainly to its large student population, including those who attend the university for foreigners. During the festival, the population doubles in size from 150,000 inhabitants, as an equivalent number of visitors flock to witness the city's metamorphosis into an Italian-style New Orleans. Over the ten days, some 150 concerts are hosted in the town, half of them free. The concerts run from mid-day to midnight nonstop and the city snaps to the beat of international jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett and many, many others (including many unknown but virtuoso musicians from all over the world). An Umbria Jazz Winter event also takes place in December in Orvieto. Dan Hostetler
The Spoleto Festival is officially called the Festival dei Due Mondi or 'Two Worlds'.
It was founded in 1958 by the late Gian Carlo Mennotti because it was originally twinned with an identical festival held in Charleston, South Carolina.
It still has the objective of encouraging cultural exchanges through art and music and has, by all accounts, been recently relaunched after a new administration took over from Mennotti's son, Francis.
Today, the whole organization is a charitable foundation (Fondazione Festival Dei Due Mondi Spoleto O.N.L.U.S.) with Carla Fendi as Honorary President.
On an international level, this festival is one of the most prestigious events of the year and takes place in this stunning hilltop castled city which is located in the heart of Italy's most magical countryside of Umbria.
For us, Gubbio is very much the iron fist inside Umbria's velvet glove. If you like suits of armour, maces and two handed swords, then this is the place for you.
Old Iguvium sits looking down the wide valley and ever since the Eugubini created their '7 bronze tables' in the 300BC, depicting life at the time, the town has retained an architectural and cultural style.
The tables were found in 1444 in the area where the original Umbrian population lived and where the historical center is now located.
Interestingly, the Romans preferred the open land of the valley. Look out or the well preserved ampitheater and Mausoleum of Pomponio Grecino in the fields.
The Valnerina towards the Monti Sibillini in Le Marche is one of the Appennine's most beautiful valleys in Umbria.
Still covered in thick forests the zone touches 2500 metres in altitude.
The narrow, harsh upper areas are dotted with castles, bridges, forts and monasteries and was a tough track for travellers until very recently.
In fact, if you find yourself in Ferentillo (below) just outside Terni in January with the whole valley before you and your destination seemingly blocked by the snowy peaks of the Monti Sibillini, you might think twice before setting off.
The scene of the plot against Cesare Borgia
This is a unique opportunity to experience the magic of the ancient castle and dive into bloody history. The event is organized by the Theatre Company Magione.
In the picturesque setting of the Castle of the Knights of Malta from July 27 to August 1, the Theatre Company Magione offers representation historical costume "Conspiracy at the castle: the Orsini plot against Cesare Borgia."
Among the courtyards and ancient halls of the castle, the story unfolds in a traveling show that brings viewers back five centuries. In 1502 Cardinal Orsini rallied in the castle some of the major leaders and nobles of the time, including the Perugia Gian Paolo Baglioni, groped for an end to the expansionist ambitions of Cesare Borgia. But the attempt will fail.
This is a unique opportunity to experience the magic of the ancient castle and immerse themselves in the bloody history immortalized by Niccolo Machiavelli in "The Prince".
The event is organized by the Theatre Company Magione, with the support of the City of Magione, Umbria Region, sponsors Vpm-Consortium Valley Plain Mugnano and Pharmacy Calcaterra of Magione.
The organizers are grateful for the hospitality of the Order of Malta and the Tourism Association Pro Magione for their cooperation.
The first show is at 21:00, the second at 22.30. 50 places are available in the representation.
Booking is recommended.
It recounts what happened dramatically between 1500 and 1502, when the military operations undertaken by Cesare Borgia, who had enabled him to take possession of the whole of the Romagna and Marche, had led to a number of other armed conflicts outside the territory of Romagna. With regard to the case concerning the conspiracy took place, "the Mansion" is necessary to point out how the new political reality that had been configuring saw the clear hegemony of the Borgia on all the territories of the Church. It is true that some folks continued to exercise their power over the major cities of Umbria and Marche regions, but it is also true that the exercise of this sovereignty was not characterized by the autonomy that they claimed.
Everything was tied to the power of the Pope and his son. If you add to this the precarious political position in which it was to be the powerful Orsini family after the collapse of Aragon which was allied, collapse that gave a green light to take action against the Borgia family Roman, the overall picture is outlined in its essential and we readily understand the reasons that led these and other noble northern and central Italy to conspire against Valentino.
At the end of September 1502, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Orsini was already in Magione, at the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem of which he was commendatory. With him there was another member of the family, Paul, and to them was added the third, Francis, Duke - or Count - Gravina. Orsini joined other nobles and found themselves in the hospital Magione Gian Paolo Baglioni, lord of Perugia, Antonio da Venafro, a confidant of Pandolfo Petrucci, Lord of Siena, Hermes Bentivoglio, son of John lord of Bologna, Vitellozzo Vitelli ladies Città di Castello and Oliverotto Eufreducci Lord of Fermo. In the meeting that followed the defendants settled their arrival to set up a strong army of 700 spears, 400 crossbowmen and 5,000 infantry, declaring war on Valentine's Day. Armed with this army would recover the duchy of Urbino and the Montefeltro, after this operation, Hermes Bentivoglio and his father John would have continued hostilities in the Imola area, while the others in the Pesaro and nell'urbinate.
That was it established in what has gone down in history as the diet - conspiracy - held at the mansion, in Perugia. The news of the conspiracy and the subsequent riots of Urbino and Camerino came unexpected to Valentino, however, knew how to react, he succeeded the first to divide the conspirators and then, one by one to make friends. Four of these Oliverotto da Fermo, Vitellozzo Vitelli and Orsini and Francesco Paolo accepted a meeting with Valentino in Senigallia towards the end of December 1502. Seated in a room decorated for the party, Cesare Borgia walked away with an excuse giving the signal to his henchmen who immediately strangled Oliverotto and Vitellozzo while other soldiers captured the Orsini, conducted as prisoners in Città della Pieve, suffered the same treatment here . Gian Paolo Baglioni, at the beginning of 1503, he was forced to abandon Perugia, but the death of Alexander VI, in August of that year, he decreed the fall of the fortunes of Valentino, who was forced to flee for refuge in Navarre. Gian Paolo could thus return to his city.
View the video above to see how the Gubbio version is a lot thicker than the familiar piadina.
The end of Lent used to be celebrated in Italy with the devouring of many special Easter dishes which had been prepared throughout the previous month.
A collective ritual which involved cheesecakes and typical sweet Easter cakes all made from excessive amounts of eggs.
Today, the tradition is less dramatic but the eggy cakes still play a big part, but 'cheese cake' is still traditionally eaten for breakfast on Easter Day, especially in Umbria.
This is not the dessert cheesecake, but a bread made more savoury with the addition of local cheeses.
Assisi in central Umbria is truly a special place and the tranquil atmosphere of the town relaxes everyone.
It is really easy to get there by train. Once at the station just wait for the shuttle bus to take you to the old medieval gates.
The birthplace of Saint Francis was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2000, just after the major earthquake made serious ruins of several medieval masterpieces.
Painstakingly pieced back together, much is now as it was before. Although who like us saw them before the disaster can only leave with a sense of loss.
Nevertheless, it is one of the great Italian places to visit and we try and go once a year just to soak up the relaxation.