Quintessential purple landscapes glimmer like amethysts in this picture-postcard paradise of lavender fields radiating violet-twinged views, where the soft natural light and timeless landscapes have been used by artists and writers to create iconic masterpieces.
So what is it that makes Provence so special?
· Picturesque hilltop villages hosting weekly markets selling fresh local produce, colorful textiles and original artworks.
· Fresh and flavorful Mediterranean-inspired cuisine: olive oil from the sun-drenched olive groves, ‘caught that day’ fish, home-grown tomatoes and garlic. The Provencal countryside is rich with the aroma of fresh herbs.
· Rich in medieval history: Provence is a living museum of some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Europe, from amphitheatres, châteaux and monasteries to stone fountains and lavoirs.
· Verdant vineyards: stop off for a wine-tasting, visit wineries and experience the subtle nuances of how topography, climate, geography, and soil affect the flavor of the tremendous vintages.
· Interesting fact: more than 25 years after his book, A Year in Provence, was first published, Peter Mayle is still receiving fan mail from strangers delighted by his tale of a 50-something British couple and their two dogs moving into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the Luberon.
Take a look at a couple of our most popular waking and cycling tours in Provence….
Cycle through the verdant vineyards covering the patchwork landscape of the Vaucluse and the ever-present shape of Mount Ventoux, ‘the Giant of Provence’ that’s silent and ever watchful on the horizon. Taste the fresh local produce as you venture to the foot of the mountain.
6 nights | All breakfasts | All evening meals | Luggage transfers | Wine service
Why we love Umbria’s Green Heart…..
The only Italian region with no coastline and no bordering countries, Umbria, sitting at the heart of the boot, is picturesque, green and unique. Slowing right down to walking and cycling pace is the perfect way to fully appreciate the charms, hidden treasures and distinctive character that makes this timeless part of Italy a medieval green masterpiece.
So what is it that makes Umbria so special?
1. Its fine food and wines
Food is a fundamental part of any travel experience and the Umbrian people certainly know theirs. One of Italy’s most fertile corners, its rich countryside is responsible for some of the country’s finest food and drink. Delicacies include their highly-prized black truffles, fine olive oils and lenticchie di Castellucio (tiny, sweet lentils), along with tasty hams, wild boar, mountain sheep cheeses and many types of grains and beans.
2. The ‘green heart’
Umbria is a sun-drenched region of beautiful lush woodlands, winding valleys, rolling hills and mountains. You’ll enjoy passing through olive groves, sunflower fields, vineyards and apricot orchards and admiring the dazzling views of majestic lakes and ancient villages.
3. Its art
Home to many talented artists throughout the centuries, it was an Umbrian art school that taught famous artists such as Raphael, della Francesca and Perugino. In quiet hilltop towns you’ll marvel at old paintings and frescoes proudly hung on the walls of tiny churches.
4. Medieval towns and villages
Nestled among the luscious greenery is a host of historic hillside towns and villages, where you can meander through cobbled squares filled with traditional trattorie and imposing castles. Assisi is the jewel in the Umbrian crown, home to stunning churches, a Roman arch, C14 aqueduct and other architecturally famous buildings.
St Francis Way is a pilgrimage that spans around 215mi/350km, covering the places that St Francis visited during his life. Millions pass through the valleys and mountains of Umbria, as well as the small town of Assisi, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites because of its Basilica di San Francesco.
Although Umbria is a relatively small region, it is jam-packed with musical events and festivals, one of the most famous being the Umbria Jazz Festival that has been held in Perugia every July since 1973. Spoleto is also famous for its Two Worlds Festival that celebrates classical and opera music.
Take a look at our tours in Umbria on foot and by bike….
Follow a circular loop exploring the rich rolling countryside of the Assisi Valley, one of the most beautiful corners of Italy and the true ‘green heart’ of the country. It’s a sun-drenched region of deep lush forests, impressive limestone gorges, majestic lakes and stunning medieval villages seemingly unchanged over the years. The views are superb!
8 nights in 4**** hotels | Self-guided | All breakfasts | 6 evening meals | Luggage transfers | Route notes and maps | Local On-Site rep | 24hr support