Even though you might not think so, you’ve heard of Umbria, a small landlocked region just north of Rome and east of Tuscany. You’ve heard of Assisi (the home of St. Francis of Assisi) and Perugia (the home of the chocolate makers), but you probably haven’t heard of Todi, one of Umbria’s (and Italy’s) most beautiful hill towns. Colleagues of Michael’s told him that we must visit Todi, so on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon in July, we did.
The Appenine mountain range runs through the middle of Umbria, so mountains (the highest is slightly more than 8,000 feet) and hills dominate the region. Our drive took a couple of hours, and as we emerged from the many tunnels on the road leading to Todi, the view of the mountains with wheat, sunflowers, and grapes at their feet was spectacular. We didn’t know that Umbria was so glorious! The colors must be amazing in the fall and the spring.
On our third circle through Todi (all the streets in the historic district are one way), we lucked into a parking place in a tiny, tiny lot just off of beautiful Piazza del Popolo at the top of the hill. It was a good thing we found a space because most of the parking spaces were at the bottom of the long hill. That would have been a LONG haul up! We did see a small bus in the piazza from time to time, so perhaps that’s how people get up and down the hill.
We arrived around 1 p.m. and were hungry, so we walked a couple of blocks to Ristorante Umbria, which serves good food and has an amazing view south from the terrace. We hadn’t made reservations, so we were lucky to snag a seat on the terrace, which filled up right after we arrived.
After lunch we wandered along the picturesque narrow streets at the top of the hill, where we could see views of Umbria in every direction. As we expected, most shops were closed for the afternoon from about 1 to about 4, but we enjoyed our walk.
We made our way back to Piazza del Popolo around 3:30 and noticed that the Duomo, begun in the 12th century, was open. I was thrilled because I’d read about its unusual rose window, which was added in 1513. In the tip of each petal of the rose is a child’s face. The cathedral also has many gorgeous stained glass windows, and the tops of the interior columns feature interesting sculptures of saints, including St. Michael.
Unfortunately we had to hurry back to Rome because we had opera tickets that evening, so after a caffé freddo we drove back down the long hill. We’ll be back!