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Visit Umbria, Tuscany’s unspoiled sister. It’s filled with hilltop towns and dotted with monasteries that welcome all for about $25 per night.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Umbrian monasteries welcome all without any religious obligations. Rates at Umbrian monasteries range from a voluntary donation to about $25 a nite per person.

Spello is a unique town built in the typical colors of the Umbria stone. Although best known for his work in the Borgia Apartment in the Vatican Museum, some of Pinturicchio’s finest frescoes can be admired in the Baglioni Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The chapel’s beautiful tile floor is majolica by Deruta.

Once an important municipality on the Via Flaminia, tiny Bevagna has preserved several buildings, fortifications and artistic treasures from its days as an ancient Roman staging post. A delightful hill town of steep, narrow, cobbled streets and ancient walls, two-well preserved Augustan gates attest to the town’s past. Outstanding mosaics can be seen at the site of the former hot baths. The 12th century Romanesque church of San Michele is enhanced with a lovely facade containing gargoyles on either side of the portal. Another Romanesque church, the dark and mysterious San Silverstro, contains a memorial stone at the entrance signed and dated (1195) by the Maestro Binello.

Perched on the slopes of Mount Ingino, Gubbio is a medieval jewel whose gray stone buildings appear to be marching up the impossibly steep and heavily wooded slopes. The ancient byways and twisting streets are lined with terracotta tiled houses. Unexpected views of the verdant valley and snow-capped Apennines surprise at every turn.

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