Tips for your holiday in Umbria
Umbria has a lot to offer. You can read more and you can find the latest details on our ‘Umbria information pages’.
Fire brigade: 115
Fires in nature: 1515
Breakdown car: 803803 (Europ Assistance)
803116 (Automobile Club d’Italia)
The academic hospital of Perugia is Ospedale Silvestrini. Take the Madonna Alto exit (of the ring road around Perugia) and follow signs for Ospedale. Address: Ospedale S. Maria della Misericordia - S. Andrea delle Fratte, 06156 Perugia. If you need to go to the first aid at night, best go here or for urgent cases call 118 the ambulance.
The main academic hospital in Perugia and the hospitals of Citta di Castello and Castiglione del Lago have a pediatrician.
Pediatrician in Umbertide is called Franca Sonaglia
Address: Via Fratta 38, Umbertide.
She can be found on Monday, Tuesday and Friday between 16.30 and 19.30 hrs and on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 10.00 and 12.30 hrs.
Pediatrician in Passignano sul Trasimeno is called Elena Cappelani.
Address is Via della Vittoria 13, Passignano sul Trasimeno.
She can be found on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9.30 and 13 hrs. Friday between 16 and 19 hrs.
On Tuesdays she is in Tuoro sul Trasimeno between 16 and 19 hrs at the Via del Porto where you see the white USL sign. Here you will also find normal GP (doctor).
Opening hours shops
We very often get the question when shops and restaurants are usually open.
In general the opening hours of shops are: Monday - Saturday: 9 - 13 hrs and 16 - 20 hrs
Sunday: closing day (some supermarkets open at 9.00 and close at 13.00, so there are variations).
In general food shops are closed on Thursday afternoon and clothes shops are closed on Monday mornings.
There are many supermarkets with 'orario continuato' which means they are open the whole day from 9 to 20 hrs.
In general the restaurants are open from 19.30 onwards. Often one can not enter a restaurant after 22.00 hours. Restaurants have one day of the week when they are closed and this is usually displayed on the door. Some restaurants do both lunch and dinner, but not all.
On the road
- Take a detailed map and study it well before driving somewhere, as the road signs in Italy are very badly done and finding the right road, only following signs, is often impossible. Do not fully trust your Sat Nav device either! Some common sense is necessary.
- Italians are, on average, no gentlemen on the road. Don’t be surprised if they flash their lights agressively behind you (a sign that they want to surpass), while you are sticking to the speed limit. Try to remain calm and keep driving the speed you think is best.
- When traffic from the opposite direction is flashing their lights, you will likely run into a police check point, or a road accident, so lower your speed and be extra careful.
- The highways in Italy have very short entrance and exit lanes.
- On the main highways (indicated with A) you will have to pay a toll. Entering the toll way, you will take a ticket (important not to loose this). Some booths are automatic and only for subscribers to that system, these will have to be avoided. Choose the ones that indicate a manual transaction. You can pay with credit card almost everywhere.
In the hills and mountains, many drivers hoot in the curves. When you hear hooting, do hoot back so they know you are also going to be in the same curve.
Most cities and towns have a parking area close to the old town centre. Don’t try to avoid paying for parking as you will loose a lot of time and risk fines. Most parking is fairly cheap, reasonably well indicated and close to where you want to go.
- Everywhere with the possibility to park, you will find indications of the local parking rule.
- In some cases you take a ticket before entering a parking area and pay before.
- Sometimes you first pay for the number of hours you think you want to stay and display the ticket in the front screen of your car.
- Some parking is free, but you can stay only an hour. Make sure to have one of the ‘blue manual clocks’ that you display in the front screen, indicating the time when you are parking.
- There are parking areas with a person walking around, he will give you a ticket when parking and when you come back you will have to pay him.
- Do not leave anything in display inside the car (money, sunglasses, bags, leather jackets, etc.).
- When parking in a closed and/or covered car park, please read their closing times carefully, as some do not remain open throughout the night. You will have to leave before the closing time, as otherwise they close your car inside for the night.
How to behave in a thunderstorm
The Umbrian summer can have some heavy thunderstorms occasionally. Please note that it is very common that the electricity stops working during such a storm. After the storm, if it does not come back automatically, look for the 'ENEL' fusebox because often the switch in there trips. Do not swim during a thunderstorm. The lightning often strikes in the pool.
In Umbria you will have to collect your own rubbish and bring it to the big containers you can find in many places around towns or along roads. It is appreciated if you separate the rubbish (glass and plastic bottles in a bin, paper in another bin and the rest in the general rubbish). Note the specific instructions you'll find in most houses or ask the owner.
Most towns and cities still have the small shops stocked with almost anything one can need, in the centre of towns. Visiting these types of shops provides a nice Italian experience, but you often need time and have limited choice. Supermarkets are for that matter easier, although I would love these small shops to survive. The biggest supermarket chains in Umbria are: Coop, Conad (Margarita), Sidis, A&O, Despar and PAM. Cheaper supermarkets are Eurospin. Lidle and VIP (where you find all goods still in boxes).
Italians hardly drink water from the tap and you have a huge choice of ‘acqua minerale’. ‘Frizzante’ is sparkling. ‘Leggermente frizzante’ is a bit sparkling and naturale is plain (not sparkling).
Umbrians eat non-salted bread. It takes a lot of getting used to. Ask for ‘pane salato’ to avoid disappointment, or check on pre-packed bread to make sure that one of the ingredients is ‘sale’ (salt).
Gardens to visit
Although the tipical 'Italian Garden' is world famous, there are not many public gardens one can visit. However, many cities have a botanical garden (giardino botanico or orto botanico) and often you can enter if you ask.
The gardens you can visit are:
- Giardino delle Piante Acquatiche (on Polvese Island Lake Trasimeno) – water plants Castiglione del Lago (PG)
- Orto Botanico dell'Università di Perugia, con Orto Medievale Perugia (PG)
- Giardino di Villa Aureti Perugia (PG)
- Parco della Villa Fidelia Spello (PG)
Going to a restaurant in Italy is nothing special. Most younger Italians eat out at least once a week. Unless you go to a special restaurant (with a few stars or listed in restaurant guides), usually the restaurants are rather informal.
- Children and babies are welcome and often stay until late
- Do not go before earliest 19.30 hrs.
- When eating pizza, most Italians drink beer. With other meals they usually drink wine. You can get the house wine (often good quality), ask for ‘vino della casa’ or ‘vino della spina’ and choose between red and white (‘rosso’ or ‘bianco’). Almost all restaurants also have a wine list. Do note that beer is a lot more expensive than wine, unless you select a special wine.
- Restaurants charge ‘coperto’ or ‘servizio’, a fixed amount for sitting down and getting served. Tipping is therefore not necessary and is only done when you really appreciate the service more than usual.
- When taking the order, the waiter will always ask what type of water to bring (frizzante -sometimes indicated as ‘gassata’- or naturale), as they drink wine and water with their meals.
- The menus have antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni and dolci. Antipasti are hors d’oeuvre. Primi are pasta, rise or gnocchi. Secondi means the main course, but are not served with vegetables, these are listed under ‘contorni’ and have to be ordered separately. Dolci are the sweet course at the end and of course after that you can order coffee with grappa or any other ‘digestivo’. Be warned: a complete meal like this is for most people far too much to handle! It is not at all strange to order only an antipasto and primo, or only a primo and dolce. Feel free to order what you want to eat, not following the menu.
- Italians think it is very strange some foreigners drink cappuccino after their meal, as capuccino is only for breakfast and during the morning. However, there is no problem ordering cappuccino, they will still bring it.
- Few restaurants in Umbria specifically have vegetarian meals but at the same time there are many dishes without meat.
In Italy a recent law makes it strictly forbidden to smoke inside bars and restaurants. Please stick to this rule because the owners of public places (and you) will be severely fined if you are found smoking inside. All Italians adhere to this rule and even in winter you see everybody smoking outside all public buildings.
You are really only allowed to smoke outside, anywhere.
There are cinema’s in most bigger towns in Umbria. However, all films shown are always in Italian.
In the centre of Perugia is one cinema (Pavone, a beautiful theatre) where films are shown in original language. You can pick up their programme from the Pavone ticket office attached to the theater.
In summer several towns organise films in the open air. These are again all Italian spoken. Do ask around where you are based where and when these open air movies are organised. In Umbertide and Perugia they are organised every year.
In Italy most dancing places are open in the weekends and sometimes also Thurdays. In summer it happens disco’s are opened also on other days. They usually open around one at night (01.00) and you often pay an entrance fee where you get one drink for free. Some places have a system where you buy drinks on a card and pay when you leave for everything. It is not cheap to go dancing, so do bring enough cash to avoid an embarassing situation.
Festa & Sagra
The Umbrian summer is full of life. Every village organises at some point a ‘festa’ or ‘sagra’. In most cases you can eat here very well for not a lot of money. They play music and you can dance in the open air (hardly ever disco). The posters on walls everywhere will indicate festa or sagra in a nearby town, just check these for details! I strongly recommend these small local happenings if you are interested in the Umbrian cuisine. The food is usually of good quality, made by the housewives of the towns and not by professional cooks. The children and men serve and you sit at long tables. It is simple but with great atmosphere and the prices are usually excellent.
Most sagra and festa have a theme. Each village has a special product they are proud of and the food evolves around this. For example, there is the sagra della polenta, del pesce (fish – around the Lake Trasimeno), della cipolla (onion), dell’oca (goose), della birra (beer), del bosco (products from the woods) etc., etc. Then there are also the festa organised by a political party. This is done to earn some cash for the political party to organise future events. Everybody is welcome also here and the food usually is of the same excellent quality.
Wine in Umbria
Driving around Umbria you will find vineyards everywhere. Most belong to the families living next to them, because many families still produces their own wine. Wine is important in Umbria, just like extra vergine olive oil. You also see many olive trees, some of these very old and split into four trees.
You can find in this website a separate document with more details on Umbria wines.
We hope this information is of use to you. Any feedback is welcome!