Back to Life in Umbria

We join Penny Wainwright to explore the tourist initiatives that are encouraging visitors back to Umbria, after the devastating earthquakes of 2016…

Photos by Penny Wainwright and iStock

Ponte delle Torri and Monteluco, Spoleto
Ponte delle Torri and Monteluco, Spoleto

After the serious earthquakes that hit central Italy in 2016, I was keen to see how the region was recovering from the devastation, so I jumped at the chance to travel to the area and meet the people behind the region’s regeneration. My journey, which had been organised to promote some of Umbria’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, began in Spoleto. At the welcome dinner held in La Macchia, the train tavern, Gilberto Giasprini from the Council and Tourism Office for Spoleto spoke about the earthquakes. They had mostly affected nearby Norcia, and only a small part of Spoleto. The majority of Umbria is now open again for tourism, but the tourist associations recognise that they need to be enthusiastic in encouraging visitors to come back. This work is seen as a vital contribution to the regeneration of Norcia.

The second tourism event took place the following day in Palazzo Collicola, the contemporary art museum in Spoleto. During the workshop I interviewed Marco Citerbo, the director of Umbria Lifestyle. He explained that Umbrian tourism needs tour operators to promote the region, telling me that although only five per cent of Umbria was affected by the earthquakes – mainly Norcia and Cascia – tourism had fallen by eighty per cent. But within six months of the earthquake, two hotels were reopened and everyone is continuing to work hard to rebuild the area’s tourism.

Spoleto Umbria
Spoleto’s walls, innovative lift system and Duomo

A programme of events and exhibitions in the UK and Europe has taken place and will continue to promote what Umbria has to offer to tourists. The Tourist Associations of Umbria had provided a mixture of traditional and new opportunities for this particular tour of the region, showing their passion for reviving tourism in the beautiful ‘Green Heart’ of Italy. The earthquakes of 2016 have not been forgotten, but I felt excited by what all the people here are doing to inspire the imagination of tourists and to move forwards to the future.

Penny’s feature on three of her favourite Umbrian destinations is a great starting point, if you’re seeking to travel to this spectacular part of Italy.