Bradt's Umbria & the Marche is the most detailed guide to combine these two small central Italian regions, which offer all the beauty, history and culture of neighbouring Tuscany only without the crowds, the traffic or eye-popping prices. Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls (authors of the original Cadogan guide to the area) lived in Umbria in the 1980s and have been returning regularly and writing about it ever since. They are the perfect guides to the region's landscapes, hill towns, food and wine, and art and architecture.
The superb art cities of Umbria and the Marche steal the limelight - Perugia, Orvieto, Urbino, Assisi, Spoleto, Loreto, Todi, where art fills every church and palazzo. But never far from these centres wait unspoiled countryside of rolling olive groves, forests and meadows, long walks and towns and tiny villages, nearly all with a masterpiece or two to show off and a great little family-run restaurant. The Bradt guide covers them all, along with the republic of San Marino.
The Apennines rule here. The Marche's geography is dominated by a series of east-west river valleys - the Metauro, Esino, Tronto, etc - twisting down to the Adriatic and often ending in long sandy beaches, from the historic towns of Senigallia and Fano through Ancona's Cornero Riviera to the Riviera delle Palme at San Benedetto del Tronto. Landlocked Umbria, where rivers flow into the mighty Tiber, has exceptional water features as well: Italy's fourth largest lake, Trasimeno; the Tiber Valley; Clitunno springs (once sacred to the Romans); and Italy's most beautiful waterfall, the Cascata delle Marmore.
Featuring superb photography and expert recommendations to suit all budgets, Umbria & the Marche - the fifth in Bradt's increasingly highly regarded series of Italian regional titles - is a timely guide to a more authentic corner of Italy.