While Central Tuscany has a magic that cannot be matched with towns like Siena, Cortona, Pienza, Montepulciano, and Montalcino, you'll be sharing this magic with many tourists and woefully few Italians. Nearby, in the Upper Tiber Valley of Umbria, a drive of an hour or less from the towns above, there awaits a magic that is different, but equally as special. Don't come to this region expecting to share your experiences with other English-speaking tourists. This is where the language heard most often is Italian and so are the tourists.
The Upper Tiber Valley is the northernmost Umbrian territory. Wedged between Tuscany and the rugged mountains of the Marches, this region has a unique cultural and social character. The people of this region have been master hunters and gatherers for centuries. Wild mushroom varieties (porcini), tartufo bianco e nero (white and black truffles), cinghiale (wild boar), coniglio (rabbit) are foods typically found on kitchen tables. The Tiber River runs through the entire length of the valley for 50 kilometers and provides the valley with great fertility. Still largely farmed with tobacco, each year sees more fields turned over to produce and feed for livestock.
There are eight leading towns in the region. The hill towns of Citerna, Montone, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, and Pietralunga are sleepy hamlets with magnificent views with one or two good places to eat and some memorable art in their local museums and churches. Their real attractions, however, are the vistas from each town, the joy of the winding drive up to each hilltop location and searching out a place to sample the local food and wine. Città di Castello, Lisciano Niccone, San Giustino, and Umbertide are valley towns bustling with the energy of daily Italian culture and are the leading towns for art, culture, great restaurants.
The Albizzini Palace Foundation in Città di Castello holds The Burri Collection. The artist Alberto Burri was a resident of Città di Castello and one of the major leaders of contemporary art. The works in the Alberto Burri museum tell the story of an artist who lived in his own head, making work that followed its own potent logic.
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