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Umbria

Country  Italy
GDP per capita  24,400.00 EUR (2008)
Area  8,456 km2
Capital  Perugia
Population  895,824 (Jul 2014)
Colleges and Universities  University of Perugia, University for Foreigners Perugia
Destinations  Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, Terni, Orvieto
Points of interest  Basilica of San Francesco dAssisi, Cascata delle Marmore, Orvieto Cathedral, Eremo delle Carceri, Galleria Nazionale dellUmbria

Umbria ( ), is a region of historic and modern central Italy. It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a border with other countries. It includes the Lake Trasimeno, Cascata delle Marmore, and is crossed by the River Tiber. The regional capital is Perugia. Umbria is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy, and influence on culture.

Map of Umbria

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The region is characterized by hills and historical towns such as Assisi (a World Heritage Site associated with St. Francis of Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and other Franciscan sites, works by Giotto and Cimabue), Norcia (the hometown of St. Benedict), Gubbio, Perugia, Spoleto, Todi, Città di Castello, Orvieto, Castiglione del Lago, Narni, Amelia, and other small cities.

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Geography

Umbria Beautiful Landscapes of Umbria

Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Partly hilly and partly flat, and fertile owing to the valley of the Tiber, its topography includes part of the central Apennines, with the highest point in the region at Monte Vettore on the border of the Marche, at 2,476 m (8,123 ft); the lowest point is Attigliano, 96 m (315 ft). It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. The commune of Città di Castello has an exclave named Monte Ruperto within Marche.

Umbria Beautiful Landscapes of Umbria

Umbria is crossed by two valleys: the Umbrian valley ("Valle Umbra"), stretching from Perugia to Spoleto, and the Tiber Valley ("Val Tiberina"), west of the first one, from Città di Castello to the border with Lazio. The Tiber River forms the approximate border with Lazio, although its source is just over the Tuscan border. The Tibers three principal tributaries flow southward through Umbria. The Chiascio basin is relatively uninhabited as far as Bastia Umbra. About 10 km (6 mi) farther on, it joins the Tiber at Torgiano. The Topino, cleaving the Apennines with passes that the Via Flaminia and successor roads follow, makes a sharp turn at Foligno to flow NW for a few kilometres before joining the Chiascio below Bettona. The third river is the Nera, flowing into the Tiber further south, at Terni; its valley is called the Valnerina. The upper Nera cuts ravines in the mountains; the lower, in the Tiber basin, has created a wide floodplain.

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In antiquity, the plain was covered by a pair of shallow, interlocking lakes, the Lacus Clitorius and the Lacus Umber. They were drained by the Romans over several hundred years. An earthquake in the 4th century and the political collapse of the Roman Empire resulted in the refilling of the basin. It was drained a second time, almost a thousand years later, during a 500-year period: Benedictine monks started the process in the 13th century, and the draining was completed by an engineer from Foligno in the 18th century.

In literature, Umbria is referred to as il cuore verde dItalia (the green heart of Italy). The phrase is taken from a poem by Giosuè Carducci, the subject of which is the source of the Clitunno River in Umbria.

History

Umbria in the past, History of Umbria

The region is named for the Umbri people, an Italic people which was absorbed by the expansion of the Romans. Pliny the Elder recounted a fanciful derivation for the tribal name from the Greek ?????? "a shower", which had led to the confused idea that they had survived the Deluge familiar from Greek mythology, giving them the claim to be the most ancient race in Italy. In fact, they belonged to a broader family of neighbouring peoples with similar roots. Their language was Umbrian, one of the Italic languages, related to Latin and Oscan.

Umbria in the past, History of Umbria

The Umbri probably sprang, like neighbouring tribes, from the creators of the Terramara, and Villanovan culture in northern and central Italy, who entered north-eastern Italy at the beginning of the Bronze Age.

The Etruscans were the chief enemies of the Umbri. The Etruscan invasion went from the western seaboard towards the north and east (lasting from about 700 to 500 BC), eventually driving the Umbrians towards the Apennine uplands and capturing 300 Umbrian towns. Nevertheless, the Umbrian population does not seem to have been eradicated in the conquered districts. The border between Etruria and Umbria was the Tiber river: the ancient name of Todi, Tular ("border"), remembers that.

After the downfall of the Etruscans, Umbrians aided the Samnites in their struggle against Rome (308 BC). Later communications with Samnium were impeded by the Roman fortress of Narnia (founded 298 BC). Romans defeated the Samnites and their Gallic allies in the battle of Sentinum (295 BC). Allied Umbrians and Etruscans had to return to their territories to defend against simultaneous Roman attacks, so were unable to help the Samnites in the battle of Sentinum.

The Roman victory at Sentinum started a period of integration under the Roman rulers, who established some colonies (e.g., Spoletium) and built the via Flaminia (220 BC). The via Flaminia became a principal vector for Roman development in Umbria. During Hannibals invasion in the second Punic war, the battle of Lake Trasimene was fought in Umbria, but the Umbrians did not aid the invader.

During the Roman civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian (40 BC), the city of Perugia supported Antony and was almost completely destroyed by Octavian. In Pliny the Elders time, 49 independent communities still existed in Umbria, and the abundance of inscriptions and the high proportion of recruits in the imperial army attest to its population. Under Augustus, Umbria became the the Regio VI of Roman Italy.

The modern region of Umbria is different from the Umbria of Roman times (see Roman Umbria). Roman Umbria extended through most of what is now the northern Marche, to Ravenna, but excluded the west bank of the Tiber, which belonged to Etruria. Thus Perugia was an Etruscan city, and the area around Norcia was in the Sabine territory.

After the collapse of the Roman empire, Ostrogoths and Byzantines struggled for the supremacy in the region, and the decisive battle of the war between these two peoples took place near modern Gualdo Tadino. The Lombards founded the duchy of Spoleto, covering much of todays Umbria, but the Byzantine were able to keep in the region a corridor along the Via Flaminia linking Rome with the Exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis. When Charlemagne conquered most of the Lombard kingdoms, some Umbrian territories were given to the Pope, who established temporal power over them. Some cities acquired a form of autonomy (the comuni). These cities were frequently at war with each other, often in a context of more general conflicts, either between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire or between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines.

In the 14th century, the signorie arose (the most important of them was that of the Trinci in Foligno), but they were subsumed into the Papal States by Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi. The Papacy ruled the region until the end of the 18th century. After the French Revolution and the French conquest of Italy, Umbria became part of the ephemeral Roman Republic (1798–1799) and later, part of the Napoleonic Empire (1809–1814) under the name of department of Trasimène.

After Napoleons defeat, the Pope regained Umbria and ruled it until 1860. In that year, in the context of Italian Risorgimento, Umbria (together with Marche) was annexed by Piedmontese King Victor Emmanuel II during his march to meet Garibaldi advancing from southern Italy during his expedition of the thousand. One year later, Umbria, with capital Perugia, was incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy.

The region, whose economy was mainly based on agriculture, experienced a dramatic economic shift at the end of the 19th century with the founding of the Acciaierie di Terni, a major steelwork placed in Terni because of its abundance of electric power due to the Marmore waterfall and its secluded position.

The present borders of Umbria were fixed in 1927, with the creation of the province of Terni and the separation of the province of Rieti, which was incorporated into Lazio. During WWII, Umbria was heavily bombed and in 1944 became a battlefield between the allied forces and the Germans retreating towards the Gothic Line. In 1946 Umbria became part of the Italian Republic. It has been always ruled by left parties.

Economy

The present economic structure emerged from a series of transformations which took place mainly in the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, there was rapid expansion among small and medium-sized firms and a gradual retrenchment among the large firms which had hitherto characterised the regions industrial base. This process of structural adjustment is still going on.

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References

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