It's handy to have wheels for exploring this rustic region. At Perugia airport, Alamo, Avis and Europcar all have desks (www.alamo.com; www.avis.com; www.europcar.com).
Perugia is the hub airport for Umbria; from the UK, Rynair flies there from London Stansted (www.ryanair.com). The region is roughly in the middle between Rome and Florence (around 150km to each) for other flight options.
Terni and Orvieto can each be reached from Rome in an hour; Foligno is one hour 40 minutes from Ancona by rail (www.ferroviedellostato.it).
Country code for Italy: +39. Perugia area code: 075.
The Road to Assisi by Paul Sabatier; Umbria-set novel After Hannibal by Barry Unsworth; a book of saints to flesh out your tour of the region's many churches.
Do go / Don't Go
June onwards brings a festival fest to the region, adding extra colour to your visit. For a balance of crowds versus weather, spring months March to May are favourable, beating September and October by a whisker. If you don't mind cooler temperatures, have Umbria to yourself, December to February.
In Orvieto, try Catarcia Simone Taxi Service (+39 360 433016; www.orvietotaxi.it). For cabs around Norcia, Piazzale Giovanni Polvani operates out of Spoleto (+39 0743 220489).
A penknife for picnic cheese and ciabatte, and uncorking the Orvieto; binoculars to help you pick out the bird life and wild boar around the Monti Sibillini.
The region's historic towns are cultural attractions in themselves - hilltop, walled Todi, mediaeval Cesi di Terni, and the Roman ruins at Spello among them. Orvieto's Gothic cathedral has a magnificent façade and fabulous frescoes inside. Take a guided tour of the town's tunnels and passageways (www.orvietounderground.it). The Roman ruins at Carsulae in Terni are an archeological treat, as is the National Archeological Museum in Spoleto (+39 0743 2181; www.archeopg.arti.beniculturali.it).
Film-maker Roberto Benigni put Terni's riverside industrial landscape to good use in a couple of his films - shooting scenes from Life is Beautiful and Pinocchio at Papigno.
For colourful, handpainted majolica ceramics, head to the workshops of Deruta, south of Perugia (www.deruta.net). Spoleto's trove of boutiques house antiques, linens and artworks to please most tastes - also the case in Assisi. The saintly town's other speciality is pilgrim-tempting tat: if ever there was a time to stock up on papal fridge magnets, this is it. Perugia has two typical and diverse talents - chocolate and embroidery. Stock up on Baci, Italy's most famous chocolate, which is made here. And call at the Bottega d'arte Ceccucci, at 115 Strada Comunale di Prepo, for Perugia tablecloths and miniature tapestries known as arazzetti (www.bottegadartececcucci.com).
The Marmore waterfalls - 165 metres high - will have you gawping at their organic beauty and marvelling at the power of nature, but don't be fooled: those pesky Romans engineered their path a couple of millennia ago. Four trails guide visitors around the torrent. Climb the Specola tower for a bella vista over the countryside.
It won't set you back a cent to see Assisi of St Francis fame, which has a pleasing café-lined piazza at the top of the village and many lovely boutiques worth a browse. This Unesco-listed site is second only to Rome for its religious significance, its sprawling basilica a lure for pilgrims (www.assisionline.com).
February Get to grips with rare varieties of the feted tuber at Norcia's Black Truffle Fair, which coincides with the winter harvest.
May Calendimaggio festival celebrates mediaeval and Renaissance life in Assisi with costumed processions, archery and banner throwing as well as street theatre, choir singing and massive floral displays (www.calendimaggiodiassisi.it). Mid-month, Gubbio hosts the Corsa dei Ceri, a race dating from mediaeval times that involves lugging three wax saints around town (www.ceri.it). At the month end, sometimes in early June, traditionally attired horsemen assemble in Orvieto's Piazza del Popolo for the Palio of the Goose, a knight-flavoured contest.
June The Festival dei Due Mondi kicks off in Spoleto with two weeks of opera, theatre and ballet on the programme attracting an international crowd (www.festivaldispoleto.com).
July Umbria Jazz is a festival of blue notes, big bands and improv scattered in venues around Perugia (www.umbriajazz.com).
August The family-friendly Montefalco Festival sees street performance, dance and oenogastronomy come to town (www.montefalcodoc.it).
October Chocoholics should make a date with Perugia for the Chocolate Festival, a celebration of the mighty bean, involving tastings and themed stalls (www.eurochocolate.com).
December Umbria Jazz Winter takes place in Orvieto for four days over New Year and includes an amazing New Year dinner with an outdoor concert afterwards (www.umbriajazz.com).