Todi: a medieval gem in the green heart of Umbria

Todi in Umbria

I have recently felt the need to revisit places where I had spent a great deal of time as a young girl and this trip down memory lane took me back to a favourite place of mine, that’s so often neglected by visitors and yet it has a charm all of its own, Todi.

After a vertiginous climb round the hill, I found myself back in medieval Todi, the city of archers in the green heart of Umbria, where I had spent many happy childhood summers away from the urban decay and oppressive heat of the Eternal City. Once again, I felt instantly at home and giddy with the locals passion for life.

The magic of this town is in its steep lanes where you can sense an illustrious past under your feet. Even after all these years it still has an old-fashioned charm that lingers on in its cobbled streets, the fancy wrought ironwork of its street lamps, the peeling stucco and elaborate, angular finishes on windowsills. This is a city immensely proud of its history and while people watching in the square, I felt transported to medieval times during their annual archery tournament, where every single resident will parade with pride, their outfits a clear declaration of passionate roots.

Everything was just like I remembered it, the soft stone palazzi had retained a faded ochre and glowed by twilight and houses a pale biscuit hue, like an artist’s back wash applied by nature. Around every corner, a new surprise would appear, a sweeping vista of the green valley below, secluded gardens perched on the hill, only accessible through impossibly narrow alleyways, a neglected altar adorned with plastic flowers tucked away in a dark corner.

These were reassuring reminders that some things are left unchanged by the passing of time. Wandering through its back streets was like playing a game of medieval snakes and ladders and my nostrils were once again tickled by the comforting smell of the past mingled with home-made food!

I wandered back to sit on the church steps, on the same spot where I would contemplate life and listen to the sounds of the night and once again the magic of this very special town cast its spell on me and everyone around. If you are ever on a tour of Umbria, I urge you to make a detour and explore Todi and I’m convinced that you’ll want to go back to it again and again!



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