No, really.  When you travel to Italy, don’t just follow the tour books and stick to Florence & its environs– wonderful though they are.  For just as much Italian culture and scenery (for a significantly lower cost), try Umbria.  Right next door, and only a smidge less enticing than its more famous regional neighbor to the west.

Last fall, on a CLE Abroad Program hosted by my alma mater, I had occasion to visit Spoleto, a beautiful town south of Perugia, and an easy drive up from Rome.  The people there are incredibly welcoming (and who wouldn’t be, when facing a horde of American lawyers?), the scenery stunning, and the economy… well, there’s the problem.  Italy has had a rough go of it since the Great Recession a decade ago.  And, while not as bad off as their Greek neighbors across the Adriatic, unemployment has stayed chronically high, and towns like Spoleto have really borne the brunt of the downturn.

But if you visit, plan on some of the best food you’ve ever tasted, some of the warmest hospitality, and a heck of a pleasant surprise.

They might even give you a tour of the courthouse, complete with the chance to don a judge’s robe.