Europe

Assisi From Above – Viewing Umbria From A Helicopter

separator
Posted on / by Alex Berger

Helicopter Ride Over Umbria - Near Assisi

Thwomp. Thwomp. Thwomp.  The roar of the wind echoed in my ears as the sound of carbon fiber slicing through the air at high speed nearly drowned out the low scream of the helicopter’s engine.  The pilot touched down briefly in a grassy field at the Valle di Assisi resort. Just long enough for myself and two other travel bloggers to trade places with the three passengers who had just finished their aerial tour of Assisi.  They were all smiles – grins from ear to ear – as they gave us the thumbs up and promised we were in for a real treat.

Helicopter Ride Over Umbria - Near Assisi

In moments I was strapped into the back seat of a pitch black Robinson R44 helicopter. Then with a smooth ease and grace which surprised me we drifted free of the grass and quickly began to climb skyward.  The day was partly cloudy which added a picture-perfect mottled lighting to the vivid green patchwork of fields, vineyards and small greenbelts which surround the historic hilltop city of Assisi.

I invite you to re-live part of the flight with me in the video above.  It helps convey the experience in a way which photos alone can’t quite express.  The main city you’re seeing in the distance on the hilltop is Assisi.  The town with Cathedral on the open plain at the foot of the hill is also considered Assisi.

Helicopter Ride Over Umbria - Near Assisi

The first building we flew over was the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli or Saint Mary of the Angels.  The basilica was constructed between 1569 and 1679 (whew!) and was created to enclose the Porziuncola, a 9th century holy place of significant importance to the Franciscan monks.

Helicopter Ride Over Umbria - Near Assisi

Before long we passed over Santa Maria degli Angeli and were presented with a close up view of Assisi’s most famous cathedral and defining landmark: the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi. The basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mother church for the Franciscan Order. The basilica was begun in the year 1228 – making it an incredibly old structure.  The opportunity to see it from above was a rare one and something I really enjoyed.  It’s one thing to look up at the Basilica from the plain that surrounds Assisi, or to walk its courtyards and gardens.  It’s a completely different experience to hover in the air and look down at the sprawling building from a vantage point that truly helps convey the complex’s size and unique architecture.

Helicopter Ride Over Umbria - Near Assisi

The flight was brief – about 10 minutes – but offered a rare and wonderful opportunity to see the Umbrian countryside from above. The region is gorgeous. Especially in late April when everything is blooming, the fields are all shades of rich green, and the air is crystal clear. When you’re on the ground and are immersed in it, you get to appreciate the finer details – a corner of a field, a small stone house, a carefully manicured vineyard, etc. – but you rarely get the chance to look out over it all and see the sum of the different parts.

A special thank you to the Valle de Assisi resort for the opportunity to take to the skies!   It was a rare and fantastic experience, one which I’ll remember for a long time.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

16 Comments

  • Filip Demuinck
    May 7, 2012

    Must be fun flying a helicopter

    Greetings,
    Filip

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 7, 2012

      Flying in it was great! Next step – get them to let me actually fly one!

      Reply
  • Miruna
    May 7, 2012

    Beautiful photos! I bet it was a great experience, although I’m kind of afraid of helicopters:)

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 7, 2012

      Thank you! Understandable, but it is well worth mastering the fear and going for it. Once you get aloft you’ll hardly notice. It’s actually a really smooth ride – much less intense than taking off in a passenger jet.

      Reply
  • Lorenzo
    May 7, 2012

    Looks like a great experience. The place is gorgeous from above.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 7, 2012

      It really was! Like a giant green tapestry, only in vivid color and with amazing textures.

      Reply
  • Cherina
    May 7, 2012

    Great photos, Alex! Wasn’t that view just to die for?

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 7, 2012

      Definitely! Such a cool experience. I can’t wait to seek out and have another chance to get up in a helicopter. Definitely a fantastic way to see the countryside!

      Reply
  • A Montrealer Abroad
    May 9, 2012

    Wow – it must have been an incredible experience! I would’ve definitely fought my fear of heights to be on that helicopter. Love the second to last shot.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 9, 2012

      Thank you! I think once you did it once you would be thoroughly hooked and see most of your fears evaporate!

      Reply
  • Emily in Chile
    May 9, 2012

    Great views! We did a helicopter tour in Hawaii, and even though I initially felt like I could take or leave the idea, I’m so glad my dad insisted – it’s a pretty special way to see a place.

    Reply
  • Umbria on the Blog
    May 29, 2012

    I think I was more excited about the helicopter ride than my seven and ten-year-old sons. A fun little suprise for the conference, and some great pictures!

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 29, 2012

      I was definitely giddy for it. A very cool surprise! Very cool experiences for them both though!

      Reply

Leave a Reply