Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Mostly hilly or mountainous, its topography is dominated by the Apennines, with the highest point in the region at Monte Vettore on the border of the Marche, at 2,476 m (8,123 ft), and the Tiber valley basin, with the lowest point at Attigliano, 96 m (315 ft). It is the only Italian region having neither coastline nor common border with other countries.
The Tiber river forms the approximate border with Lazio, although its source is just over the Tuscan border. The Tiber's three principal tributaries flow southward through Umbria. The Chiascio basin is relatively uninhabited as far as Bastia Umbra. About 10 km (6 mi) further 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 Chiascio-Topino basin is in a fairly large floodplain.
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, but an earthquake in the 4th century and the political collapse of the Roman Empire resulted in the reflooding of the basin. It was drained a second time, almost a thousand years later, during a five-hundred-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, one sometimes sees Umbria called il cuor verde d'Italia (the green heart of Italy). The phrase is taken from a poem by Giosuè Carducci — the subject of which is not Umbria but rather a specific place in it, the source of the Clitunno river.
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