Perugia is a city in the Italian region of Umbria. It has an important university that attracts many foreign students, is a major center of medieval art, has a stunningly beautiful central area and is home of the Umbria Jazz Festival. The city is a major producer of chocolates.
Perugia is a large hill town. Most major attractions are at the top of the hill in the Centro Storico (historic center). It is almost impossible to access the Centro Storico by car unless you have a confirmed hotel booking. Even outside the very centre you will drive very slowly over the many cobblestoned one-way streets and may very well end up driving around in circles several times as traffic signs are very confusing. You are best advised to do as little driving as possible, and get around on foot. The main car park for tourists is at Piazza Partigiani. From there you can take a series of escalators (hopefully most of them will be working!) up into the old town. There are lots of interesting things to see on the way up as the route was dug through the Rocca Paolina, a medieval citadel. More details about car parks (in English) can be found. Small buses also go to the top. The railway station is, inevitably, some distance from the hilly center, but buses are easily available.
In 2008 Perugia opened its MiniMetro. This is a small, driverless train that every two minutes or so takes you from a car park (Pian di Massiano) near the football stadium or from the main station to the center of town; a single ticket is €1.50 as of May 2012. However, if you are planning a night on the town. note that these trains stop running at around 21.00.
Within the central area getting around on foot is best, although some of the hills can be a bit steep and you will need to be fit.
THINGS TO SEE
- Undergound Perugia. The escalators from the lower town lead up through the remains of Rocca Paolina which was a 16th-century fortress. This was built on top of medieval streets, which were used as foundations, and before coming out into daylight at Piazza Italia you go through some of these medieval streets covered with brick ceilings when the fortress was built. Little now remains of the fortress itself.
- Porta Marzia (Marzia Gate). This is an Etruscan city gate built in the Third Century BC and much later incorporated into the city walls. It is close to the remains of the Paolina Fortress.
- Fontana Maggiore. This large medieval fountain is found between the cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori. It was made between 1277 and 1278 by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano as part of Perugia's celebrations of its independence. On the twenty-five sides of the basin are sculptures representing prophets and saints, the work of the seasons, signs of the zodiac, Bible scenes and events from Roman history.
- Cathedral of San Lorenzo. This has an unusual layout for Italian churches in that the side rather than the front entrance faces the main square. There have been many churches on the site: this one was last worked on around 1490. But finished it was not, as can be clearly seen from the unfinished facade facing the square. This side includes the Loggia di Braccio, an early Renaissance structure. Under it a section of Roman wall and the basement of the old bell tower can be seen. Also found here is the 1264 Pietra della Giustizia ("Justice Stone") with which Perugia announced that it had repaid its public debt, a not inconsiderable feat. Also noteworthy is the external pulpit from which Saint Bernardine of Siena, a virulently anti-homosexual priest, would preach.
- Palazzo dei Priori (Town Hall), (Opposite the side of the cathedral, with its main entrance on Corso Vannucci). This is a large building in Italian Gothic style built in the early 1300s. On the side facing the piazza are a griffin, the emblem of Perugia, a 14th century bronze lion, and some chains, from where the keys of Siena were displayed after victory over the Sienese in 1358. Inside is the impressive meeting room, the Sala dei Notari. On the second floor is the Municipal Library. The building also houses the National Gallery of Umbria
- Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (National Gallery of Umbria), (in the Palazzo dei Priori on Corso Vannucci). 8.30-19.30 from Tuesdays to Sundays: closed Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 25 December.. The collection consists of paintings from the 13th to the 19th century, including artists such as Perugino, Nicola e Giovanni Pisano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, and Pintoricchio. 6.50.
- Etruscan Well (''Pozzo Etrusco''), Piazza Danti 18 (To the right, just past the front entrance of the cathedral). 11.00-13.30 / 14.30-17.00, longer in the summer months. Damp and dark but an excellent way of appreciating the skills of Third Century BC Etruscan architects.
- Just walking around. There is probably no city in the world that better rewards the casual explorer in the sheer variety of its streetscapes. You can stroll along a Roman aqueduct that connects two of the city's hills, passing doors on the third stories of homes to peer over the edge at the doors at street level below. You can walk along the Via delle Volta della Pace, which follows the Etruscan city wall, but is now wholly arched over by a Gothic portico. You can stumble along cobbled streets that have the unique combination of slopes interrupted by small steps that only Italians seem to master. The wide, traffic-free Corso Vannucci, named after the painter known as Il Perugino, is what really makes Perugia. You can loll with the students from the International University on the steps of the Cathedral at one end or amble down the Corso from those steps to sit on a bench at the other end and look over Umbria's hills as the sun sets.
- San Domenico is on Corso Cavour, down the hill to the southeast of Corso Vannucci. It is a Gothic church whose three aisles were a model for the design of the later cathedral of San Lorenzo. San Domenico has faced many problems in the past. Soon after its completion, the upper section was found to be unstable and had to be demolished. In 1614 and 1615 other parts collapsed. The rebuilt church was consecrated in 1632.
- San Pietro. About 600mt further along Corso Cavour after San Domenico, this church and abbey is well filled with fine works of art, including by Perugino. Interesting hexagonal bell tower. Make sure you visit the sacristy where you can see Caravaggio, Raffaello and Perugino art.
- Post Science center, Via del melo 34 (Downtown near Etruscan Arc), ☎ +390755736501. A nice Science center where adults and children can explore Science and technology playing with exhibits or participating to laboratories on Sunday afternoon from October to April (telephone to reserve)
THINGS TO DO
- Umbria Jazz. The Umbrian Jazz festival takes place all over Umbria but is centred on Perugia, with a large number of concerts both free and with admission fee. Over the years the Festival has attracted just about every famous jazz player. The Festival takes place for a week and two weekends in the middle of July every year. During this period Perugia has a really beautiful atmosphere, with jazz concerts in the center of the city.
- Eurochoclate. Perugia is home to the producers of Perugina and Baci chocolates. It hosts a very popular annual chocolate festival every October.
- Music Fest Perugia. Over two weeks in August, MusicFestPerugia produces classical concerts in the historical and sumptuous surroundings of Sala dei Notari, Basilica di San Pietro, the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Caio Melisso. Performed by a combination of world famous professionals, and their most promising students, MusicFestPerugia aims to keep the classical repertoire vibrant and alive Please visit our website for more information.