Why visit Perugia
Perugia’s rich historical and cultural heritage demands a visit of more than one day, but with good planning one can admire its most precious treasures and its most authentic and unique, albeit minor, aspects. With a pristine medieval centre and an international student population, Perugia is the largest and most cosmopolitan city of Umbria. Its old town, seemingly little changed in more than 400 years, rises in a helter-skelter of cobbled alleys, arched stairways and piazzas framed by solemn churches and magnificent Gothic style. Reminders of its lively and often bloody past are everywhere, from ancient arches and medieval basilicas to Renaissance frescoes by the likes of Perugino and Raffaello. Here you find a short description of the main attractions.
1) La Fontana Maggiore
The Fontana Maggiore was created between 1278 and 1280 by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano to celebrate the completion of the new aqueduct. It was designed by Friar Bevignate, with the aid, for the hydraulic side, of Boninsegna from Venice.
It consists of two concentric polygonal basins, decorated with 50 bas-reliefs and 24 statues. The lower basin goes to relief scenes of the agrarian tradition, the months of the year with the zodiac signs of the liberal arts, the Bible and the history of Rome. The upper tank is made up of twenty-four plates, separated by statues of allegorical figures and historical sacred.
The two basins are surmounted by a bronze cup, in turn crowned by a group of three “nymphs” who represent the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity).
2) The Roman aqueduct
In 1254 the city of Perugia decided to build an approximately three km long aqueduct from Monte Pacciano to Piazza Grande, within the city. This square is now called Piazza IV Novembre. The aqueduct ran along Via del Fagiano (formerly Via dei Condotti), Via dell’Acquedotto and Via Appia.
The Venetian architect Boninsegna was commissioned to build the aqueduct.
The final part of the structure ran between the Conca area of town and the Etruscan town walls. In 1812 this became a popular walk, and the aqueduct was surmounted by railings along the top of its Medieval arches. Access into town was then through the Arco dell’Acquedotto gate or via the Arco di Via Appia.
The aqueduct ended at the Fontana Maggiore in Piazza Grande (or della Fontana, now Piazza IV Novembre), between the cathedral and Palazzo dei Priori.
333 ) The Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Lording it over Piazza IV Novembre is Perugia’s stark medieval cathedral. A church has stood here since the 900s, but the version you see today was begun in 1345 from designs created by Fra Bevignate. Building continued until 1587, although the main facade was never completed. Inside you’ll find dramatic late-Gothic architecture, an altarpiece by Signorelli and sculptures by Duccio. The steps in front of the facade are where seemingly all of Perugia congregates; they overlook the pink-and-white Fontana Maggiore.
4) The National Gallery of Umbria
The National Gallery of Umbria is organised following a chronological exhibition itinerary structured in 40 rooms on a total surface of 4.000 square meters. It houses one of the most complete collection of artworks in Italy dated between XIII and XIX Centuries, with works by Duccio di Boninsegna, Benedetto Bonfigli, Bartolomeo Caporali, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio, Perugino, Orazio Gentileschi, Pietro da Cortona, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and others.
The first core, coming from the collection of the local “Accademia del Disegno” (Drawing Academy), has been successively enriched by donations and following the Napoleonic and post-Unitarian closure of Religious Orders. The Gallery hosts over 3000 works including paintings, sculptures, pottery, fabrics and jewellery, treasuring seven centuries of Italian history and culture.
In 2015 the National Gallery of Umbria obtained the Martinelli Collection, enriching its artistic patrimony with more than 100 works mainly of Roman Baroque style.
5) Rocca Paolina
The mighty fortress, based on the design by Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane (1540-1543), encompassed the houses, towers and streets of an entire district, recognisable within the complex, and the consequential razing to the ground of the houses of the Baglioni family, of the borough of Santa Giuliana, of the church of Santa Maria dei Servi and of many other medieval buildings.
The architect Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane recomposed on the pediment of the fortress the upper part of an Etruscan arch door: Porta Marzia (III Century B.C.)
The Rocca Paolina was five levels high, composed of a main construction and a smaller one, connected by a corridor. The first was built on Colle Landone and the second, the Rocca Minore, also called “Tenaglia” (tongs), was used as front garrison. The fortress, symbol of pontifical domain on the city, was partly destroyed in 1848, rebuilt in 1860 by Pope Pius IX and then razed to the ground in the same year in the part occupying the present Piazza Italia.
All that remains are the basements, partly still awaiting excavation, of extraordinary charm and uniqueness, crossed through by the escalators and used for exhibitions.
Below the video “Rocca Paolina – La forma della memoria, la città ritrovata” (Rocca Paolina – The shape of memories, the refund City) relised by Paolo Camerieri and Francesco Miniati.
8) Perugina Chocolate Factory
To visit the Wonka-esque world of Perugian chocolate, sign up for a 1¼-hour guided tour (in Italian or English, times vary) of the House of Chocolate. After visiting the museum, you’ll wend your way through an enclosed sky bridge, watching as the white-outfitted Oompa Loompas, factory workers, go about their chocolate-creating business.
The Casa is located at Nestlé’s large, nondescript factory in the outskirts of town – drive through the factory entrance, or take the bus to San Sisto (€1.50, 25 minutes).
For a really hands-on experience, book a place on a three- to four-hour chocolate-making workshop. Held at 10 am and 3.30 pm on Saturdays, these cost between €50 and €70 – check the website for dates and details.
What to eat in Perugia
Thanks to Perugina and its world famous Baci, the city of Perugia is known for chocolates. But there’s so much more to Perugia’s culinary scene for food curious travellers. Umbria offers a bounty of “prodotti tipici” (regional products), linked to centuries-old peasant traditions that use raw ingredients in the most natural state possible. Here are some delicious foods to try on your next visit to Perugia.
1) Pecorino Cheese
Some say the cheeses of Umbria resemble its inhabitants—simple, authentic and boldly flavoured. From sweet and creamy to cave-aged and sharp, Umbria serves up a variety of Pecorino (sheep’s milk) and Caciotta (cow’s milk) cheeses to nibble on with a glass of local, dry wine or at the end of your meal before dessert. For a quick and friendly happy hour with a selection of local cheeses and a glass of Umbrian wine, head over to Caffe Dal Perugino in Piazza Matteotti.
2) Norcia’s ham
Of course no cheese plate should be missing this savoury, cured ham. Prosciutto is famous all over Italy but certain designations stand out for their quality. One of these, Prosciutto di Norcia is an Umbrian staple from the town of Norcia, a place so famous for its butchery products that the term “Norcineria” is synonymous with quality meats and butchery products not only in Umbria but also all over Italy. To sample hand cut or sliced prosciutto di Norcia order a “tagliere” plate at Locanda del Bartoccio in Piazza Matteotti or stop by the deli counter at Umbrò on Via Oberdan.
Tracing its ancient origins to a city just outside of Rome, this savoury, herb-packed boneless pork roast takes centre stage as a street food that owes its unique central Italian flavour to a type of wild fennel that only grows in Umbria. Pick up a Porchetta sandwich at the stand (Antica Salumeria Granieri Amato) in Piazza Matteotti then enjoy it while people watching on the steps of the cathedral in Piazza IV Novembre.
Known as a delicacy since ancient times, the humble-looking truffle was once considered a divine creation endowed with aphrodisiac properties. Highly prized truffles grow abundantly in the Umbrian countryside, where you can hunt for every variety just steps from Perugia’s old town. You’ll find them shaved on grilled meats, used to flavour cheeses and salami, scrambled into eggs, formed into dumplings, preserved in spreads and sautéed with butter to make a heavenly pasta sauce. To experience Perugia’s best truffles in all manner of savoury glory stop for lunch or dinner at Bistrot al Tartufo at the top of Via Ulisse Rocchi. You can also purchase fresh or preserved truffles at Perugia Tartufi in Piazza Danti.
How to get to Perugia by auto or bus
COMING FROM NORTH:
A1 motorway, exit Valdichiana, then junction to Perugia bordering Trasimeno Lake.
COMING FROM SOUTH:
A1 motorway, Exit Orte, then the junction Orte-Terni, Exit to Perugia to get into the E45
COMING FROM NORTH-EAST:
Dual carriageway E45 (Cesena –Orte) all Exits of Perugia
How to move in Perugia
Minimetrò is our new urban transport system from and toward the city centre. We advise you to use this facility instead of using the car because of the several Limited Traffic Zone.
Terminal Pian di Massiano
Madonna Alta Station
Case Bruciate Station
Minimetrò is open from Monday to Sunday, with a ride every 2.5 minutes and works in the following hours:
From Monday to Saturday
Opening time: 7 am
Closing time: 9.05 pm
Sunday and public holidays
Opening time: 9 am
Closing time: 8.45 pm
Last ride 15 minutes before the closing time
MAIN CAR PARKS OF THE CITY
Piazza Partigiani car park – Piazza Partigiani.
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Pellini car park – viale Pellini
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Mercato Coperto car park– via Augusta
Price per hour: 1.90 €.
Briglie di Braccio car park – Via Tancredi Ripa di Meana
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Sant’Antonio car park – viale Sant’Antonio
Price per hour: 1.50 €.
Piazzale Europa car park – piazzale Europa
Price per hour: 1.10 €.
Porta Nova car park – piazzale Umbria Jazz – Pian di Massiano
car park free of charge
SIPA Ltd – Societa’ Immobiliare Parcheggi Auto (Car park development company)
Address: Via M. Fanti 2/8
Please call: 075-5721938 – Fax 075-5732408
OTHER PAID CAR PARKS
Marinelli Via Canali Station F.S. area
Autosilo – Station F.S. area
Cortonese Station, Fontivegge
CAR PARKS FREE OF CHARGE
Bove Piazzale del Bove – Via Campo di Marte
for campers, buses and cars.
Cupa Piazzale della Cupa – Via A. Checchi