A quiet kind of romance lingers in the medieval streets of Perugia. Vineyards, sunflowers and picturesque peaks abound the small city, leading newcomers on a happy journey into the capital of Italy’s Umbria region.
The walled city wears potted flowers, balcony herbs and scrambling vines with an old-world elegance that fits my cinematic ideals of central Italy. I spent evenings exploring the delightful nooks and alleys with a camera in hand. Walking the city is a matter of ascending and weaving through narrow lanes, under stone arches and across modern ramps. There are wide but shallow steps that scale the old town edges and rows of cafes that dress the central streets.
I found the echoing arias of an opera singer two storeys above the street. I savoured the the sweet warm scent of baking bread as dusk settled across the city. I smiled at the refreshing novelty of rain on cobblestones.
Here are some of my snaps from Perugia wanderings.
Tips for wandering Perugia:
I didn’t know much about Perugia before I arrived. I’d heard of the beauty of Umbria and was looking for an Italian town between Rome and Florence where I could spend a week working (with some travel on the side). Perugia is easily reached by train from both Florence and Rome. Check out www.trenitalia.com website for schedules and fares.
The ‘mini metro’ is Perugia’s solution to the restricted car policy that keeps the historical centre quiet and the really big hill that divides the centre from the rest of the town. You can buy a ticket from the machines outside stations and use it to connect the train station to the city centre.
I found Perugia to be a sleepy city with a youthful edge; a hushed placed by day and a festive commune by night. There are a couple of universities in town, so keep an eye out for nearby bars and piazzas where students mingle come dusk. Also:
- Caffe Morlacchi has music jams every night of the week from 7.30pm.
- La Bottela is a fun hole-in-the-wall cafe/bar that specialises in ham and wine.
- La Lanterna is a good restaurant to taste the specialties of the region without a top shelf price tag. They also serve gluten-free pasta, which was a lovely surprise.
- There is an enticing gelataria near the lookout on the far side of the city. It serves a mean affogato and is open late.
While you can see the highlights of Perugia in a full day, the essence of the city needs time to seep into your bones. If you love a laid-back town, I would suggest two or three days to take it all in.
There are some lovely day trips from Perugia, including a train and bus connection to nearby Lake Trasimeno.