Perugia travel guide. Discovering a medieval city in the heart of Italy

Perugia

Perugia (Italy) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Perugia with descriptions, guides and maps.

City of Perugia (Italy)

Perugia is a city in central Italy, the capital of the region of Umbria. Located among the hills of the Tiber Valley and is known as the birthplace of the Umbrian school of painting. Perugia is an ancient city with a magnificent medieval historic center, which, in fact, has not changed much since the 14th century and is one of the most beautiful in Italy. Bright and lively, cultural and university, Perugia is a city full of “secrets” worth visiting.

What to do (Perugia):

Journey through the towns of the Sagrantino Wine Road

€250 per tour

Journey through the towns of the Sagrantino Wine Road

Enogastronomic trip through the cities of Perugia

The Etruscan city of Perugia

€130 per tour

The Etruscan city of Perugia

Stroll through the historic capital of Umbria

Geography and climate

Perugia is practically in the geographic center of Italy between Florence and Rome. The city spreads out on the hills of the Tiber River valley. Lake Trasimene (one of the largest in the country) is to the west.

The climate is subtropical. The average annual temperature is about 13 degrees. The coldest month in Perugia is January (average temperature about 4 degrees). The amount of precipitation ranges from 800 to 900 mm.

Panorama of Perugia

Panorama of Perugia

Information for tourists

  1. The population is 165.6 thousand people.
  2. Area – 449.51 square kilometers.
  3. Language: Italian.
  4. Currency – euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Tourist Information Center is located at Porta Nuova and Piazza Matteotti, 18.

History

Many scholars believe that Perugia was founded by the Umbrians. The first written evidence dates back to the Etrurian period. Perugia was one of the 12 Etruscan city-states. In 310 BC the city was conquered by the Romans and became the Roman colony of Perusia. In the first century BC, Perugia was burned during the military conflict between Octavian and Mark Antony.

Perugia

Perugia

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 6th century, the city became the center of the principality of the Lombards. Later in the Middle Ages, Perugia was quite independent. The struggle for power in the city was between the Oddi and Baglioni families, which led to many clashes. In the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Perugia supported the former. During various conflicts and wars the Popes often found salvation and help within its walls.

During the Renaissance, Perugia became the center for the development of the Umbrian school of painting. The city gave the world such giants of art as Perugino and Raphael. In 1540 the Farnese defeated the last of the Baglioni and Perugia was incorporated into the Papal Region. During the Napoleonic wars the city became the capital of the Tiberian Republic. In the 19th century Perugia suffered several earthquakes.

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How to get there

Perugia has an international airport that receives flights from London, Barcelona, Munich, Bucharest and other cities. Rome airport is 3 hours away. There are regular bus and train services to the capital of Italy and major cities.

Shopping

Perugia has many clothing and shoe stores, including well-known brands. Since it’s a university town, it’s no surprise that you can find good bookstores here.

Corso Vannucci is the main shopping street of Perugia. Many stores can be found in Piazza Matteotti, Via C. Fani, Via Baglioni and Via Oberdan. The Coin shopping center, near Piazza della Repubblica, has a good selection of clothing and accessories.

Panorama of Perugia

Panorama of Perugia

Umbrian cuisine is quite simple, but characterized by the high quality of ingredients. The undisputed star of Umbrian cuisine is truffle. Traditional dishes: spaghetti or strangozzi with black truffle, umbrichelli (perch fillet with sauce), spaghetti rancetto with bacon and cheese, pappardelle of hare with cloves, torello alla perugina, grilled meat, chicken in wine, lamb in the oven.

Attractions

Etruscan Walls

Etruscan Walls

The most important sights of Perugia are concentrated in the old town. The historic core of the city has two perimeters of walls. The outer wall dates back to the Middle Ages. Quite large sections of medieval city fortifications and gates have been preserved in Perugia. The inner wall repeats the perimeter of the ancient Etruscan city. Ancient Perugia had seven city gates. There are some remains of Roman and Etruscan fortifications.

Piazza IV Novembre

November IV Square

November IV Square is the square in Perugia and has been the heart of the city since ancient times. In Roman times there was the forum. In the Middle Ages a square was formed which includes five streets. The piazza is surrounded by wonderful old buildings. The highlight of the piazza is the Fountain of Maggiore, built in the 13th century and considered one of the most beautiful medieval fountains in Italy. The beautiful stone sculptures are made by the famous Tuscan masters Pisano. On the west side of the square is the archbishop’s palace, the walls of which now house a natural history museum. The medieval street Via delle Volte leads to Piazza Fortebraccio.

San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo is a cathedral dedicated to one of the city’s patron saints. It was built between 1345 and 1490 in the Gothic style. Interestingly, both the side part and the main façade are still unfinished. The interior is in the late Gothic style, has a beautiful choir, an ancient 14th century stone pulpit and is divided by large columns. In the sacristy, to the right of the main altar, are 16th-century frescoes by di Pesaro. To the east of the cathedral is the Church of San Severo with frescoes by Raphael.

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Pallazzo dei Priori

Pallazzo dei Priori

The Palazzo dei Priori is the most beautiful building in the main square of Perugia. It is a large palace in the Italian Gothic style of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The gryphon (symbol of Perugia), the 14th-century bronze lion and the chains on the façade mark the victory over Siena. On the first floor there is a beautiful hall with ancient frescoes. Very close by is the Collegio del Cambio with frescoes by Perugino.

On the third floor of the palazzo is the National Gallery of Umbria. It presents works by outstanding masters of the Umbrian school of painting – Perugino, Pinturicchio, including frescoes by Benedetto Bonfigli, as well as sculptures by di Cambio and di Duccio. The gallery shows the development of painting in Umbria from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

San Bernardino

San Bernardino

San Bernardino is a medieval oratory with a magnificent façade of colored marble, limestone and glazed ceramics. The façade was designed by Agostino di Duccio, who also participated in the construction of the Malatesta Tempio in Rimini. The semicircular bas-relief in the central arch is the most important Renaissance work in Perugia. Saint Bernardino of Siena, who preached here, was canonized in 1450 and local Franciscan monks built a sanctuary to honor him.

San Pietro

San Pietro

San Pietro is an early Christian church rebuilt in the 12th century. The church has Gothic wooden choirs, made between 1535 and 1591, and ancient columns. The choir is considered one of the best of its kind in Italy. The gilded wooden ceiling dates from the 16th century. The interior is decorated with frescoes and paintings by Perugino, Vasari, Reni and other artists. The sacristy contains paintings by Raphael, Perugino and Parmigianino. Next to the church is the 14th century gate of the same name.

 San Arcangelo

San Arcangelo

San Arcangelo is an early Christian church built between the fifth and sixth centuries. It is located near the ancient northern gate of the same name. It includes 16 columns with Corinthian capitals, which were previously used in a pagan temple. The architecture of the church is early Romanesque with some Byzantine influences. Interesting early Christian symbols can be seen here, including a pentagram at the entrance and crosses in the style used later by the Templars.

San Domenico

San Domenico

San Domenico is a brick church in the Gothic style. The first building was built in 1305, but the nave and vaults collapsed in 1614. Reconstruction of the church continued from 1621 to 1634. The San Domenico style was an example and inspiration for the later San Lorenzo. The temple contains valuable works of art (choir, remnants of ancient frescoes, and a beautiful altar). Here is the tomb of Pope Benedict XI of the 14th century, which is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic tombstones.

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In the former Dominican monastery, which adjoins San Domenico, there is an archaeological museum with valuable and rare Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Some of its exhibits date back to the 2nd millennium B.C.

Arc d

Arco d’Agusto

The Arch d’Agusto is an ancient Etruscan arch built in the 3rd century B.C. and rebuilt under Emperor Augusta in the 1st century B.C. (after whom it was actually named). The inscription “Augusta Perusia” on the gate dates from this period. Augustus succeeded in taking Perugia only after a 7-month siege. The arches of the gate connect the two trapezoidal towers. The loggia at the top was added during the Renaissance period, and the fountain was completed in 1621.

Fortress of Paul III

Fortress of Paul III

The Fortress of Paul III is an ancient fortress and symbol of papal authority until 1860. It was built on behalf of the Pope to make Perugia a safe haven, like the Castle of St. Angelus in Rome. More than 100 buildings were demolished to build this fortification, belonging mainly to the Baglioni family, which was hated by Paul III. After the unification of Italy, the fortress was demolished. Only part of the bastion has survived.

Etruscan Well

Etruscan Well

The Etruscan well is a well 37 meters deep and 5 meters in diameter, dating back to the 3rd or 4th century B.C. The huge structure was used as a water reservoir. The well is open to the public. The bottom is covered with travertine which is also the material used for the walls. The structure is located on the square of Danti.

Interesting tours

Hidden corners of Venice

€200 for a guided tour

Hidden corners of Venice

Medieval, elegant, fragile – walk through the most authentic quarters of the city and comprehend its soul

Rome - sightseeing tour of the main sites and the undiscovered ghetto

€120 per excursion

Rome – a sightseeing tour of the main sites and the undiscovered ghetto

Trace the city’s journey from Antiquity to modern appearance and learn about the inhabitants of the past and present

Perugia. Interwoven arches, a street above the city, and lots and lots of griffins!

Luckily, this is where the weather was lucky – I wouldn’t want to wander through the darkish streets of the city (some seemed to always be in semi-darkness) in the rain. We didn’t want rain any more because Perugia is located on the hills, and not a few of them, the highest point – Piazza Raffaello di Porta Sole – is 493 meters above sea level, and who among us doesn’t love panoramas? So, thanks to the heavenly chancery for the bright November sun, quickly settled in the hotel, first of all I went “for the panorama”. However, almost immediately stopped near this beauty:

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Perugia. Interwoven arches, a street above the city, and lots and lots of griffins!

As I mentioned in the first story about Umbria, it is possible to move between the “tiers” of Perugia by free escalators, but the entrances to them are not always easy to find, most of them are hidden somewhere in the yards, which is actually correct: why spoil the authentic look of medieval streets? There were even two escalators in the vicinity of my hotel Iris, but at first they categorically did not want to be found. Maybe out of spite, or maybe so that for the first time in the center I climbed with my feet and realized that it was not difficult at all. I read about the heights of Perugia, tuned up almost a mountaineering feat, and was very surprised when after five minutes of ascent from the gate San Ecolano, past the church of the same name, was close to Piazza Italia (other photos square in the first story) and one of the most famous local gazebo.

Perugia. Interwoven arches, a street above the city, and lots and lots of griffins!

The view is the best way to fall in love with Perugia: the hills melting in the haze, the huge basilica of San Domenico, the bell towers of San Pietro in the distance and Santa Giuliana a little closer…

Pine trees, Lebanese cedars, the golden crowns of lindens and plane trees among a sea of tiled roofs… Good.

By the way, this splendid terrace was formed in a rather unusual way, refuting with its existence the opinion of Pavel Muratov, who called Perugia a “city of little architecture” in “Images of Italy”. That is, there are indeed no world-famous palaces-cathedrals-squares here, but there is an abundance of architecture as such: all around you, above you, and under you. So, being in Piazza Italia, you are also standing in the medieval quarters of Perugia at the same time! The square was once just a courtyard, or maybe the floor, of one of the halls, of the giant fortress Rocca Paolina, erected to mark the end of a violent confrontation between the noble Baglioni family and the popes.

Without a historical overview there is no way around it… I’ll try to be brief! In the mid-15th century the Baglioni were the undisputed masters of Perugia. The city was governed by a council of 10 members of the clan, which grew so large that various parties were formed within it. On July 14, 1500, an event occurred that has gone down in the history of Perugia as the “Bloody Wedding”. On July 14, 1500 in the history of Perugia, the bloody wedding took place. In the depths of the family, a conspiracy evolved, which culminated in a real massacre… I will not retell it, the details are too gruesome, but I recommend you read it on the web. What a thriller!

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The family lived a boisterous life! They were rich and not by any means humble, testing the patience of the popes. The popes, however, were not of an angelic disposition either. In 1520, Leo X lured the then head of the Gianpaolo family to Rome by deception, torture and decapitation. Open warfare between the popes and Baglioni began from this point on.

The decisive battle occurred in 1540, when Pier Luigi Farnese, papal commander-in-chief and illegitimate son of Paul III, occupied Perugia with a 12,000-strong army of mercenaries. He crushed a rebellion (the city’s inhabitants, led by one Baglioni, were protesting the salt tax) and ended the domination of the powerful clan. After the capture of Perugia, Pope Paul III immediately commissioned the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to design a huge palace, which was transformed into a fortress. And this fortress was to become a “tomb” for walled palaces Baglioni, and at the same time for more than two hundred homes of ordinary citizens.

The construction of Rocca Paolina was a disaster for Perugia: a quarter of the city, including one basilica, seven churches, two monasteries, a hospital and 30 towers, was demolished in the process. The stone monster, a symbol of oppression and humiliation hated by all Perugians, reigned over the vanquished city for more than three centuries.

In 1848, the democratic government of Perugia, which came to power, decided to demolish the fortress. The honor to deliver the first symbolic blow with the pickaxe was given to … Benedetto Baglioni! – The first symbolic blow was given to Benedetto Baglioni, who at the time was the head of the city’s administration (he was also Baglioni)).

On the spot cleared after the liquidation of Rocca Paolina, a wonderful terrace was arranged, a park was laid out, a palace was built, and the city authorities were housed there. In 1931, excavations began in the dungeons of the fortress, and in 1965, the medieval town, which seemed to have disappeared forever, was opened to the public. Well, how is it possible not to look there? Especially for free, and the more so that you can go down into the dungeon easily by escalator from Piazza Italia.

Some “halls” are used as exhibition halls, others as souvenir stores. At one of the intersections you can often hear soft music…

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