- Introduction to Perugia
- Brief history of Perugia
- Why visit Perugia
- Top sights to see in Perugia
- Palazzo dei Priori
- National Gallery of Umbria
- Rocca Paolina
- Fontana Maggiore
- Oratorio di San Bernardino
- Food and drink in Perugia
- Local specialties to try
- Best places to eat in Perugia
- Wine tasting in Perugia
- Festivals in Perugia
- Umbria Jazz Festival
- Eurochocolate Festival
- Perugia Flower Show
- Day trips from Perugia
- Lake Trasimeno
- Cities Nearby
Introduction to Perugia
Brief history of Perugia
Perugia is a city located in central Italy, with origins tracing back to the Etruscan civilization. The city has a rich history, with evidence of human settlements existing in the area dating back to the Bronze Age. During the Roman era, Perugia was an important city and served as a base for the Roman army. Over time, the city was ruled by a number of different powers, including the Lombards, the papacy, and different Italian states. Today, Perugia is a bustling city with a unique blend of historic and modern amenities. Visitors can explore ancient architecture, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the city's vibrant cultural scene.
Why visit Perugia
Perugia is a charming hilltop city in central Italy that is often overlooked by tourists. But those who take the time to visit will be rewarded with stunning architecture, exquisite local cuisine, and breathtaking views of the Umbrian countryside. Perugia is a city that is steeped in history, and visitors will find themselves transported back in time as they wander through its narrow streets and alleyways. From the ancient Etruscan walls that encircle the city to the Gothic and Renaissance buildings that dominate its skyline, there is no shortage of architectural wonders to marvel at. But Perugia is not just a city for history buffs. It is also a vibrant and modern city with a lively student population, bustling markets, and some of the best food and wine in Italy. Whether you're looking to explore the city's rich cultural heritage or simply soak up the atmosphere of its lively piazzas and streets, Perugia has something for everyone.
Top sights to see in Perugia
Palazzo dei Priori
The Palazzo dei Priori is one of Perugia's most iconic landmarks, located in the heart of the historic centre. Built in the 1300s, the palace is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture and houses the city's municipal offices and civic museum. Visitors can explore the impressive frescoes and paintings on display, as well as the ornate Gothic interiors and decorative arches. One of the most popular attractions in the Palazzo is the Sala del Collegio del Cambio, a lavishly decorated room that was once the exchange for Perugia's powerful bankers. The frescoes adorning the walls are considered some of the finest examples of 15th-century art and depict scenes from the life of St. Nicholas. Visitors to the Palazzo dei Priori will be transported back in time to the golden age of Perugia's medieval power and wealth. In addition to its historical and artistic significance, the Palazzo dei Priori also offers stunning views of the city from its rooftop terrace. Visitors can take in the panoramic vista of Perugia's winding streets, red-tiled roofs, and rolling hills, providing a breathtaking finale to their visit to this remarkable palace.
National Gallery of Umbria
The National Gallery of Umbria is a treasure trove of artistic works. Visitors can feast their eyes on masterpieces from the 13th to the 19th centuries. There are many sections to the museum including the medieval frescoes, the Renaissance masterpieces, and the Baroque works. Paintings from artists like Perugino and Pinturicchio are sure to impress. The museum is housed in the impressive Palazzo dei Priori, which is a work of art in itself. This palace is one of the oldest and most important in the city and was built in the 13th century. Tucked away within its walls are over 300 works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts. The National Gallery of Umbria is a must-see for any art lover in Perugia.
Constructed during the 1540s, the Rocca Paolina is a formidable and imposing fortress in Perugia. The fortress was commissioned by Pope Paul III to show the city who was in charge after the bloody sieges. This remarkable structure lies at the heart of the city and boasts an underground level containing cells, dungeons and passageways utilized by the Inquisition. The fortress' upper ramparts provide spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and central Perugia. Visitors can take a closer look at the cannons lining the walls and the famous equestrian statue of Pope Paul III.
Fontana Maggiore is a stunning medieval fountain located in the heart of Perugia. Designed by Fra Bevignate and Nicola Pisano in the 13th century, it is a masterpiece of Gothic sculpture and architecture. The fountain is adorned with intricate reliefs depicting symbolic and mythological figures, as well as scenes from the Bible and Roman history. The fontana is an iconic attraction in Perugia and a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists. It is beautifully lit at night, making it an ideal spot for an evening stroll or a romantic date. During the summer months, visitors can take a refreshing break and enjoy the water spectacle of the fountain's numerous jets and spouts. Overall, the Fontana Maggiore is a must-see for anyone visiting Perugia.
Oratorio di San Bernardino
The Oratorio di San Bernardino is a magnificent, small chapel located in the heart of Perugia. It is famous for its intricate frescoes that cover the walls and ceiling. The chapel was built in the 15th century and is dedicated to St. Bernardine of Siena. The frescoes inside the Oratorio di San Bernardino are considered to be among the most beautiful in Italy. They were created by artists such as Bonfigli, Benedetto Bonfigli, and Pinturicchio and depict scenes from the life of St. Bernardine. Visitors can also see a painting of the Madonna with Child, which is considered to be one of the most important works of art in the chapel. The Oratorio di San Bernardino is a must-see for art lovers and history buffs. Its stunning frescoes and unique architecture make it one of the most beautiful and important religious sites in Perugia. Visitors can easily spend an hour or more exploring the chapel and admiring its intricate artwork.
Food and drink in Perugia
Local specialties to try
Perugia, the capital of Umbria, is renowned for its remarkable culinary tradition. The city has a vast and varied food scene, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts. From handmade pasta to cured meats, Perugia has much to offer in the way of local specialities. Some of the must-try dishes of Perugia include the truffle-laced pasta dishes, like Strangozzi al Tartufo, which is a handmade pasta in a rich truffle sauce. Another regional favourite is Porchetta, a succulent roast pork dish that is seasoned with aromatic herbs, garlic, and fennel seeds. Finally, no trip to Perugia is complete without trying their delicious wines, like the Sagrantino di Montefalco, which is one of the best red wines in Italy.
Best places to eat in Perugia
Perugia is known for its exceptional cuisine and offers a variety of fantastic dining options. Il Tramezzino Di Perugia is a must-visit for lunch with their authentic Italian sandwiches, while Osteria a Priori is a cozy spot for a wonderful dinner with family or friends. For a fine dining experience, head to Michelin-starred restaurant Le Delizie del Borgo for a creative and exquisite tasting menu. Don't forget to try the local specialty, porchetta, at any of these places or at one of the many street vendors throughout the historic city center.
Wine tasting in Perugia
Perugia has been known for its wine-making since ancient times, and today the region is home to a variety of high-quality wines. Visitors can enjoy a wine tasting tour at one of the many wineries around the city. The tour includes a visit to the vineyard, where visitors can learn about the grape varieties grown in the region and the wine-making process. The highlight of the tour is the wine tasting session, during which visitors can try the local wines and learn about their unique characteristics and flavors. The wineries also offer guided tastings, where expert sommeliers guide visitors through the wine selection and provide insights into the winemaking tradition of Perugia. Wine tasting in Perugia is a must-do activity for wine lovers and those who want to discover the region's rich wine culture.
Festivals in Perugia
Umbria Jazz Festival
The Umbria Jazz Festival, held annually in July, is one of the most important jazz festivals in the world. The festival began in 1973 and has welcomed some of the biggest names in jazz history, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Wynton Marsalis. During the festival, stages are set up throughout Perugia's historic center, and live music can be heard at nearly every turn. The festival also offers masterclasses, workshops, and exhibitions, making it a must-see for any jazz aficionado visiting Perugia. In addition to jazz, the festival also features performances by blues, soul, and funk artists. The lively atmosphere, stunning venues, and world-class music make the Umbria Jazz Festival an unforgettable experience for visitors to Perugia.
In October, chocolate lovers flock to the Eurochocolate Festival in Perugia. This annual event is the ideal opportunity to discover the world of chocolate. Stroll through the town, admire the chocolate sculptures on display, and indulge in a variety of tasty treats. At Eurochocolate, there is something for everyone, no matter what your age or tastes. You will find an abundance of local and international chocolatiers, who offer everything from artisanal chocolate to more unusual combinations. For an unforgettable experience, take a chocolate-making workshop, and discover the secrets of this delicious delicacy. In conclusion, if you love chocolate, do not miss the Eurochocolate Festival in Perugia. You won't be disappointed by the range of chocolate-related activities, tastings, and events on offer. This festival guarantees indulgence, decadence and a fantastic time for all visitors.
Perugia Flower Show
Perugia Flower Show is one of the most beautiful and impressive events held in the city. The Flower Show is a celebration of the spring season and attracts visitors from all over the world. The festival takes place in Piazza IV Novembre, where the entire square is transformed into a colorful flower garden with thousands of fragrant flowers. The festival features flower displays, workshops, and tastings of local products. The best part of the festival is the chance to take a guided tour of the city's most beautiful gardens, many of which are not open to the public. The Flower Show is a must-see for flower lovers and a great way to experience the beauty of Perugia in the spring.
Day trips from Perugia
Assisi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most popular day trips from Perugia. Home to the famous St. Francis Basilica, the town offers a spiritual and cultural experience for visitors. The Basilica, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, contains many frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue. It also houses the tomb of St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan order. In addition to the basilica, Assisi boasts many winding streets and charming squares, where visitors can explore local artisan shops and taste Umbrian cuisine. From Perugia, visitors can reach Assisi by train in just 20-30 minutes. It is recommended to spend at least half a day in the town to fully appreciate its beauty and significance.
Located just 20km west of Perugia, Lake Trasimeno is the largest lake in central Italy. A popular destination for locals and tourists alike, it offers a range of leisure activities including swimming, boating, and fishing. Be sure to visit the picturesque medieval town of Castiglione del Lago, situated on the lake's western shore. Here you can explore the town's historic castle and enjoy stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside. For a unique experience, take a ferry to the lake's three islands - Maggiore, Minore, and Polvese - each with its own distinct character and attractions.
Nestled in the hills of Umbria, the medieval town of Gubbio is a short day trip from Perugia. Visitors can admire the town's winding streets and impressive architecture, including the Roman Theatre and the ancient Piazza Grande. One of Gubbio's main attractions is the unique Candle Race held every year on May 15, where locals compete in a race with candles. Gubbio is also known for its picturesque views, with the Mount Ingino cable car providing an unforgettable panoramic view of the town and surrounding hills. Antique shops and local markets are popular among tourists, who can indulge in Gubbio's famous truffles and visit the medieval Palazzo dei Consoli museum. Gubbio offers a charming glimpse into the history and culture of Umbria.
Located just 40 minutes south of Perugia by car or train, the charming town of Spello offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Known for its beautiful architecture, Spello boasts several stunning churches and buildings, including the 12th-century Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Romanesque Church of San Lorenzo. Visitors can stroll along the town's narrow, winding streets lined with flowers and historic stone buildings. Don't miss the chance to sample the town's famous olive oil and traditional Umbrian cuisine, or explore the nearby Roman ruins of Colonia Julia Hispellum. With its picturesque beauty and rich history, Spello is a must-visit day trip when in Perugia.
Just an hour's drive from Perugia lies the charming hilltop town of Todi. With its narrow streets, ancient walls and stunning views of the surrounding countryside, Todi is a must-visit destination for those exploring Umbria. Start your visit at the Piazza del Popolo, the heart of the town, and explore the Gothic-style Palazzo del Priori and the 11th-century Duomo. Take a stroll through Todi's beautiful gardens and parks, or sample the local cuisine at one of the many restaurants and cafes. End the day with a panoramic view of the surrounding region from the top of Todi's medieval fortress. With its rich history and stunning scenery, Todi offers a perfect escape from city life.
Have a good trip!