If you are interested in medieval cities, you should definitely visit Perugia. Located in Umbria, the green heart of Italy, Etruscan Perugia offers splendid views and landscapes. Throughout history, the city has been the scene of wars and papal diatribes, but also the birthplace of famous names like Luisa Spagnoli. Moreover, it hosts two of the most famous Italian festivals like Umbria Jazz, which every year gathers artists and musicians from all over the world, and also Eurochocolate, which offers the chance to eat and buy chocolate from around the world.
Perugia, strongly fortified by art and nature, on a lofty eminence, rising abruptly from the plain where purple mountains mingle with the distant sky, is glowing, on its market-day, with radiant colours.Charles Dickens, English writer and social critic
In addition to this, Perugia is also a precious archaeological landscape. Etruscan and Romans ruins populate the city and make it a real life treasure chest and Etruscan doors and walls and Roman streets and mosaics are just few examples of what you can see in the city.
The most beautiful spots you shouldn’t miss are:
1. Fonatana Maggiore
One of the most famous places of the city, this is the end point of the acqueduct and was built to celebrate the arrival of water in the city.
2. Arco Etrusco
This Arch is Perugia’s biggest and most monumental door and looks to the north. Engraved on the top you can read “Augusta Perusia”.
3. Doors and city walls
Like any medieval city, Perugia was also enclosed by walls to protect its citizens from enemies. Walking around you can see the old ruins of these walls as well as 22 old doors which have all different names. The most famous are Porta Sole, Porta Eburnea, Porta San Pietro, Porta San’Angelo and Porta Santa Susanna. These ones divide the city into districts that every year compete during “Perugia 1416”.
4. Rocca Paolina and the Gardens
The Rocca Paolina links the center street to the lower part of Perugia and inside you can see the ruins of the ancient palaces. It was built on the behalf of Pope Paul III and it symbolizes the power on the city. Indeed, after citizens rose up against the high salt taxes he imposed, he decided to dismantle some of ancient Baglioni’s family properties in order to build this palace. Citizens refused to pay the taxes and since then the bread is made without salt.
On the other hand, the gardens behind the Rocca Paolina are a beautiful sight to take photos and enjoy the landscape. If you cross the street and go to the terrasse, in the brightest days you can perfectly see Assisi and the mountains far away. Moreover, if you find yourself there at the sunset, you have to stop at Punto di Vista Bar on the terrasse, it is more than worth it!
5. National Gallery of Umbria
If you love art you cannot miss this one. The National Gallery of Umbria, one of Italy’s leading art collections, is housed in the upper floors of the Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia, home of the Comune, or municipality, since the Middle Ages. The collections feature a wealth of important mediaeval and Renaissance works by artists such as Arnolfo di Cambio, Duccio, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli and Piero della Francesca.
6. Saint Peter’s Church
The abbey of San Pietro was built around the year 996 and rises up on a sacred Etruscan-Roman area. The first documents mentioning the church are from 1002 and the founder was abbot Pietro Vincioli, a nobleman from Perugia, later canonized.
However, the church hosts a mysterious painting. Il ‘trionfo dell’Ordine bedettino’ by Antonio Vassilacchi represents 300 characters among which are popes, saints and bishops. However, from afar you can notice a creepy devil face.