Saturday, November 27

Local Guide To Perugia, Italy: Five Great Things To Do | Umbria Holidays

Writer and guide on foot. living in Perugia for 12 years, Gianluigi Bettin is co-author of the Via di Francesco The GuideTerre di Mezzo, € 20).


Perugia is a great place to enjoy products and specialties from all over Umbria. A recent restaurant discovery was Number zero, where the owners are interested in social inclusion and employ young people with mental health problems. His philosophy is to create a place where “being different is not a cause for shame.”

I went there on a first date, and even though that relationship didn’t work out, I’m still in love with the restaurant for its food and super friendly service. They do a lot of meat, all sourced from small farms (I had precious pigeon with chard and berries), but my vegetarian date enjoyed their zucchini pickle and strangozzi pasta with vegetable ragout.


Underground tunnels and chambers of the Rocca Paolina fortress.
Underground tunnels and chambers of the Rocca Paolina fortress. Photograph: Bernard Bialorucki / Alamy

Help! How can I choose a place in a city with 2,500 years of history? The two miles of Etruscan walls? The medieval Sciri Tower? I am a flâneur, a Perugian Baudelaire, and my favorite ride is in the twilight Rocca Paolina, which smacks of plots and power struggles from centuries past. It is a fortress built in 1543 for Pope Paul III, with an entire district, particularly the home of his arch-enemies the Baglionis, demolished or remodeled. All very Game of Thrones. Today it is a series of high-ceilinged corridors below the old town, all open to the public, with exhibition spaces and a museum. Continue the journey back in time with a tour (€ 10 per person) of the excavations below San Lorenzo Cathedral, which takes you to Roman Perugia, and then back to when this was the Acropolis of the Etruscans, with a 6th century BC temple. C.

Fast guide

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Porta Sole has become the creative neighborhood of the city, where there is always something new to see: performance, street art, poetry, craft workshops. Begin with Dammit (closest translation: “Damn it”) bookstore on Via Cartolari, which specializes in small publishers and organizes regular evening events, then follow Via della Viola past small shops and restaurants to the Very modern post cinema, actually the oldest in Perugia. It closed in 2000 but reopened in 2014, thanks to the crowdfunding of a social company. The cinema has three screens and an outside terrace for snacks.

Green space

Many people connect the Tiber to Rome, but since its source in the Apennines, the river passes under Perugia, and can be reached in a two-hour circular walk along Trail of the washerwomen (Walk of the washerwomen, part of the 550 km Via di Francesco trail). It begins at the door of Porta Pesa, where the washerwomen from the riverside town of Pretola used to arrive. Once the only route from the city to the river, the path is mentioned in a Perugia city council document from 1299, but was still used by washerwomen until the mid-1960s. Every Sunday they could be seen coming to collect the clothes of wealthy families. The trail, reinstalled in 2011, runs alongside a stream, through fields and forests to the Pretola water mill with its medieval tower. Download Perugia InApp for more GPS-marked walking routes.

Night life

Night strollers on Corso Vanucci.
Night strollers on Corso Vanucci. Photograph: Getty Images

Point of view Bar, on the hill below the town hall, has a breathtaking view over the Tiber valley and good cocktails. But the best thing to do in one evening is to stroll down Corso Vanucci, sit on a terrace at a bar and people-watch. DempseyNear the cathedral, there is a cocktail bar open until 1.30am, with all the spirits of the world apparently on sale and fantastic margaritas. Down the narrow Via del Sole is Wine store, with live jazz on Wednesdays and a wide variety of Umbrian wines.

To stay

Little Italy Hostel It was converted from an 11th century church. Dorms start at € 17, but there are also family rooms and a double room in an old side chapel. Hotel Fortuna It is in a 14th century building facing Corso Vanucci, with a roof terrace, doubles from € 77 and flats from € 380 a week.

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