Perugia is a little jewel that visitors discover slowly. This town has artistic and monumental treasures of a rich past. It looks like a small fortified medieval village, but Perugia has a very busy city life. There is one of oldest University of the Studies of Italy (founded in 1308), as well as the biggest University for foreigners in Italy. So it’s not a city full of tourists during the day and empty at night. There are a lot of monuments to visit: from the National Gallery to the Etruscan Well (Pozzo Etrusco) , the Oratory of San Bernardino to Corso Vannucci. Below we suggest you 10 things to do and see in Perugia, the remain is a surprise you’ll discover by yourself.
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Fontana Maggiore in Perugia
The Fontana Maggiore is a medieval fountain located in Piazza IV Novembre. This gorgeous fountain is one of the most celebrated in Italy and a real symbol of Perugia. The Fontana Maggiore (Main Fountain) was built between 1275 and 1278, by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano.
It was supposed to receive the waters from the Mount Pacciano aqueduct and it was built on a round stairway, composed by two basins of pink and white stone. Over the upper basin there is a bronze round vessel and three nymphs with an amphora from which the water spread out.
On the upper basin there are statues representing the mythic characters linked to the foundation of the city; the lower basin is decorated with fifty bas-relieves representing the agriculture works, and some Byble episodes, the two symbols of the city (the gryphon), of the guelf party (the lion) and of the Empire (the eagle). You can admire also two bas-relieves representing images from the Esopo’s tales (the crane and the wolf; the wolf and the lamb). The fountain has been recently restored, and now you can admire it in all its splendor.
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo in Perugia
The Cathedral, titled to San Lorenzo, one of the saint patrons of the city, was built between 1345 and 1490. Both the lateral part and the principal façade are still incomplete.
The side wall has some geometric twine of pink and white marble rhombus. The main façade is characterized by a baroque style main door, dated back in 1729.
The interior, with a late Gothic style, has three naves of the same height, divided by big columns.
The decorations were finished in XVIII century and, among these, the most important are : the “Deposition” by Federico Barocci, the polychrome window dated back in XVI century, by Arrigo Fiammingo, and the Funerary Monument in honour of the bishop Andrea Baglioni by Urbano da Cortona. In the cloister you can admire the Museo Capitolare, with important art works.
Where: Piazza 4 Novembre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: The holy mass is celebrated from Monday to Saturday at 7.20 am, 8 am, 9.30 am, 11 am and 6 pm. In the public holidays at 8 am, 10 am, 11.30 am and 6 pm
Tickets: free entrance. Museum + archeological path: full ticket € 8 – reduced ticket € 6
The National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia
The National Gallery of Umbria is located in Palazzo dei Priori, Corso Vannucci. Its foundation is dated back in 1878 and it has the richest and the most complete artistic patrimony of all the region.
The works are from XIII to the XIX century and they are organized under a chronological path: at the third floor there are the works dated back from the XIII to the XV century, and at the second floor the works dated back from XVI to the XIX century.
The big difference from other museums is that in this gallery the works are in a little space, so they follow one another without breaks. You can admire, in one sight, all the Virgins and the polyptych represented by the Florentine painting of 1400, the masterpiece of the Renaissance and the unique pieces of Umbria goldsmiths art. Among all these works stand out the Duccio Buoninsegna, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Pinturicchio and Perugino ones. Furthermore there are some collections dedicated to the goldsmiths art, to the ancient graphic, to the topography and to the Umbria fabrics.
Where: Palazzo dei Priori, in Corso Vannucci
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
When – Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday, 8.30 am – 7.30 pm
Never: Monday, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December
Tickets: 6,50 €, reduced tickets 3,25 €
Rocca Paolina in Perugia
Pope Paolo III commissioned Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to build Rocca Paolina (Paolina stronghold) The Pope wanted to make the city safe and to create an efficient refuge as it was Castel Sant’Angelo. To build this fortified tower more than one hundred houses, monasteries and churches were destroyed, especially the ones which were properties of the Baglioni family. This family was very hated by Paolo III.
The Rocca was symbol of pope authority until 1860, then it was pulled down after the annexation of the region with the Reign of Italy. There are still visible some parts of the walls of this tower and the bastion of Porta Marzia (Marzia door). But the most interesting part of this Rocca are the undergrounds, in particular the escalator that from the parking, situated in Piazza Partigiani, run through the Rocca under the lateral door of the Palazzo del Governo (from 1870 it’s the seat of the Region government) up to Piazza Italia. In this unique scenario there are shops, boutiques, bookshops and take place some cultural events.
Oratorio di San Bernardino in Perugia
Franciscan friars wanted this Oratory in honor of San Bernardino da Siena. The beautiful polychromatic façade was made by Agostino di Duccio, who used various materials and was able to create a real colour symphony which explodes in a charming reflex game. Agostino di Duccio used an elegant stone and marble embroidery to glorify the Saint. This work is the highest expression of the Perugia’s Renaissance.
A double door is the entrance of this church which has a beautiful Gothic interior and the altar is a pre-Christian sarcophagus dated back to the IV century. It has the mortal remains of the Blessed Egidio, friend of San Francesco. Behind the altar there is another door which leads into the Saint Andrew Oratory, which has a painted ceiling coffer dated back between the XVIII and XIX century.
Where: Piazza San Francesco al Prato
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
When – Hours: The mass is celebrated from Monday to Saturday at 5.30 pm; Public holidays 12 am and 5.30 pm
Tickets: Free entrance
Etruscan Well in Perugia
This well is a great work of hydraulic engineering and it belonged to the family Corbello. It’s the result of the technical knowledge and civic level of the Etruscan population 300 years before Christ.
Its construction is dated back in IV or III century BC, but even if the date is uncertain, the dimensions of this well are sure: 37 meters deep and 5 meters of diameter. A huge construction used as water tank: here flowed waters of three aquifers of Perugia. You can visit the well thanks to some stairs which allow the visitor to reach its deepest point. The bottom of the well is covered of travertine, the same material has been used also for the covering of the well. If you pass in Piazza Danti, don’t forget to visit this incredible work of hydraulic engineering.
Where: Piazza Danti
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
When – Hours: every day 10 am to 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm 6.30 pm.
Tickets: Unique ticket to visit the Etruscan Well, Chapel of San Severo and Museum of the doors and walls: 2,50 €, reduced tickets: 2€ and 1€.
Perugina Chocolate Factory
Baci Perugina (the famous Italian chocolate “kisses” filled with hazelnut and wrapped in a multilingual love note) take their name from the city of Perugia . Originally called “punches” have become a symbol in the world.
The Perugina factory is located just outside the historic center and you can visit it. You’ll have the chance to discover the company history and, above all, to observe the production of kisses and other products (Rossana candies, Ore Liete cookies). The visit to Perugina Chocolate Factory lasts about 1h 15min and allows you to discover the historical museum, the visit to the production lines of chocolate, a beautiful and rich tasting of Perugina products, and finally to access to the internal sales point.
Where: Chocolate Factory is located 5 Km from Perugia Train Station , stop: San Sisto.
How to get there: By bus, line A
When – Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am / 1:00 – 2:00 pm / 5.30 Saturday 10:00 am / 4:00 pm (saturday closed during January, February, June, September)
Tickets: Full € 9, reduced € 7 (13 to 17 years, groups of 10 people upwards, helper for the disable people and people over 65).
Reduced 4 € from 6 to 12 years.
Free until to 5 years old and disable people.
School groups: 0-5 years free, primary and secondary € 3, € 5 high schools
Volumni Hypogeum in Perugia
Just outside the historical centre of Perugia, in Ponte San Giovanni area, there is an extraordinary place: it’s the Volumni Hypogeum, the oldest and most preserved funerary monument of Etruscan era.
The tomb of the III century. BC, discovered in 1840, is part of the big necropolis, known as the “Palazzone”. It’s a necropolis with more than 200 tombs but only one side can be visited. The Hypogeum takes its name from the Volumni family, a rich and noble Etruscan family, of which it contains the remains. The beauty of the building is that it looks like an Etruscan-Roman period house and consists of a atrium and seven rooms.
Where: Via Assisna, 53 – Ponte S. Giovanni – Phone number 07 5393329
How to get there: By bus, line 4, 92, 93, then by feet or taxi
When – Hours: September – June 9 am – 6.30 pm / July – August 9 am – 7 pm
Tickets: € 3
Things to eat in Perugia
Perugia’s cuisine is linked to the traditional Umbrian one, and is simple, genuine and tasty. Hams, salami, cheeses and meats are the real stars of the tables.
Among the traditional dishes, you can taste the “Guinea fowl in dripping pan” (topped with a sauce made of chicken livers, herbs and white wine), the “torta al testo” (a cake of flour, water and olive oil) and many recipes whose main flavor is the truffle. Another specialty is the humpbacks parmigiana: a dish made of thistles, mozzarella, beef and parmesan sauce. You can taste also sea flavors: the tegamaccio (a flavored fish soup) is one of the most famous dishes of fish but also crabs, trout, pike and carp cooked with tasty recipes. The desserts: pinoccate, made with pine nuts, and the winepress, a donut with raisins and candied fruit, are the most famous.
Where to sleep in Perugia
Perugia is a touristic city with business people, many students and professors. There are, then, hotels, apartments, hostels and B&Bs and agritourism in the surrounding areas.
In some periods it could be difficult to find a place at a good price, so it’s better to move from the old town center the suburbs, perfectly connected to the centre by bus and towns escalators.
At events such as the Umbria Jazz or Eurochocolate, there are many tourists; so if your vacation will be during these periods, we suggest you to book some time before. The prices of a 3 star hotel in the center start from 70 Euros per night, breakfast included. In the agritourisms you can save money with prices starting at 50 Euros per night.