Perugia - The Centre of Italy
As you might have already seen on Instagram, in February, I spent a week in Perugia. For me, this city will always hold a special place in my heart, as I lived there for nearly half a year in 2018. Even though, I didn’t know anything beforehand about this city, it turned out to be the best decision ever to go there and I will now tell you exactly why.
When deciding to go abroad for my studies, about a year before I did so, I had various cities to choose from. I knew I wanted to go to Italy to improve my Italian and I knew I didn’t want to go too far south, as then it could’ve gotten a bit difficult with all the dialects (and daily talking wouldn’t be of so much value language-wise). Pretty soon, it became clear that I had to choose between Rome and Perugia. It seemed like a very hard decision: on the one hand the exciting Italian capital, on the other a medium sized city in the middle of the country. But I chose Perugia and haven’t regretted it ever since.
What made the city so attractive for me is first of all its location. As you might have noticed, I love to get to know new places and explore, and for that, Perugia is ideally placed. By car, you get to the Adriatic Sea in about 2 hours, to the Tyrrhenian Sea in 2 hours, it’s about one and a half hours to Florence and about 2 hours to Rome. Also, travelling by train is pretty cheap in Italy, that’s why I opted to do so every time I went to Rome. Also, there are many cute little cities close by, such as Assisi (the birthplace of St. Francis), Siena and many, many more. Don’t worry, I’ll talk about all the places I went to in future blogposts coming your way very soon. The only disadvantage is, that during summer, it gets incredible hot in the city as you are far away from the sea, however, the Lake Trasimeno works pretty well for a little refreshment.
But now on to the city. The city has a similar size to Innsbruck and the city centre is easily explored by foot. In fact, in the old town there is a pedestrian area. The most important place of the city is Piazza IV Novembre. Here you are in the heart of the city and right in the middle of historical buildings, restaurants and little shops. The Piazza is surrounded by the Cathedral and the National Gallery, and in the middle, you find the Fontana Maggiore (the central fountain). From the Piazza you simply walk along the Corso Vanucci, the street that brings you from there to Piazza Italia. If you make it past the bars and restaurants without even stopping for an aperitivo, I am truly impressed.
Right after passing Piazza Italia, you will find yourself admiring a stunning view over the city, the surrounding hills and the beautiful landscape of Umbria. On sunny days, lots of locals stop by to enjoy some sun there. The tower you will find on every picture taken from that viewpoint is part of the San Domenico, a church.
As you might have noticed on the pictures, Perugia is not a flat city. Everywhere you go, you have to climb stairs, that’s just how this Italian region is. To make that easier, the city offers, besides busses, not only a so-called ‘Minimetro’ – which is exactly like you imagine it from hearing the name, a subway but way smaller – but also escalators that connect the “upper” part of the city, with the “lower” parts. The escalators are free of charge and the Minimetro charges 1.50€ per journey. When returning in February, I took the Minimetro quite frequently, but if you are new to the city I definitely recommend you walk by foot as much as possible, as every little street is just so cute and offers you a unique view of the city.
If there is one ‘place to be’ in Perugia, it is clearly Menchetti. Whatever you want to do, you should always come to Menchetti. You want to have breakfast? You want to eat lunch? You want to eat ice cream, have an aperitivo, eat dinner, meet with your friends before going out? This is the place where every good day or night starts. Oh, and don’t get me started on their smoothies and fruity refreshments! I might have been there more than once a day quite a few times.
Other important places of the city are the ‘Università per stranieri di Perugia’, a so-called foreigners University with lots of international students, which you can see on the title picture of this blogpost, the Etruscan arch right next to it and, of course, the Perugina factory.
This is where the famous Baci Perugina are produced, in fact, every Baci you can eat world-wide is produced in this single factory in the Umbrian capital. Since Perugina is part of the Nestle imperium, also other sweets, such as KitKat are produced here. I made a tour through the factory this year and I’d say it was really worth the money. You hear a lot about the history of the company, how the production has evolved, about the most important people of the company, such as Luisa Spagnoli (you might know her from the clothing brand) and even get to see a replica of the world’s largest Baci that has ever been produced (and of course, eaten). The most interesting part of the tour was surely the walk through the factory where you could see the production process. Unfortunately, it was forbidden to take pictures there for privacy reasons, regarding the production process as well as the employee’s privacy.
Perugia is a city full of young people and lots of international students. It offers various events that take place there regularly, such as the Eurochocolate (in October), which is, as the name suggest, a festival that is focussed on chocolate. Another cool festival, which I came to attend, is the UmbriaJazz, Europe’s biggest jazz festival. You don’t have to be a huge jazz fan to enjoy this event as it is quite fun seeing the city packed with people and music and parties are going on everywhere you look. I am really glad I was able to see this.
Describing, why I love this city so much, is probably like describing your boyfriend to others - they may find him pretty or lovely, but only when seeing him through your eyes, they will truly understand your love. You need to get to know the city as I did, with all its different corners, different people and struggles, to really understand why it deserves a place in your heart. During my 5 months in Italy I visited so many beautiful places and even made a little road trip through the Southern part of the country and so I can’t wait to tell you more about the country I’ve been visiting since I was a little child. I never knew this country could make me fall in love with it once more, but it surely did!