Perugia in 1 day

Perugia is a little treasure that gradually discloses its beauty to the eyes of tourists. While still retaining its peculiar medieval appeal, Perugia is an extremely lively city, thanks to the presence of two of the most important and ancient Italian universities: the University of Perugia (founded in 1308) and the University for Foreigners. Our itinerary starts from the main square Piazza IV Novembre, the cultural, administrative and urban centre of the city, which lies on the same place where once used to be the ancient Etruscan town and Roman forum. Right in the middle of the square stands the Fontana Maggiore, one of the most important fountains in Italy, built between 1275 and 1278 and sculpted by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano and now the main symbol of the medieval city. The cathedral of S. Lorenzo overlooks the square. This church clearly shows a particular architectural layering caused by the various building phases, which lasted from the 10th up to the 16th century. At the junction between Piazza IV Novembre and Corso Vannucci rises the majestic Palazzo dei Priori, house of the city council, which was the administrative, judicial and political centre during the Middle Ages. Going up the iconic fan-shaped stairway opening on the main square, you will access the Sala dei Notari, a spectacular hall decorated with frescoes dating back to the 14th century. Descending now on to the main street Corso Vannucci you will find the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, the national museum of Umbria, which houses a number of masterpieces by Pinturicchio, Perugino, Pietro da Cortona and Piero della Francesca, dating from the 13th to the 17th century. The stroll along Corso Vannucci ends in the Giardini Carducci, a small yet cosy park where you can take a downward escalator leading you inside the Rocca Paolina, a Renaissance fortress built on the medieval Baglioni quarter. Praised by Giosuè Carducci, Rocca Paolina was built following the order of Pope Paul III, who wanted to seal the papal supremacy on the city of Perugia. At the opposite end of Corso Vannucci, just behind Piazza IV Novembre, you will find the Pozzo Etrusco, an Etruscan well built between the 4th and the 3rd century b.C. This ancient well goes 37 m deep with a diameter of 5 m and back in the days served as a water reservoir. Other interesting buildings in the upper quarters of the city centre are the Oratory of St Bernardino, located next to the Basilica of San Francesco al Prato in Piazza San Francesco. Not far from there, the Morlacchi Theatre overlooks Piazza Morlacchi. This theatre was built approximately in 1780 by the local middle class in response to the Pavone Theatre, reserved for the aristocracy. Moving towards the northern quarters of the city centre you will arrive to the Etruscan Arch, a magnificent arch erected in the 3rd century b.C. Its majestic appearance denotes the relevance of this structure in the ancient city planning – it was in fact the main entrance in the Etruscan walls, which gave access to the outer roads heading north. Once passed through the Etruscan arch you will reach Corso Garibaldi. At the end of this charming street, you will eventually arrive to Porta Sant’Angelo, the furthest border of the medieval town of Perugia. Next to it, the wonderful Temple of San Michele Arcangelo, now a church, is definitely worth a visit. Outside the medieval walls of Perugia you can also visit the church of San Domenico, built between 1398 and 1458 by Giovanni Pisano, and the National Museum of Umbrian Archeology. Chocoholics cannot miss a tour of the Perugina Chocolate House, which will take you on a visit to the museum of Perugina and its story of passion for the art of chocolate. The journey continues with a deliciously rich chocolate tasting and ends with a tour of the chocolate factory and the Perugina School of Chocolate, where you will have the chance to create yummy masterpieces.