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Perugia

WINE TASTING
A carriage ride in the vineyards

A fantastic tour through the vineyards on a horse-drawn carriage, with a final tasting

38€ 32€ Per person
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WINE TASTING
A delicious picnic in the vineyard

Let yourself be enticed by wine and the beauty of Mother Nature in the rolling hills of Montefalco, choose this picnic in the vineyard

80€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
A tough route from the Tiber Valley to Lake Trasimeno

Test your true grit on the hills that border Lake Trasimeno

from 80€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Age-old villages between Todi and the Martani mountain range

A route through the Martani mountains, on the trail of hamlets and villages

from 60€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED MTB TOUR
Along the river Clitunno

From Trevi towards the river deemed sacred by the Romans

from 75€ Per person
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WELLNESS AND BEAUTY TREATMENT
Beauty therapy with wine in Umbria

Treat yourself to some deep relaxation and indulge in some well-deserved pampering with this beauty therapy with wine in Umbria.

65€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Bevagna – Montefalco, passing through Spello and Santamaria degli Angeli

Explore the central hills of the Umbrian valley by bike, cycling up some of them to discover the mysteries they hide

from 90€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Bevagna, Spello and Santa Maria degli Angeli

The shortest version of its twin tour, but with the same exhilaration guaranteed

from 75€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Bike trail in Umbria, from Trevi to Giano, via Montefalco

Cycling down in this bike trail in the Umbria valley, then up to Giano with some hard-core pedal power

from 90€ Per person
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PRIVATE GUIDED MTB TOUR
Biking on the Plains of Bevagna

Biking around Bevagna, on the Umbrian countryside, immense beauty and very little effort

from 75€ Per person
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EDUCATIONAL WALK
Birdwatching in Umbria, on the shores of Lake Trasimeno

Discover birdwatching in Umbria by visiting the natural oasis on Lake Trasimeno.

from 42€ Per person
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ADVENTURE
Cable Wakeboarding in Perugia

Adrenalin-pumped excitement, for an unforgettable day with the cable wakeboarding in Perugia

25€ Per person
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What to see and what to do in Perugia

Perugia, with a population of 165,000, is the regional capital of Umbria. Its strategic position –  Perugia is situated in the middle of the region below the Apennines and above the valley of Tevere – make it a crossroads for people and goods in Central Italy.

Perugia is internationally renowned for its chocolate production and for the famous Umbria Jazz Festival, it is also home to a very noted and celebrated university that attracts over 25,000 students every year.

The city extends on the top of a hill, 493 metres (1,617 feet) above sea level, sitting in-between and overlooking the Tiberina and Umbra valley.

Regardless of which side you are are coming from, Perugia is going to look like it is gently resting on the hill, very respectful of the surrounding environment, but with the awareness and solemnity of an entity that has always been there.

The the use of the word “always” is often overindulged when talking about a city that almost has eternal traits. Far from being so presumptuous, but surely its origins can be traced back to immemorial times, up to one of the first peoples who ever inhabited the Italian peninsula.

Both, the Etruscans and Umbrians have indiscriminately left their mark on the genesis of the city, characterising its urban aspects as well as its economy, placing it at the forefront of the relations between the two peoples.

During the Roman period Perugia alternated times of splendour with phases of overwhelming misery, mainly due to various territorial disputes, even within the Empire itself. The battle between Marcus Antonius and Octavius, for example, when Perugia was destroyed and immediately after rebuilt and re-qualified by Octavious himself.

A succession of rules and dominations of different kinds will affect the city, until it finally becomes a Papal State. This will not be an improvement in terms of stability, especially due to Popes eager to impose their power along with certain families who would try to impose theirs or, finally, the menace of warlords from neighbouring Realms who constantly besieged the city trying to annex it to their territories. A tumultuous history marked by pitiful destructions and glorious reconstructions. An alternation that contributed to rendering Perugia one of the most multifaceted and beautiful cities in Italy. You won’t easily forget its Renaissance Palaces and the plentiful Etruscan and Roman landmarks.

Discover Perugia

A simple stroll in the city centre, immersed in the narrow and asymmetrical alleys weaving the intricate web of Perugia’s down-town, will be an instant delight. Take Corso Vannucci, starting from Fontana Maggiore in Piazza IV Novembre and go through Piazza della Repubblica up to Piazza Italia to enjoy a view of the Umbrian Valley from Giardini Carducci.

The maze of streets that unravel from Corso Vanucci echoes the original Etruscan network and develop in a magnificent intersection of small passages, bottlenecks in-between old palaces, majestic arches, and bright pastel colours shimmering with the light. The Medieval Aqueduct with its broad stairway is a breathtaking glimpse, enhanced by the numerous decorations and colourful buildings in the background.

Whether your decide to wander around or meticulously go through the various points of interest, you are going to be blessed by art and culture everywhere you go. Many are the Etruscan remains, from the Etruscan Well to the Etruscan Arch, located in the original city wall and restored during the Roman Period (by Emperor Octavius Augustus, thus later going by the name of Arch of Augustus).

In Piazza IV Novembre, besides the famous Fontana Maggiore, you can visit the San Lorenzo Cathedral and, right in front of it, Palazzo dei Priori visible from the entrance of Sala dei Notari. The Palace is home to the National Gallery of Umbria, or Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, where you will be able to admire a plethora of Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces.

Right at the end of the main avenue, going towards Corso Cavour, you will find the marvellous St. Peter’s Basilica sitting in front of the gardens of Frontone. A must-see for any visitor. Coming downhill, before Piazza Italia, towards Piazza Partigiani, one can literally cross the Rocca Paolina, which can be visited and is still in pristine conditions, including many of the original spaces.

The numerous palaces erected by various aristocratic families between the XV and the XIX Century are visible – and often can be visited – from inside and outside the city walls. A special mention shall be made for the Palazzo Antinori-Gallenga Stuart, now housing the University for Foreigners of Perugia, located in Piazza Fortebraccio just outside the old city walls is a remarkable example of Baroque Style, as well as Palazzo della Penna or Palazzo Sorbello, respectively homes to the Civic Museum and Sorbello Museum.

In Piazza IV Novembre, in the heart of Perugia, sits one of the most beautiful and elegant palaces of the Medieval Commune period. It is Palazzo dei Priori (Palace of the Priors), one of the most important and significant monuments of Perugia.

It was built in 1293-97, but it underwent a series of changes until 15000. It is located in the city centre, now as it was then the crux of the political and social life of the community. It was built to provide an appropriate seat to the Magistrature Body, but especially because Perugia was at the peak of its expansion and wanted to celebrate its achievements and great communal ambitions.

The building overlooks Piazza IV Novembre on one side and Corso Vanucci on the other. It is about 120 metres (390 feet) long, 28 metres (90 feet) wide, and 30 metres (98 feet) tall. It is made of white travertine of Assisi and Bettona white and pink stone. The structure we see today is the result of various enlargement projects carried out in three different periods.

The project is designed in Gothic style, the first intervention – between 1333 and 1353 – was carried out near the Church of San Severo, with the construction of the three arches on the right of the facade in front of the fountain. The second intervention was made on the side that overlooks Corso Vanucci – between 1429 and 1443 – with the extension of the arch above Via dei Priori. The third and last is still on the side on Corso Vanucci towards Piazza della Repubblica, designed by the Perugian architect Alessi.

The entrance at the end of the staircase on Piazza IV Novembre leads to Sala dei Notari (Room of the Notaries). Above the door, a griffon and a lion dominate the whole square (the originals are currently kept at the National Gallery of Umbria). On the side on Corso Vanucci, the extension works match seamlessly the beauty of the original features. A wonderful series of three-light windows on the first floor recall the style of the ones on the facade. The three Patron Saints of Perugia are majestically carved on the main door: Saint Ercolano, Saint Costanzo and Saint Lawrence. The portal was built in 1346 and is the work of great mastery, with several whittled decorations depicting various scenes of city life.

All the upper perimeter of the palace is decorated with merlons, which are typical of communal architecture and for this reason were removed by the State of the Church when Perugia was under its rule. They were restored after the unification of Italy.

Today Palazzo dei Priori houses the seat of the Municipality of Perugia and the National Gallery of Umbria. The following rooms are also open to the public:  Sala dei Notari, Sala del Consiglio, sala del Nobile collegio del Cambio, Sala del Nobile Collegio della Mercanzia and the chapel of the priors.

PIAZZA IV NOVEMBRE

Fontata Maggiore is located in the middle of Piazza IV Novembre, which is in Perugia’s City Centre. The square has been the crux of many institutional functions and epicentre of city life throughout all its history. It sits between the Perugia Cathedralwhere the Episcopal Seat was transferred during the X Centuryand Palazzo dei Priori, whose Sala Dei Notari (Room of the Notaries) has been the institutional centre of the city since its communal years in the Middle Ages.

FONTANTA MAGGIORE

In the middle of Piazza IV Novembre sits one of the most emblematic monuments of Perugia: Fontana Maggiore.

The fountain was built between 1254 and 1278, and it is one of the finest specimens of Medieval Commune Art. Sculpted by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, who were father and son, with the help of Frà Bevignate and Boninsegna Veneziano, who was in charge of the hydraulic system, the fountain is composed of two polygonal and concentric marble basins and a bronze bowl. The decorations depict the political and cultural structure of Perugia, celebrating the founding of the city and its role in the region.

The lower basin has a total of 24 sides divided by sections of three columns. Two bas-relief per side represent different contexts and situations. It starts with 12 representations of professions of events for each month of the year. January, for example, is symbolised with two figures, one male and one female, warming by the fire. February is represented by a fish, may by falcon hunting and so on up to December showing the slaughtering of the pig. The months of the year are intervalled by astrological signs and other symbols such as the lion, the Perugian griffon, the seven liberal arts (Grammar, Dialecetics, Astronomy, Music, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry) and Philosophy. And again: two eagles, Adam and Eve, stories of David and Goliath, Romolus and Remus and two fables of Aesop (the Wolf and the Lamb, the Wolf and the Crane).

The upper basin has smooth sides, with a single exception, an inscription found during the restoration works of 1322. On each of the 24 corners of the basin there is a statue by Giovanni Pisano. These sculptures represent influential figures in history and of Perugia’s everyday life. They are: Saint Peter, the Roman Church, Rome, Theology, Cleric of Saint Lawrence, Saint Lawrence, Ninfa del territorio Chiusino, Perugia, Ninfa del Trasimeno, Sant’Ercolano, the Traitor Cleric, Saint Benedict, San Mauro, The Baptist, Salomone, David, Salomè, Moses, Matteo da Correggio, the Archangel Micheal, Euliste (founder of Perugia), Melchisedec, Ermanno da Sassoferrato, the Victory.

When visiting the Rocca Paolina, or what is left of it, one cannot but notice the impotence of the building and the strategic value it may have had in the past.

To this day we can appreciate the grandeur of the building, simply by visiting its interior thanks to a system of staircases and escalators built in the 1980’s.

Rocca Paolina was built in a rush between 1540 and 1543. The reason why Pope Paul III wanted it was not to protect the city from external forays, but to display the strength and power of a Pope who wanted to impose his rule upon the local lords, especially the Baglioni family, whose increasing degree of autonomy he did not appreciate. By building the Rocca he gave them a strong signal that the papal power was going to be defended at all costs, also from the very citizens if necessary.  Indeed, a popular uprising had just sparked against a recent tax increase (including the infamous duty on salt) imposed by the State of the Church.

The project was commissioned to Antonio di Sangallo. In his first drawings (kept in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence) the fortress was seamlessly embedded in the city without affecting its architectural balance. Unfortunately, such design was completely disregarded by Paolo III who, in order to show his muscles to the Baglioni, occupied part of their estate and also had a defensive trench dug all around the perimeter of the Rocca, causing great distress to the architecture of the city.

The fortress was erected on a strategical point that overlooked the whole city. The building is rather asymmetric – both for defensive and structural needs – and looks like the outline of a scorpion. From the two bastions in the corners, that open on Piazza Italia, the Rocca developed downhill creating a long corridor to the so-called “Claw”. This extension would facilitate, in case of siege, provision of supplies and escape towards the countryside.

As mentioned, once the construction works had been terminated, moats were dug all around the perimeter to make the building even more threatening and foreboding. These, together with other changes wanted by Pope Paul III with respect to the original project had a devastating impact on urban fabric of the surroundings. Several buildings and even entire villages were destroyed to make room for this endeavour (the village of Santa Giuliana, for instance). A total of 27 towers, 11 churches, 2 monasteries, a portion of the old Etruscan wall and about 300 houses – many of which owned by the Baglioni family – were demolished.

There following events never justified the construction of Rocca Paolina , but various sources report how it was integrated in various aspects of the city life.    There were also attempts to find new uses and purposes for it, but in fact a structural change was inevitable: it was partly demolished and its moats were filled. The demolition occurs in three phases: in 1798 by the French, 1848, and the decade of 1860 with the Unification of Italy. The reasons are many. Generally speaking it was regarded as an outdated structure that did not serve any real defensive purpose and obstructed the access to the city. Later, government institutions tried to improve their reputation with renovation works that would also create new jobs. All we have left today are the south-west buttress, the cellars and four cannons.

The structure is still used for exhibitions and shows. There also also some contemporary sculptures inside.

The Etruscan Well, or Pozzo Sorbello, is one of the major Etruscan water supply projects known until now. Also stated by professor Filippo Magi of the University of Perugia, who in 1966 led an immersion expedition for in-depth examination of the well. It was also thanks to Marquis Uguccione – who at the time owned Palazzo Sorbello (under which the Etruscan well is located) that the university was able to access the well for their analysis.

After the first immersion, being understood the importance of such work, two more followed. In 1980 the Sorbello family opened the well to the public, encouraging the visit and creating great interest around it. This move played a key role in increasing touristic arrivals in Perugia.

The Well is located in the basement of Palazzo Sorbello, hence its other name: Pozzo Sorbello. It is near Porta Sole, coming from Corso Venucci through Piazza IV Novembre and passing the Duomo on you left, you can find it by keeping on the right side of the road.

The well was built on the highest spot of the city, 477 metres (1500 feet) above sea level, dug on land of fluvial-lacustrine origin. It has a capacity of 424 cubic metres (112,000 gallons) and it was built during the second half of the III Century Before Christ to meet the water needs of the city, which had several wells around its whole perimeter (the Pozzo di San Paolo in Todi is very similar).

Besides its architectonic value, another key aspect is its size, reaching 37 metres (121 feet) in depth.

The building materials are typical of Etruscan Architecture, the upper part of the well is made of travertine extracted from the nearby district of Ellera. These materials were essential to determine the origin of the well, since they were similar to the ones used to build the city wall.

Another element that contributed to its relevance and fame, is the upper covering of the well. Built with travertine diagonal slabs supported by stone trusses which are completely dry-fitted, that means that no mortar or amalgam of any kind was used. These trusses form two roofs weighing about 8 tonnes each. It is believed that the covering was built using scaffoldings lowering the various stone and travertine blocks from above.

The well underwent several modifications and structural interventions throughout the centuries.  Initially the opening was centred with the shaft, the current one (vèra) was built during the Middle Ages. The original vèra was probably square.

Initially the water was collected simply by a bucket on a rope, later a pulley system was employed.

The well has always been used during the centuries, until shortly before it was “rediscovered” as in important archaeological element.

Today it is manage by the Ranieri Foundation of Sorbello to whom it was donated by the owners of the building.

The Hypogeum of the Volumnus Family is one of the most famous and significant Etruscan tombs ever found. It dates back to a period comprised between the III and II Century B.C. It is located in the Perugian district of Ponte San Giovanni, just outside the city, and is part of the archaeological site of Palazzone which includes about 200 Etruscan tombs.

The tomb was found in 1840, while carrying-out excavation works for a new road. The importance of such discovery was immediately clear and attracted several national and international visitors.

The tomb belonged to the Volumnus Familiy, and it seems that it had been used until the First Century B.C. It can be reached with a staircase called dromos, terminating in a stone door with inscriptions that provide information about the facility and its construction. The tomb is composed of 10 rooms. The first one is the tablinium, there are seven urns, six Etruscan and one Roman. In the middle we find the most important one, belonging to the forefather of the Arnth Velimna Aules family (Arunte Volumnio), a majestic travertine artefact with a statue depicting the man in a semi-recumbent posture. On his sides, two winged demons (lase) guard the entrance to the Haeds. On the right there are four more urns, belonging to the grandfather, father, and brothers, portraying the deceased and the head of Medusa.

At Arnth‘s left sits his daughter Veilia adorned with various jewels Next to it the urn of Publio Volumnio, depicting a heavenly garden. The latter is the only Roman one.

The tomb is constituted of 10 rooms, a clear sign of the original intention of making it the family sepulchre for generations to come. Unfortunately future historical and political circumstances would not allow it.

The roof of the tomb echoes geometries typical of aristocratic residencies and there are funeral decorations and depictions of war clothes.

Right in front of the main entrance sits a collection of urns found in the necropolis, in other tombs belonging to other families. Almost all of them are made of Perugian travertine. It seems that they were all painted with various scenes: some with the griffon, others with representations of Greek mythology.

In the rest of the necropolis there are smaller but equally beautiful tombs.

The National Gallery of Umbria (Italian: Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria) boasts one of the largest and most important museum collections in Italy.

Housed in the Palazzo dei Priori, it features a repertoire of artworks ranging from the XIII to the XIX Centuries.

The Gallery begins with the Academy of the Arts of Drawing established in the XVI Century and gained prominence between the end of the XVII century and the beginning og the XIX, thanks to the Napoleonic Empire first and the Kingdom of Italy later.

In 1863 a pubblic art gallery that could house all those works that, until then, were scatter around the region. The gallery is named after Pietro Vannucci, also known as Il Perugino.

In 1918 the art gallery is nationalised and renamed “Pietro Vannucci Royal Gallery”. Since then the collection kept growing and became one of the most prominent of Italy.

The numerous renovation works that many rooms of Palazzo Priori had to undergo, meant that the Gallery had to change several locations throughout the years.

Since 2006 the museum the museum has been arranged on two floors of Palazzo dei Priori, occupying 4000 square metres in total. The collection is currently organised in chronological order and by school, it includes artists such as: Gentile Da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Arnolfo di Cambio, Piero della Francesca. It also focuses on artist born in the region like Bartolomeo Caporali, Benedetto Bonfigli, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, Pietro Vannucci detto Il Perugino, Bernardino di Betto also known as Pinturicchio and their disciples.

THE XII CENTURY

One of the most signifcant sculptures of the time, on display in the gallery, is the Cristo Deposto (Dead Christ) 1236, as a part of a series of figures depicting the deposition of Christ. There are also five Carrara marble sculptures by Arnolfo di Cambio, realised between 1278 amd 1281, which were apparently destined to a fountain on the main city street, known today as Corso Vannucci. The same area also includes the two tiles, sculpted by the Pisano borthers, they were part of Fontana Maggiore and depict Rome and the Capitoline Wolf.

The most representative painter of the XIII Century undubitably is the Master of Saint Francis(whose first works were in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, hence the name). The Umbrian National Gallery features three of the anonymous painter’s works: La Grande Croce of 1272, La Croce a due Facce, of the same year, and the Paliotto, 1262. Other notable works in the same are are: the Dossale del Maestro di Farneto , 1290 and Dossale di Vigoroso da Siena, 1291.

THE XIV CENTURY

This century begins with Madonna with Child,  1304, by Duccio di Buoninsegna. Other notable works include two-faced panels with Saint Paul – Saint Laurence e Saint Peter and Saint Ercolano, the latter is depicted as he is holding up the city of Perugia. Giotto’s followers include Marino from Perugia, with his Madonna with Child and Saints, 1317, Puccio Capanna and Giovanni di Bonino, respectively with Madonnaon the Throne with Child and Crucifixion, circa 1340, and glass wall with Crucifixion,  circa 1345.

The second half of this century s also characterised by a stron presence of the Senese School, which ha its own section in the museum with works like: the Forsivo Altarpiece by Luca Tommé, 1370, Madonna with Child and Saints by Bartolo di Fredi and little crucifixion by Nicolò di Buonaccorso.

THE XV CENTURY

There is also a part dedicated to the influence of international Gothic with the Pietralunga Altairpiece by Ottaviano Nelli, 1404, the Madonna with Child and Angels, also 1404, by Gentile da Fabriano, Crucifixion Fresco, by Jacopo Salimbeni, circa 1420.

Representing the third and fourth decade and the continous mutations in Reinassance tendencies: Madonna with Child and Saints, 1439, by Pietro di Nicola Baroni and the Santa Giuliana Altairpiece, 1438, by Domenico di Bartolo.

Also the Florentine School is genereously represented, for example with the S. Domenico Altairpiece, 1447, by Beato Angelico, which was inspiration to many other painters, including Benozzo Gozzoli, con with the Pala della Sapienza Nuova,  1456. Another one is the Saint Anthony Altiaripiece painted between 1455 and 1468 by Piero della Francesca.

PERUGIAN REINASSANCE

Reinassance in perugia could safely be defined a “school”.  There are many figures who contributed to this distinctive current and many of their works can be found in the National Gallery of Umbria:

Bonfigli Benedetto is the first Reinassance Perugian painter, his works include Madonna col Bambino e angeli musicanti, 1450, Annunciazione and S. Lucia, 1450-53, the Gonfalone di S. Bernardino, 1464, as well as the series of frescoes Storie di S.Ludovico da Tolosa.

Bartolomeo Caporali with Madonna col bambino e angeli, 1465, the Trittico della Confraternita della Giustizia, 1475, and Adorazione dei Pastori, 1478-79.

Fiorenzo Di Lorenzo with: S.Sebastiano, 1475-79, La Nicchia di S. Francesco al Prato, 1487, the Polittico dei Silvestrini, 1493

Perugino is definietly one of hosehold names of Umbrian painting. Pietro Vannucci started his training in Perugia and then studied in Florence, first with Piero della Francesca and then with Verrocchio. After working extensively in Perugia, including some pieces at Palazzo dei Priori, he became rather well-known and was hired by the Pope for some works, also at the Sistine Chapel (Delivery of the Keys, 1481) and, by the end of the XV Century, was probably the most influential Italian painter. Many of his works are kept in the Gallery, notably:  Saint Bernardino Curing a Young Girl , 1473 (first of a series of eight tempera-on-panel paintings showing miracles associated with Bernardino of Siena), Madonna della Consolazione, 1496-98, Lamentation over the Dead Christ , 1495, Tezi Altarpiece, 1500, Gonfalon of Justice , 1501, and Sant’Agostino Altarpiece.

Pinturicchio: Born in Perugia in 1454, he died in Sien in 1513. He was influenced by many Perugian Master, especially Bartolomeo Caporali. He was also a disciple and collaborator of Perugino, whom he helped with many famous works, including the Saint Bernardino series and paintings in the Sistine Chapel. He often worked in Rome, also for the Pope, where he became famous for the elegance of his decorations and unquestionable talent. In the gallery you can admire the Santa Maria dei Fossi Altarpiece, 1495-96, one of the most representative pieces of the Perugian School. The mastery and attention to detail of this work are just extraordinary.

XIV CENTURY

There are also various pieces from this period, created mainly by artists from outside of Perugia, also thanks to the renewed power of the Church which commissioned many works. An example is Stories of Braccio Fortebraccio da Montone, painted by Lattanzio Pagani and Tommaso Bernabei in 1545-48. Local painters include Orazio Alfani and his Sacred Family and The Rest in the Flight intto Egypt, circa 1560. Another notable painting is the Nativity of the Virgin dated 1561 and executed by Dono Doni. There are also flamish painters including Hendrick van den Broeck with the Adoration of the Magi, 1563, and the Crucifixion, 1565.

Other important works comprise the Holy Family with the Baptist, 1573, painted by Raffaellino del Colle and the lAdoration of the Shepherds by Marcello Venusti.

XVII AND XVIII CENTURY

The main exponent of the XVII Century in the gallery is Ventura Salimbeni,with the Virgin with Baby and S. Giovvannino , 1606-1608. Then Orazio Gentileschi, with Saint Cecilia Plays the Spinet and Angel, 1615, and Valentin de Boulogne, with Samaritan Woman at the Well, 1622, both Caravaggisti.

Also the XVIII Century is well represented. The Vision of Saint Bernard, painted by Giovanni Odazzi in 1720 is one of the most notable pieces. There are also works which had come from rome, such as Mary Magdalene’s Holy Communion, Francesco Mancini 1732, Mary Magdalene’s Holy Communion, Sebastiano Conca 1738, and Saint Ambrogio Absolves Emperor Theodosius, Pierre Subleyras 1745.

Finally, the National Gallery of Umbria features numerous collections, inlcuding a large one of Perugian Tablecloths, which belonged to various private collectors before being purchased by the State. The are also exhibits of gold artifacts – mainly coming from Perugian City Muesums – collected from 1863. Unfortuantely the origins of most items were never listed, so they remain unknown to this day.

Other collections come from the sacristy of the chirch of  S. Domenico, itemised in the XV century as a testimony of local craftmasnhip.

The National Archaeological Museum of Umbria – Museo Nazionale dell’Umbria or M.A.N.U. – is located in the S. Domenico complex, formerly a military building under Napoleonic domination it was nationalised with the unification of Italy, it became a museum in 1948

The museum was founded to collect all the heritage of the various civic museums of the province – including some private collections – under the same roof. To this day it houses one of the richest selections of Roman and Etruscan archaeological finds.

The current layout dates back to 2009 and is arranged in chronological order from prehistory to the Roman period. The itinerary is interspersed with thematic or contextual rooms, such as the reconstruction of the Cai Cutu Tomb in an underground room located in the cloister. The tomb was found intact in 1983 and it contained about fifty urns in typical Perugian style, plus a sandstone sarcophagus that contained the remains of an interred body (inhumation was a common practice in the archaic era, replaced with cineration during the Hellenistic period). All urns are inscribed with the name of the deceased and all belong to the same family: the Cai Cutu.

Along the walls of the cloister are displayed various items found in some Perugian Necropoleis as well as some other pieces from the Roman period and epigraphs that illustrate the rebirth of Perugia (Perusia Restituta) after Octavius‘ intervention following the battle with Lucius Antonius.

In a room near the staircase there are some Roman sculptures, including a Marble Telemon probably dating back to the Roman Empire.

Upstairs, one can notice the various travertine urns dated between the III and the I Century B.C., depicting some scenes of Greek culture, also found in the Perugian Necropoleis. Also on the same floor, the other exhibition dedicate to the Cacni Tomb (III-II Century B.C.). Found in 2003 by the Roman Heritage Protection Unit of the police in Elce, along the ancient road that connected Perugia with Cortona and Chiusi. The tomb contained the sarcophagus, the urns, and the grave goods. The urns are made of travertine in the typical style of Perugian Necropoleis of the time. There are numerous decorations on them, especially concerning Greek Mythology.

Still on the same floor are also displayed numismatic collections and amulets (from the Bellucci’s private collection)

The itinerary of the National Archaeological Museum of Umbria begins with a prehistorical section which – thanks to interactive supports, including several images – retraces the origin of mankind until the disappearance of the Homo sapiens. The itinerary proceeds in chronological order to the areas dedicated to the Umbrians and the Etruscans, which are divided in two separate wings that compare the two civilisations and show the similarities between them.

Then there is a section dedicated to Perugian Necropoleis with invaluable pieces, such as the Sperandio Sarcophagus. The itinerary goes on in the adjacent corridor that reconstructs the story of Perugia from the Villanovan Period up to the Roman Period.

Finally there is a room dedicated to the famous Cippus Perusinus. This was found in 1822 on the hill of San Marco.

The museum, also known as M.A.N.U., is one of the most appreciated touristic/cultural attractions in the whole city which never fails to amaze the visitors.

Corso Cavour. despite being one of the most important avenues of the city centre, still maintains its medieval character. Halfway through it, you will immediately notice the huge facade of the “biggest religious building in Umbria”. The Basilica of San Domenico raises from the almost hidden Piazza Giordano Bruno, embellished by the puteal of a 1442 well.

Just like the rest of the city, the Basilica has a turbulent past. Its first version was built in 1304 in Gothic style next to a small Dominican church erected between 1230 and 1260, in a place that was already very famous back then being very close to the Church of S. Stefano del Castellare, an important meeting place of great political relevance. The building – due to serious structural damage – collapsed in 1614 and had to be almost entirely rebuilt.

A double staircase ends in the majestic facade leading to the main portal, built in 1596. The interior looks quite bare, especially if one considers that this church once boasted very rich decorations, almost all of which have been taken away during the Napoleonic domination or nationalised after the Unification of Italy. But all you need to do is raise your eyes and you will be welcomed by the magnificent painted windows that decorate the apse. The structure is 23 metres (75 feet) high and was painted in 1411 by Bartolomeo di Pietro and Mariotto di Nardo. Together with the Duomo of Milan, this is the biggest cathedral in Italy and one of the tallest in Europe.

The structure is divided in three naves in the classic Latin Cross shape, with the large transept and the majestic presbytery. On the right nave, in the second chapel named after S.Rosa da Lima, we can see canvases painted by Giuseppe Laudati, the second chapel is dedicated to Saint Pius V, while the fourth chapel (a structure dating back to the first construction) is dedicated to Madonna del Voto and was decorated by Agostino Duccio in 1459. On the left cross vault of the transept there are several remains of frescoes in the two chapels and – at the bottom – a statue of Pope Benedict XI who died in Perugia in 1304, by Lorenzo Maitani. The sarcophagus underneath contains the body of the deceased.

In the presbytery we ca see the high altar designed by Pietro Carattoli. Under the beautiful painted glass of the apse, sits the magnificent wooden choir realised by Crispolto da Bettona. On the altar, in the left transept, we see the Pentecost, a painting by Suor Plautilla Nelli of 1554. Above, the large golden organ by Sallustio da Lucignano and Luca Neri da Leonessa, built in 1660. On the left nave, towards the exit, the first chapel is dedicated to Saint Caterina and still has remains of the original frescoes that belonged to the first building, by Benedetto Bindo, 1415. Then, on the right in the fourth chapel, Madonna del Rosario tra i SS. Domenico e Caterina, by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1647,  and the banner above the altar by Giannicola di Paolo, 1494, in the third chapel.

At the bottom of Piazza IV Novembre, a few metres from the fountain and in front of Palazzo dei Priori, sits the majestic Perugia Cathedral dedicated to Saint Lawrence. Halfway through Corso Vanucci on starts seeing the imposing side of the cathedral, dubbed the “city centre’s staircase”.

The current structure is the result of the complete makeover of a former building. The old church dates back to 930 A.D. while the radical renovation was ordered during the XIV Century under the supervision of Friar Bevignate. The works began in 1345 and were completed in 1490.

The cathedral’s entrance does not look onto Piazza IV Novembre, but at Piazza Danti. From Piazza IV one can only see the impressive side of the church whose decorations had never been completed.  Giving your back to Corso Vanucci, on the left you will notice the beautiful “Loggia di Braccio”, requested by Braccio da Montone in 1423, it was initially located in the Palazzo dei Podestà, which was set aflame in 1534. On the right there is a bronze statue of Pope Julius III – sculpted by Vincenzo Danti in 1555 – to whom the Perugian people were very grateful for brining back the magistrature suppressed by Paul III. Then, the magnificent lateral travertine portal, built by Ippolito Scalza and designed by Galeazzo Alessi in 1568. Farther on the right, the so-called “Pulpit of Saint Bernardino” from which the Saint Preached in 1425.

The main facade looking over Piazza Danti, is also unfinished and the only decorative element is the door chiselled by Pietro Carattoli in 1729.

The inside of the church gives an immediate impression of space and light. Architecturally it is blatantly inspired to the “HallenKirchen” of Northern Europe, with the three naves having the same height. The frescoes on the vaults date back to the second half of the XVIII Century and are the work of Pietro Carattoli, Francesco Appiani, Vincenzo Monotti, Marcello Leopardi, Domenico Sergardi, Carlo Spiridione Mariotti.

Inside the church, on each nave including their chapels, there is a vast amount of works of art, paintings, frescoes, wooden benches and marble tables, dating from the fifteen hundreds to the late XIX Century.

Notable works include a canvas painting, in the central nave, depicting the Madonna in Glory with Child and the saints Domenico, Ercolano, Costano, Lorenzo, Agostino and Francis and a glass window portraying the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, by Ludovico Caselli. Next to the main entrance we find the tomb of bishop Giovanni Antonio Baglioni, chiselled by Urbano da Cortona, with an image of the laying priest.

In the right nave there are the chapel of S. Bernardino and the Deposition of the Cross, painted by Federico Barocci in 1567-69. There is also a wooden bench by Jacopo di Antonio Fiorentino and Ercole di Tommaso del Riccio, of 1565-67. Then we have the entrance of the Baptistery Chapel, with a marble panel by Pietro Paolo di Andrea da Como (1479), and a fresco depicting the Baptism of Jesus, by Domenico Bruschi (1876).

In the left nave there is the Altarpiece of Pity: Christ, Madonna, Saint John, the Eternal and the Angels, by Agostino di Duccio (1474). Then a banner by Berto di Giovanni (1526), representing Mary imploring Jesus to make the plague stop.

In the presbytery there are two statues of Saint Lawerence and Saint Ercolano. In the middle, the High Altar by Francesco Caselli that contains a sarcophagus with Saint Ercolano’s relics.

CAPITULAR MUSEUM

Established in 1923 with the help of the art historian Umberto Gnoli who collected and catalogued finds from nearby dioceses.

The outfitting and the exhibition were recently renewed. In 2000, for the Jubilee, the collection was enriched with new pieces and the exhibition expanded, also including an archaeological itinerary with Etruscan and Roman remains from the Acropolis of Perugia.

The art collection enumerates a series of important paintings, including the Pietà by Bartolomeo Caporali (1486), and Madonna tra i ss. Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista by Meo da Siena and, above all, the Pala di S. Onofrio, by Luca Signorelli. Notable sculptures are Testa di Diacono by Arnolfo di Cambio and the altar of pity by Agostino di Duccio.

Maybe the most beautiful and majestic testimony of the ancient Etruscan Civilisation in Perugia is the Etruscan Arch, also known as Arch Augustus (or gate Tezia, Northern gate, gate Pulchra, gate of Via Vecchia and so on). Its origins date back to the III Century B.C., built along the perimeter of the old Etruscan Wall, it was the most important entrance to the city.

It is made of travertine, as most Etruscan buildings, extracted from the cave of Saint Sabina. The cubes were assembled without using any mortar. The arch is placed in the middle of two trapezoidal towers built using the same technique.

It is the most ancient of Perugian gates and it did not undergo many changes throughout the centuries, except for a Renaissance loggia above the left tower and a fountain built in the XVII century, at the feet of the same tower.

The other name the arch goes by, Arch Augustus, originates from an event that saw the emperor Octavious Augustus as protagonist in the year 40 B.C. Augustus’ attempt of driving out Lucius Antonius – brother of Marcus Antonius with whom Octavious was at war to seize power in Rome – was one of the greatest sieges in the history of Ancient Rome. Octavius won and immediately began the requalification process, giving a new social and architectural life to Perugia and renaming it “Augusta Perusia”. The inscription is still visible on the arches whose restoration – commissioned by the Municipality of Perugia – brought to light the original red finish in which the letters were painted, most likely to make them visible from afar.

There is another inscription on the arch, on the frame above the arcade, reading Colonia Vibia”, that was affixed by the Roman emperor of Perugian origins Trebonianus Gallus  (born in Monte Vibiano Vecchio, in the municipality of Marsciano, emperor from 251 to 253 A.D.) and declared Perugia a Roman colony.

The arch is located in Piazza Fortebraccio,near Palazzo Antinori-Gallenga Stuart.

You have already visited the city from top to bottom and want to take an alternative itinerary? Walk down from Piazza IV Novembre through the suggestive Via della Maestà delle Volte, then turn to Via Baldeschi. Take the stairway on your left. At the end of it, you’ll notice that the road splits forming a raised pedestrian walkway skirted by lateral parapets. The path develops independently through the buildings and alleys. Just walk along it and enjoy a beautiful view of the city from above.   What you are walking on, is nothing other than the city’s thousand-year old Medieval Aqueduct.

Built in 1254 to meet the increasing water demand of the city whose population was rapidly growing. The aqueduct is 4 Km (2.5 miles) long and starts from the water-rich mount Pacciano.

Like most of the history of Perugia and its monument, also the aqueduct has a very turbulent past. The construction works began in 1254, but were quickly suspended. Maybe because the architect died or simply because the ambitious project revealed to be harder than expected. The works were resumed in 1276, with Boninsegna as the architect appointed by Fra Bevignate. Apparently, the architect was the only one willing to pick up such challenge, but he certainly was up to the task. Making water go uphill wasn’t easy, but Boninsegna implemented an ingenious system of communicating vessels and lead pipes. The magnitude and importance of the work were celebrated with another monument that served as “terminal” to the whole system. It was Fontana Maggiore (the Main Fountain), built in 1278.

To this day the aqueduct is well preserved and parts of it in the city centre can be walked. Unfortunately the peripheral part has fallen in a state of abandonment.

Down the stairs of S.Ercolano, through the suggestive Corso Cavour and its restaurants and bars, the Gate of Saint Peter welcomes you to Borgo XX Giugno. At the end of the avenue, on the left, you will see the Basilica of Saint Peter. The building belongs to a Benedictine complex established in 966 by Pietro Vincioli over the ruins of a pre-Christian church which probably was the ancient cathedral of Perugia. All built on an old Etruscan-Roman land.

From the court, the basilica looks massive but slender also thanks to its tall and majestic belfry.

The beautiful XVI Century portal was decorated by Giannicola di Paolo with Madonna and the two Angels.

The insides are going to take your breath away. Get ready to bask in the beauty this church radiates. You will not believe the richness of its artworks: canvases, whittled wood, shades of marble, decorations on arches and columns: A view you will never forget. The colours are rather dark, but very deep and neat. Regal and solemn, but never sombre, they convey the austerity a place of worship like this requires.

There are three naves. A central one, taller, and two lateral ones, smaller in both height and length.

The beautiful wooden ceiling was whittled by Benedetto di Giovanni di Pierantonio. On the nave walls—between the columns and the ceiling – you will notice some Canvases depicting the life of Christ painted by the Aliense between 1592 and 1594.

Both naves are very rich in paintings realised by various artists of the Perugian and Tuscan schools between the XV and the XVII century, including: Eusebio da San Giorgio, Orazio Alfani, Giacinto Gimignani, Cesare Sermei, Ventura Salimbeni, and more.

At the bottom, on the right, we can see the sacristy, built in 1451 and also finely decorated, starting from the vault frescoed by Scilla Pecennini with Stories from the Old Testament. Other notable works include the Maiolica floor by Giacomo Mancini da Deruta and the five small canvases by Perugino; he included these subjects in his “Ascension of the Christ”, one of his greatest paintings and one of the many works confiscated during the Napoleonic domination , now kept at Musée des Beaux-Arts.

The beautiful decorations on the Gothic ribs are the work of Giovanni Fiammingo, who realised the “scenes of harvest and vintage” in 1592, Scilla Pecennini and Pietro d’Alessandro with “Theological and Cardinal Virtues” of 1594, and other contemporary artists. The current structure was built in the XIV Century, after the old semicircular apse was demolished to make room for the two large organs and the choir. The latter was built and whittled by Bernardino Antonibi and Nicola di Stefano da Bologna. Finally, in the middle, sits the High Altar built by Valentino Martelli using the finest marble – between the end of the XVI and the beginning of the XVII Century – which encases the tomb of Saint Pietro Vincioli.

Some of the various corporations that existed in Perugia became very prestigious during the years and acquired enormous power. One of them was the Art of Exchange.

It was so influential that it had its seat built in Palazzo dei Priori between 1452 and 157. The main occupation was money exchange, but de facto it was monitoring the various money trades and – in case of disagreement – the Board acted as an arbitrator.

Access to the area is gain through Sala dei Legisti, that was rented by the Bord of the Money Changers to the Board of Jurists. The fabulous wood decorations are the work of Giampiero Zuccari and were completed in 1621.

Then there is the hearing room, which was the seat of the Board of the Money changers and takes its name from the fact that its members could resolve about money exchange issues and were called “auditors”.

The internal decorations were commissioned to various artists, the most important of which is the Perugino, who realised one of the most beautiful paintings in the history of Renaissance Italy. Interior design and decoration was entrusted to Domenico del Tasso who, amongst other things, crafted the wooden bench and chairs. The golden terracotta statue was created by Benedetto da Maiano.

These rooms can be entered from Palazzo dei Priori on Corso Vanucci, before the beginning of via Boncambi.

The Sala dei Notari (room of the notaries) has this name since the Art of the Notaries of Perugia made it its official seat in 1582. Before then it was known as the room of the people, because it was mainly used for popular assemblies.

Today it is mainly used for exhibitions and conferences.

The first thing that meets the eye is the beautiful architecture of the room with its eight arcades and their marvellous decorations.

Unfortunately only little remains of the original XII and XIV Century frescoes, but the elegant strokes ascribed to Master of Farneto can still be appreciated. Many parts of the old frescoes were integrated by Matteo Tassi, who also painted some originals.

The walls mainly depicts stories and legends, the coat of arms of various city offices, including the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People), and even Braccio di Fortebraccio.

The entrance is of Palazzo dei Priorifaces Piazza IV Novembre, in front of the Chatedral of Saint Lawrence.

One of the most prestigious and renowned art forms in Perugia was the art of wares, whose representatives met at the Nobile Collegio della Mercanzia (Noble Board of Wares).

It was established in 1218, during the peak of Communal independence. The Nobile Collegio was created in order to represent one of the most important professions of the city. Its importance and influence slowly grew until when, in 1279, it was able to appoint the first two out of ten city priors. The other important monitoring offices that the Board managed to obtain included: collecting officials’ oaths, the guarantee to the captain,  the moderation of tax collection.

To this day the Statues of 1323, 1356, and 1599 are still preserved. These Statues regulated a code constituted by a series of professional rules: the ius mercatorum. This document disciplined the requirements for the admission and execution of a given activity, competition, weights and measures, modes and consequences of bankruptcy, certification, subordinated work and trade justice. The name lists of all the members registered to the board is also preserved.

Later, the representative value of the board gradually diminished until it disappeared when statue was modified in 1670, due to changes in the political life of the city and, especially, to the victory of the aristocratic party supported by Braccio di Fortebraccio. From that moment forward the Board would lose any popular and democratic aspect amongst the artisans, making way for the exclusive participation of the aristocracy.

The institution’s function is suppressed under Napoleonic rule, but the Board remained keeping its aristocratic nature until 1938.

The Board met in the Sala delle Udienze (audience room), which was decorated – in the first half of the XV Century – entirely with pine and hickory wood panels, probably whittled by masters of Nothern Europe. There are also inlaid seats embedded in three of the four walls of the room. On the right wall, stand-out the Perugian Griffon, on a rose window, and the refined arches above the two Consuls of Wares seats. Finally we have the bench whittled by Costanzo di Mattiolo in 1462 and a medieval chest sitting at the bottom of the room.

Palazzo dell’Università Vecchia (Old University Palace) is located on the east side of Piazza Matteotti, formerly Piazza Sopramuro, adjacent to Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo.

Designed by Gasperino di Antonio and Bartolomeo Mattioli da Torgiano in the XV century, its ground floor initially housed the hospital of Santa Maria della Misericordia – which commissioned it – whose monogram is supported by two griffins above the door that overlooks the square.

The first floor was built upon Pope Sixtus IV’s request who made it the seat of the Studium Generale Civitatis Perusii – the university of Perugia – built in 1266 it is the second oldest university in Italy after the one in Bologna.  It served as its headquarters until 1811.

The building also housed the first Mount of Piety in Italy established in 1462.

It was never completed in full – as it can be noted looking at the facade – but its decorations are still remarkable, such as the lattice windows at the first floor, whose architraves are enriched by some engraved inscriptions from the Gosple of Saint Matthew. Another beautiful specimen is the main door, guarded by a number of Perugian griffins.

The two city walls of Perugia feature as many as 22 gates built in different periods and styles.   The first ones – built along the perimeter of the Etruscan Wall – are still partially visible, while the others were built along the Medieval Wall starting from the XIII Century. From the Etruscan Arch or Arco Augusto (more details at this link), walking up Colle Sole (the Hill of the Sun) we reach the original location of Porta Sole (Gate of the Sun), which was replaced by Arco dei Gigli (the Arch of Lilllies), built on the ancient Wall but dating back to the XII Century and named after the Lilium Crest affixed by Pope Paul III. Here, the original city wall is no longer visible, but keep walking south along its perimeter and you will reach the Gate of Sant’Ercolano also known as Porta Cornea.  This gate is of Etruscan origin, but only the base is original while the pointed arch was rebuilt during the XIII Century. The statue of a lion (emblem of the Guelphs that celebrated their protection) sits on the arch-top. Further down the wall you will reach the magnificent Porta Marzia. Built in the III Century BC. it was one of the most important entrance gates to the city. Actually, the main gate was demolished to make room for Rocca Paolina. But luckily the architect who designed the Rocca, Antonio da Sangallo, decided to keep the original arch and encase it in the bastion. Thanks to him we can still appreciate the magnificence and importance that this gate once held. Above the arch sits a reproduction of a loggia with five sculptures, probably divine figures, and the inscription “Colonia Vibia” wanted by Vibio Treboniano Gallo, a Roman Emperor of Perugian origin.

Moving west, you will then arrive to Porta Eburnea (the Ivory Gate) also known as Arco della Mandorla (the Arch of the Almond). It was named after the fruit due to the shape of its pointed arch which was built in the Middle Ages following renovation. The travertine base is still original as well as the well preserved wall. The name Eburnea (Ivory) comes from the elephant’s tusks, which were the symbol of the district the door was built on.

The last Etruscan door is Porta Trasimena, also here the base is original while the pointed arch was built in the Middle Ages. The name was given because the door faces lake Trasimeno, but it is also known as Gate of San Luca or Madonna della Luce, from the nearby churches. It was the favourite door of the Baglioni Family, who lived in the district and believed the arch had propitiatory powers; they would always cross it before going to battle.

The first gate on the Medieval Wall is Porta Santa Susanna. It is located on the west side of the city in the homonymous district and owes its name to the Church of Santa Susanna, now the Crypt of San Francesco al Prato. The gate was built around the XIV Century and dominates a road that, in Middle Ages, was an important artery that connected Perugia with Tuscany and Lake Trasimeno whose waters probably inspired the blue in the crest.

By proceeding North along the Medieval Wall, after the neighbourhood of Elce and the Universities, you will find the Gate of Sant’Angelo, named after the ancient church of San Michele Arcangelo that also inspires the two wings and the sword of the crest on a red background that symbolises fire.

The arch is very majestic and imposing. It is the biggest Medieval gate in the city. It was built in three different periods, each time with different materials. The base was built using sandstone in 1326. The second layer was built in limestone by the will of the Abbot of Montemaggiore around the end of the XIV Century. The third and final layer was built in masonry by Fioravanti between 1416 and 1424, upon commission of Braccio Fortebraccio who wanted to turn it into a bridgehouse with embrasures, trap doors, or machicolations.

It was restored in the 1990’s and had been the seat of the City Wall Museum (Museo delle Mura Urbiche) until 2016, it currently hosts  “Musica, un’esperienza tutta da sentire” (an educational course in music).

Keep walking along the Medieval wall moving east and you will soon find the Arch of Sperandio. A small entrance to the city also from the Middle Ages with a Gothic inscription above the arch. It owes its name to the nearby female monastery which was in turn named after a writing above its door “Spera in Deo 1696” which is still visible.

Now follow the perfectly preserved wall towards South and you will get to Porta del Bulagaio, built in 1756 and restored in 2013. The origin of the name is not clear, but it refers to a word that in the local dialect means “chaos/confusion”.

Now let’s walk down Corso Bersaglieri, at the end of it you will find the Gate of Sant’Antonio, also wanted by the Abbot of Monmaggiore in 1374 as an extremity of the Papal Fortress of Porta Sole. The plate on the arch reminds that this is the gate the Bersaglieri who freed the city from Papal rule went through. This event also gave the name to the street that stretches from the arch: Corso Bersaglieri. Its parallel road leads to Porta Pesa or Arco dei Tei. Also this gate belongs in the district of Sant’Antonio and, to this day, it represents an important entrance to the city. Built in the XIII Century as a pointed arch, it was named after an ancient noble family who lived nearby. Although today its is mostly known by the name Porta Pesa (Gate of the Scale) due to the public scale that used to sit next to it.

The tour goes on up to Porta Santa Margherita, also in this case named after the nearby Benedictine Female Monastery. On the right side of the gate there is a bastion from an ancient XVI Century fortress.

Further southwards, along Corso Cavour‘s parallel street, we get to Porta San Girolamo, near Cinema Zenith which was a former Franciscan Convent. It was erected in the XV Century and then rebuilt at the end of the XVI by the will of Cardinal Alessandro Riario, (from whom the gate gets its alternative name: Porta Alessandrina) during the reign of Gregory XIII, as stated by the inscription. Today it is also known for being the starting point of the famous Peace Walk.

We reach the south of the city where we find the Arch of Braccio and the Gate of San Costanzo. The first was built in 1250 and was an important city gate with two bastions.  Its name is dedicated to the Perugian warlord Braccio Fortebracci, who used to train his troops in the surroundings. Today the arch is encased in the complex of the Monastery of San Pietro and, being no longer in use, it was replaced by the Gate of San Costanzo. This gate was built by the will of Benedictin Monks in 1587, but only finished at a second time when the Arch of Braccio was dismissed. It was never loved by the people, since it had repeatedly served as an entrance for foreign invaders or the troops of local oppressors (the Pope’s Army often marched through the gate to defend the Papal rule at the expense of the people of Perugia)

Now head towards Borgo XX Giugno, at the beginning of Corso Cavuor to reach Porta San Pietro. This vital access point to the city rises majestically between the two most beautiful streets of Perugia. It was built in different periods. The facade that looks at the old town dates back to the XIV Century, in a recess we can see a painting of Madonna del Rosario with Saints Francis and Domenico, while the newest part was built towards the end of the XV Century by Agostino di Duccio and Polidoro di Stefano, in a style reminiscent of the “Arch of Triumph”, with two lateral towers that reinforce the structure.

Further North, along the Medieval Walls, sits the Gate of Santa Croce or Gate of the three Arches.  Also in this case, it takes its name from the nearby Church of San Giuseppe, once Church of Santa Croce. The gate was renovated in 1857.

Not far from here, towards the old town the is Arco dei Funari. Built in the XIII Century. The name “Funari” means rope-makers and was an homage to the trade practiced in the workshops nearby.

Going wast from Via Luigi Masi, along the old wall that is no longer visible here, you will find Porta Crucia, also known as Porta Eburnea Nuova (the New Ivory Door).The arch dates back to the XIII Century, but the one we see today is a reconstruction built during the XVI Century. The material is the same as the Etruscan walls, travertine, together with red bricks. The plate on top commemorates the Papal Governor Antonio Santacroce who commissioned the gate. This gate was mainly used to transport the fish coming from Lake Trasimeno into the city, this is why the street that goes through it is called Via del Pesce, “Fish Street” in Italian.

The last gate on the final segment of the wall is Porta di San Giacomo. A small pointed arch built in the XIII Century and named after the nearby Church of San Giacomo.

Palazzo Antinori Gallenga Stuart, more commonly referred to as Palazzo Gallenga, is today home to the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

Its late-Baroque architecture confers it an elegant, slender and unpredictable style that never looks mundane.  The frontal facade looks at Piazza Grimana and its three levels are all meticulously and finely adorned. The main construction material is clay-brick, the central avant-corps is made of travertine, which was also employed to decorate the upper part of the window frames. In the centre of the building there is a magnificent portal, framed with Doric columns that also serve as support for the balcony above it.

Its construction was commissioned by Giuseppe Antinori in 1737 and it was designed by the architect Francesco Bianchi. The work was completed by the son of Giuseppe, Girolamo, who hired the architect Pietro Carattoli.

The Antinori family lived in the Palace until 1855 and sold it to Pietro Martinori, who also then sold it to Romeo Gallenga. The latter moved in with his spouse Mary Stuart Montgomery. Each owner personalised the internal decorations, but without affecting the existing ones. During his ownership Martinori – who only bought the building for speculative purposes – commissioned to Domenico Bruschi, in 1862, a decoration that would celebrate the Unification of Italy also depicting the Savoia coat of arms and the Albertine Statue. Later, the Gallenga hired the artist Matteo Tassi, who painted the Ball Room drawing his inspiration from the audience room of Collegio del Cambio. This room is now called “Goldoni Room” in honour of the playwright whose father was the Antinori‘s family doctor. Apparently the young writer was often to be seen in these rooms, on occasion performing as an actor.

The interiors are finely decorated. On the first floor there is a series of busts of divinities and rocaille details, while on the second floor we find frescoes and canvases dated 1972 depicting landscapes and ruins.  The decorations in the rooms are the work of Petro Carattoli and develop from Time, with the old Saturn and the hourglass, continuing with the Four Seasons, up to the last room where the Antinori family’s coat of arms is depicted.

More recent, but equally valuable, is a mural by Gerardo Dottori – one of the most important exponents of futurist aeropainting – called La luce dell’antica Madre depicting Aeneas looking at builders doing masonry work on the Colosseum.

The theatre was not originally named after Francesco Morlacchi. It only happened after the big renovation of 1874, by Guglielmo Calderini. The internationally famous Perugian musician had died a few decades earlier. Born in 1784, Francesco Morlacchi immediately showed a special talent for composition which he perfected with his studies in Naples during the first years of the XIX Century. After a string of successes in Central Italy he was awarded with the title of Chapel Master of Urbino, his fame grew exponentially also abroad and he was appointed Chapel Master of Italian Opera in Dresda, at a time of political turmoil when the Deutsche Opera was establishing itself and its circulation was also of particular political interest. For this reason Morlacchi was often targeted by the critics, who saw him as the embodiment of an outdated style that did not have the progressive character required by the times. He died of illness in Innsbruck in 1841, while travelling to Perugia. His role as Kapellmeister was filled by Richard Wagner.

It was thanks to the fame and prestige he accrued if the Perugian Academy decided to dedicate the renovated theatre to his memory.

Teatro Morlacchi was built a century earlier, opened in 15/08/1871 with the name Teatro Civico del Verzaro and a capacity of 1200 seats. It was commissioned by the city Bourgeoisie, almost as a response to the erection of Teatro del Pavone by the local aristocracy. It was designed by the architect Alessio Lorenzini, who had to use all his skills to adapt the structure to the small space he was given: a former cloister.

The theatre started working at full speed immediately, hosting several prominent actors, such as Irma Gramatica and Oreste Calabresi. The fascist regime and the heavy censorshp that followed caused a serious decline in the cultural activities of the theatre and things got even worse during the German occupation, when the building was exclusively used to entertain the Reich troopers with trivial representations. When the Accademia managed to take back control of the theatre, in 1942, they had to deal with the significant damage that was caused to the structure, so they decided to donate the theatre to the local administration which paid for a full renovation in 1950.

The Griffon and the Lion are both symbols of Perugia. The first is more connected with the actual history of the city – in a celebration of the sacred and profane traits that always characterised Perugia – the second refers to the Guelphs, the faction that sided with the pope at the time of the famous feuds. The two bronze statues are placed in the hall of Palazzo dei Priori, on the left side near the entrance.

Before being moved here they were paced on the Northern Door of Palazzo dei priori, the entrance to Sala Dei Notari. The ones we see on the facade today are a copy made after the restoration works of 1966.

Initially believed to be of Etruscan origins, they were then ascribed to Arnolfo Di Cambio who made them in 1218 as an element of Fontana degli Assetati. When the fountain was dismantled, they were brought to Palazzo del Podestà and only shown during the Procession of San Ercolano. From 1301 to 1966 they had embellished the facade of the palace and now can be visited by entering it, right above the main door.

Heding west from Piazza IV Novembre, towards Piazza Morlacchi or Piazza Cavallotti, you will go through the characteristic Via Maestà delle Volte.

Walking through it is like going back in time. Stop and admire the Fountain of Via Maestà delle Volte on your left.

Built in l 1928, would blend well with its historical surroundings if it wasn’t for that inscription shouting out: “XX sec.”.

Designed by the architect  Pietro Angelini, it was built under the arch of one of the old buildings that populate the alley. The name of both, the street and the statue, refer to a painting made in 1330 circa, under one of the vaults of Palazzo del Podestà, apparently to keep away wrongdoers from that once dark street. Then in 1335, the Oratory of Maestà delle volte was built to protect the painting, although it was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt in 1567. To this day it still holds the original painting.

At this point, having wandered along Corso Vannucci with its museums, magnificent palaces and imposing churches, you’re tired and want a place to relax for a while –without missing out on the chance to admire yet another unique sight – the Carducci Gardens are just what you need! Go right to the end of Corso Vannucci where you’ll find the gardens situated immediately after the ‘palazzo della provincia’, where part of Rocca Paolina once stood. There’s a monument in the centre to Pietro Perugino and busts of Giosuè Carducci, Orazio Antinori, Galeazzo Alessi, Guglielmo Calderini and Pintoricchio.

 

“So in Perugia it befell. Where dim in

The shade of that stern pile the city lay,

Love laugheth now, and merrily the women

And children prattle in the sun of May.

 

And through the spacious azure ever higher

The bright sun mounts, till far Abruzzi’s snows

Glisten, and yet with more intense desire

Of love on Umbrian hill and pasture glows.

 

Where in the rosy light serenely rising

The mountains interweave their perfect lines,

Until each tender contour melts and dies in

The golden violet haze that o’er them shines.

 

Is ‘t, Italy, thy fragrant hair strewn over

They nuptial bed, ‘twixt seas to east and west,

Which ‘neath the kisses of th’ eternal lover

Trembles in scattered ringlets to thy breast?

 

What’er it be, I feel spring with me blending,

And all my thoughts a sapphire radiance stains;

I feel the sighs, ascending and descending

‘Twixt earth and heaven, throb through my veins…”

These verses were written by Giosué Carducci when, during his time in Perugia, he spent time in the gardens that are now named after him and where he was inspired to write this poem ‘Canto dell’Amore’ (The Song of Love), part of which is quoted above. In the verses, the poet traces the thirst for power and control that had led Pope Paul III to build Rocca Paolina and to suppress and crush every possible uprising in Perugia. As he explains in his poem, the “… people are a dog, which biteth the stones it cannot hurl… And specially on fortress delighteth to exercise its iron fangs” and so the Perugians have recovered their spaces, uprooting symbols of power to lovingly restore them to civic pride. Where the fortress once stood, now grass and flowers grow.

You can enjoy some relaxation in these gardens, surrounded by greenery but still in the oldest part of the city. Looking out over the balustrade, there is a wonderful view of the southern part of Perugia, with its tapestry of houses merging seamlessly, in the distance, with the greenery of the Umbrian valley. And if you pass by at sunset, you’ll see a unique sight, as the setting sun illuminates the greenery in the distance and gilds the city’s travertine limestone buildings with its dying rays.

Maybe you’ll feel inspired, like the poet, and overwhelmed by emotion.

The Carducci gardens are a very popular place, both for tourists and locals, but they’re never too crowded and always manage to offer visitors some welcome peace and quiet.

Leaving from Piazza Italia, walking down Corso Vannucci for all its length, passing Fontana Maggiore and the Perugia Cathedral on your left, you will find yourself in Piazza Piccinino, with its ancient buildings and the timeless Etruscan Well.

From the XVI Century on, the history of this extraordinary display of hydraulic engineering has always been linked to the fate of the aristocratic palace in front of it. Those who owned the Palazzo would automatically become proprietors of the Well, whose cistern could be accessed from the building’s basements. Built in the XVI Century, Palazzo Sorbello takes its name from the family who owned it since the end of the XVIII Century: the Bourbon of Sorbello, now Ranieri di Sorbello. The history of the palace – which you can learn about by visiting its beautiful Museum – is deeply intertwined with the history of the family. A “foreign” family that was not born in Perugia. The Bourbon of Sorbello were in fact a branch of the Bourbon del Monte a glorious lineage that had been collecting glory and power all over Central Italy since the XII Century, also due to their legendary claim of descent from the royal French Burboun bloodline. The Sorbello were marquises who owned a small fief at the border between the Pope States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (which is roughly the modern regional border between Umbria and Tuscany) and they moved to Perugia at the beginning of the XVIII Century.

Marquis Guseppe I, maybe tired of living in his luxurious but isolated Castle of Sorbello, decided to try his fortune in the most important and vital city of the region, dwelling in a house that he received as dowry from his Perugian wife Marianna Arrigucci. The Marquisate was inherited by Uguccione III (one of his 16 children) who bought Palazzo Sorbello, previously owned by the Eugeni-Oddi family. He took advantage of the precarious financial situation of the owner to trade his modest residence with one of the most prominent and beautiful buildings in the city. Besides its looks, there was also a specific reason why the building was so famous: in 1734, Charles III, king of Spain and the two Sicilies, lived in one of its rooms. During the War of Polish Succession, Charles III came to Italy to reaffirm his power over Southern Italy, going through Perugia which was an allied city. When he arrived in the city with his court and huge army, he was magnificently welcomed and he chose Palazzo Sorbello amongst all the luxurious accommodations he was offered. The guided itinerary of the Museum includes the “Charles III” room, which was probably the Spanish king’s bedroom. After the change of hands the room was renovated into an elegant and spacious hall.

To this day the Palace is owned by the offsprings of the family and cannot be visited in its entirety, but the best part of the ground floor and piano nobile (noble floor) are open to the public thanks to the Ranieri di Sorbello Foundation who inaugurated the Museum “Casa Museo di Palazzo Sorbello” ten years ago. The exhibition includes part of the items collected by the family since the second half of the XVIII Century. The highlight of the collection is the massive library, with more than 26,000 volumes, some of which dating back to the XIV Century.

At the end of the staircase on Via Sant’Ercolano, you will find a beautiful XVI Century building whose entrance is gained through a beautiful and massive wooden portal.

In the XVI Century, this palace built on the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre was the home of Arcipriests della Penna.

It was Ascanio della Penna, in the XVIII Century, who started the art collection of the palace, which was moved to a different location at the end of the XIX Century.

Today the museum features a large collection of works by the German Artist Joseph Beuys and the famous Perugian futurist painter Gerardo Dottori, also known for co-authoring the “Futurist Aeropainting Manifesto” in 1929.

At the end of Via Dei Priori, in the square that once was Piazza degli Oddi, we find Palazzo degli Oddi, now the seat of the homonymous museum managed by the Marini Clarelli Santi Foundation.

A beautiful building erected at the beginning of the XVI Century, by the will of Guido degli Oddi, a member of one of the most powerful aristocratic families in Perugia. It is believed that the degli Oddi were of Hungarian origins and came to Italy with Frederick I. During the communal period the enjoyed great consideration in the city and owned several fiefs in the countryside. They are also remembered for their rivalry with the Baglioni family – who represented the Bourgeoisie –  which ended with the defeat of degli Oddi, the seizing of all their properties, and their exile. They managed to retrieve their belongings thanks to the intervention of the Pope, who was also fighting against the Baglioni to gain control over the city.

Only the ground floor is original and its hall is frescoed with beautiful XVIII Century paintings and is now home to an important art collection of paintings, drawings, prints, postcards, stamps, and antiques.

The collection was started by Angelo degli Oddi, who acquired about 69 paintings and 35 drawings. His footsteps were followed by the son Francesco who started indexing the artworks and expanded the collection until it reached 210 paintings and 1268 drawings.

The palace has always been privately owned by the degli Oddi, until the last member of the family Maria Vittoria degli Oddi (wife of Luigi Marini Clarelli) died in 1942.

Sitting in the middle of Corso Vannucci, it is one of the most prominent buildings on the avenue. Palazzo Bladeschi has an irregular shape that seems to follow the outline of the square. It is not the exploit of some eccentric architect, but the result of the merging of the buildings that preceded it.

The architectural footprint of the ancient Renaissance agglomeration is still visible to this day. In the middle of the XIV Century it was the home of the famous Jurisconsult Baldo degli Ubaldi, called Baldeschi. The original complex consisted in various dwellings connected to each other and it grew over time also thanks to the work of Baldo’s offsprings. Apparently, the ground floor war entirely dedicated to commercial activities.

At the end of XVI century the agglomerate was turned into a unique building, but several decorations kept being added during the following years.

In 2002, the palace was purchased by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia as a cultural landmark and turned into a museum. Palazzo Baldeschi was recently restored and houses many works of art divided in two collections. The first includes paintings and sculptures realised by Umbrian artists; the itinerary is divided thematically and by school. The main exponents of the Perugian School are represented, including Perugino and Pinturicchio, as well as the Folignate School, with the Alunno (Nicolò Liberatore) and the Gualdese School with Matteo da Gualdo.

The second section features 147 Renaissance Maiolicas from several collections.

On the cieiling of Sala delle Muse (Room of the Muses) you will find a beautiful XIX Century fresco by Mariano Piervittori.

The Oratory of Santa Cecilia is located on Via dei Priori. It was built between 1687 and 1690, together with the nearby Church of San Filippo Neri. It is the only fully Baroque building in Perugia. Designed by Pietro Baglioni it was also used as a music room, following the rule of the Filippini.

The building features various architectural decorations and paintings, including a 1688 canvas by Carlo Lamparelli depicting Madonna with Child and Saint Cecilia.

After the initial intense activity of the XVIII Century, the building was slowly used less and less until it fell in a state of abandonment.

Fortunately, the oratory was finely restored in 2001 and now houses several cultural events, especially concerts.

This palace sits near Palazzo dell’Università Vecchia, with which it shares some architectural similarities like the ground floor arches that look on Piazza Matteotti, formerly Piazza del Soprammuro after the large retaining wall that was built to expand the new square.

The palace was built between 1473 and 1481 by Gasperino di Antonio and Leone di Matteo.

The first thing that stands-out is definitely the beautiful portal, similar to the one on Palazzo dei Priori. The facade features various architectural styles from different periods, due to the various restoration works on the original one which was lost in an earthquake during the XVIII Century.

Initially the building was home to the Capitano del Popolo, “Captain of the People” in Italian, it was then used for various government offices. Today it is the seat of the Court of Perugia, but it is not open to the public.

Walking down Corso Vannucci from Piazza IV Novembre, right before Piazza Italia, you will find the elegant Palazzo Donini.

Built between 1716 and 1724, designed by Pietro Carattoli and commissioned by Filippo Donnini, who sold it to the City of Perugia in the XIX Century.

The architectural style is reminiscent of XVI Century Tuscany and there are several decorations by local XVIII Century artists, such as the painting of Jupiter striking the Chariot of Pride or the stuccoes painted by Francesco Appiani or the decorations in Sala del Caminetto (the fireplace room), by Pietro Carattoli e Giacinto Boccanera.

Today Palazzo Donini is home to the Regional Administration Offices.

The theatre was commissioned by the local Aristocracy between 1717 and 1723 with the name “Teatro della Nobile Accademia del Casino” in order to address the increasing need for a suitable space to host the many plays and spectacles that cheered up the evenings of its members and many other citizens. The small theatres scattered around the city had become too small for their growing audiences.

It was built in the very centre of the city:  Piazza della Repubblica, on Corso Vannucci.

The original structure was entirely made of wood, but it was demolished as early as 1765 for not being suitable for the new theatrical styles, especially for reasons of visibility.

The architect Pietro Carattoli was appointed to design the new theatre and build it in masonry in the typical horse-shoe shape. The project was inspired to Teatro Argentina in Rome.

In the following years the theatre was slightly expanded. In 1816 a first row of stages was built around the orchestra and adjacent structures were added to expand the building, the staircase to the orchestra was enlarged and a storage room was added.

Notable decorations include the parapets painted by Mariotti or the curtain depicting  “Turrena admiring the triumph of the Goddess Juno” – whose symbol was the peacock, in Italian: “Pavone”, hence the name of the theatre – by Francesco Appiani.

Perugia offers a wide range of activities and things to do, both inside and outside of the city walls. Besides all the arts-cultural-social scenes, which would require a whole chapter, there are also plenty of purely entertainment activities suitable for any kind of visitor. For example, there are several horse riding centres that organise courses and excursions. Just outside the centre, you could quench your thirst for more or less extreme sports such as canoeing, rafting, biking, trekking, to orienteering and indoor and outdoor climbing. You can also enjoy a hot-air balloon ride or speleological tours, along with a vast array of more relaxing activities such as golfing or visiting natural or amusement parks, like La Città della Domenica.

Or you could have some unconventional fun with a game of PaintBall or Laser-Tag.

do you want to know more?

ORIGINS – UMBRIAN-ETRUSCAN PERIOD

Unfortunately there are no precise records about the origins of the city; according to some sources, Perugia was founded by the Acheans, other maintain it was Eulistes, the Etruscan founder of Bologna (Felsina). The latter hypothesis links the building of the cities with the expansion of the Etruscan People in the Po Valley. Finally, other sources trace the foundation of the city back to the Umbrians.

One thing is certain: Perugia rises on lands east of river Tevere, which are considered Etruscan, but  are also deemed to border with the territory of the Umbrian people, for this reason its origins are considered both Umbrian and Etruscan.

During the Etruscan period Peruga was part of the “Dodecapolis”, the twelve confederate Umbrian cities of Etruria (Veio, Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Vucci, Volsini (Orvieto), Chiusi, Vetulonia, Volterra, Cortona, Arezzo, Fiesole), created in order to strengthen trade alliances.

The city stated developing mainly around the IV Century B.C., along with the surrounding territories. It is during that era that the first instances of Perugia’s road network start appearing. They will serve as blueprints for designing future main roads throughout the years.

To this day, landmarks proving the prominence of Perugia within Etruria and its links with the other great cities of the time, can still be seen. For example, the necropolies – notably the one in Palazzone, in the Ponte San Giovanni area which houses the famous Hypogeum of the Volumnus family – are evidence of the frequent relations with Chiusi.

A collection of stone inscriptions, engravings, weapons, tools and instruments of many kinds is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Umbria  (Museo Archeologico Nazionale Dell’Umbria).

Near the beginning of the III Century B.C., the advance of Rome becomes is increasingly threatening for Etruria. The Etruscans are repeatedly defeated and finally surrender at the battle of Sentino (296 B.C.), also remembered as the Battle of the Nations (of the ancient age). Thanks to this victory, the Romans – allied with the Picentes on one side, fighting against a league of Etruscans, Umbrians, Samnites and Senones on the other – established their dominion over Central Italy.

RISE OF THE ROMANS-DECLINE OF THE ETRUSCANS

Perugia plays a central role again during the Battle of Lake Trasimeno, one of the key fights of the e Second Punic War which took place in Tuoro sul Trasimeno between Hannibal, leading the Carthaginians troops, and the Roman Army. Hannibal, showing great strategic cunning, attacked the regions of Consul Gaius Flaminius by surprise, forcing him to advance towards the Carthaginian Army crossing Etruria and heading to Rome. This ambush turned into an actual carnage where about 15,000 Roman soldiers lost their lives. It is around this time that the Monumental City Wall of Perugia was built. Erected using large blocks of travertine for approximately 3 Km (1.8 miles) of length, it encloses the Landone hill and Colle del Solo. The famous “Etruscan Arch” or “Arch of Augustus” or “Porta Pulchra”, is the only city gate still intact today. The walls are still largely visible and well-preserved, as well as the cistern, called “Etruscan Well”, resting near Piazza IV Novembre.

Complete “Romanisation” of the city is achieved with the election of the new consul Paperna in 130 B.C. who favours the alignment of Umbrian and Etruscan populations with Rome and their final annexation in 89 B.C.

Unfortunately, shortly after, Perugia is theatre of another devastating conflict, this time the Roman civil war between Marcus Antonius and Octavius. Following the battle, Perugia (Perusia), where had settled Lucius Antonius, brother of the defeated Marcus Antonius was set on fire. Octavius Augustus had it rebuilt in full Roman style, bestowing it with the title of Augusta Perusia and re-qualifying it going as far as allowing the city to expand beyond its walls.

MIDDLE AGES

The beginning of the Middle Ages meant more wars for Perugia, this time it was the turn of the Goths, lead by Totila, besieging the whole Umbrian territory, and the Byzantines. The leader of the Perugians was Bishop Ercolano, who lost his life during the conflict: the city walls were destroyed and collapsed on his body which was extracted 40 days later, legend has it, without a scratch. The battle was won by the Goths who took over Perugia, but not for long, the Byzantines managed to reconquer it only a few years later. More conflicts followed throughout the years, this time it was the Longobards who threatened the territory with violent clashes and were often close to conquering the city. They never succeed though, the Byzantine Empire managed to resist and strengthen its influence on the territory, including the periphery, until the foundation of the Duchy of Perugia.

During the VIII Century A.D. Perugia was donated to Pope Stephen II by Pipino il Breve after he liberated the city from the Longobards, responding to the pontiff’s call. Soon many surrounding Umbrian lands will will suffer the same fate, as the future State of the Church would start to take shape.

THE COMMUNE

Initially, also thanks to the its bishop, the city was administered by a group of men who are put in charge of various city matters, starting a new body called the “Board of Consuls”. This new organisational system is going to develop in order to represent the citizens (cives) outlining in a new structure of power: the Medieval Commune.

In the meantime, the city of Perugia was becoming increasingly autonomous and its independence was officially granted by Henry VI in 1186 and later by Pope Innocent III who would recognise the power of the consulate, although annexing it under its protection.

The structure of the Commune keeps morphing until all powers are concentrated in the hands of an allegedly impartial functionary called “Podestà”, chosen by the milites (nobles) of the city, flanked by the Board.

Many years of order and prosperity come to an end between the XIII and XIV Century, as Perugia faces a political crisis, also due to its war with Foligno. The fiscal measures imposed by the Art Consuls, spark widespread discontent in the city causing a phase of instability between the “popolo grasso” (meaning fat people, wealthy class representing the more prestigious professions) and the “poplo minuto” (puny people, the poorer workers). In the end, the “popolo minuto” gets the upper hand and the Magistracy of Art Consuls is replaced by the Art Priors. This represents a key change, since the Priors will remain in charge until the beginning of the XIX Century (save a small interruption during the XVI Century), meeting in the “Palace of Priors”, Palazzo Dei Priori,  today home to the National Gallery of Umbria.

The following years are characterised by a succession of new rulers and different distributions of power. The first internal clashes are between two parties: Raspanti and Beccherini, the first is a reincarnation of the former “popolo grasso”, the latter represents the aristocracy fighting to regain their former power. Those years of instability did not spare the Pope, whose domination had constantly been questioned throughout the whole history of Perugia in its strive for Autonomy.

VARIOUS POWERS AND AUTHORITIES

At the end of the XIV century Perugia is involved in a much larger conflict. Giangaleazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, wants to extend his dominion to Central Italy and Perugia is the ideal outpost for expanding southwards. The Church does not like this idea one bit. On the other hand, the Council of Priors, on the 19th of January 1400, deliberates in favour of the Duke in exchange for aids and economic promises.

However, soon after Visconti passes away and Perugia falls back in the hands of the Pope, but also his dominance will be short-lived. A few years later, the warlord Braccio Fortebracci da Montone appears on the scene. For quite a while, he had been wandering around Umbrian territories plundering and conquering them and now he was ready to take over Perugia. Although, an alliance between the People’s Government of Perugia and the King of Naples Ladislao D’Angiò Durazzo – who is appointed Lord of the city after swearing to defend it from invaders – make things difficult for Braccio. Not one to give up easily, he keeps roaming around the area, waiting for his chance, that would finally come in 1414. The death of Ladislao gives Braccio enough time to reorganise and successfully take over Perugia in 1416. From that moment on, although without upsetting the institutional balance of the city, Braccio will rule until his death in 1424. This event will allow Baglioni to rise to power.

Soon after Fortebracci‘s death the Church seizes power again and – with the help of local families, in particular the Baglioni – tries to restore order without overturning the institutional structure, but simply by strengthening its grip. A Papal Representative and an arbitration body are appointed, as a sort of allegedly supra-partes magistrature. This is a very favourable environment for the Baglioni family and their climb to power: they manage to sneak into various supervisory bodies and become increasingly prominent. Another key aspect is their fellowship with the Medici, especially Lorenzo the Magnificent. The power of the Baglioni is constantly challenged by the endless rivalry with another local noble family, the Oddi, who are also trying to rise to power, but any attempt of revolt is repressed.

At the beginning of the XVI Century, the Church attempts to re-assert its power upon Peugia –which tries to resist with the remaining members of the Baglioni family – and between 1530 and 1540 the city even refuses to pay some of the taxes imposed by the Pope (like the infamous duty on salt). As a result the Pontiff excommunicates Perugia. It follows a period of tension during which the city tries to stand up to the Pope who –  with the help of the Farnese – regains control. In order to showcase his power, Paul III orders the construction of the overwhelming Rocca Paolina (1540-1543) symbolising the papal rule being imposed upon the citizens in general and the Baglioni family in particular.

The Church ruled through the following centuries, with a brief interruption in the early eighteen hundreds when Napoleon’s Army seized power. These were periods of stagnation, without any particular economic growth or relevant progress, except for construction of various noble palaces across the city. During these centuries, especially after the Church took power back from Napoleon, public opinion was very critical and striving for change.

RISORGIMENTO

From the second half of the XVIII Century’s thirties discontent is growing in Perugia and the first clandestine organisations in the wake of National Revolutionary Movements start to develop. The Citizens of Perugia are the protagonists of the first Independence War and especially the second, when a group of volunteers decided to join the Piedmontese army leaving Perugia undefended after it disobeyed the State of the Church. This allows the pope to infiltrate a contingent of the Swiss Army through the gates of Perugia. The soldiers viciously attacked and brutally massacred the Perugian citiziens – poorly armed and unorganized – who remained to defend the city (the fight saw about 2000 Swiss soldiers against 1000 Perugian civilians). This happened on June 20, 1859 and it is remembered with the name “massacres of Perugia”.

On September 14, 1860 Perugia is freed by the Piedmontese army who forced the Swiss to seek refuge in the Rocca Paolina. Perugia is annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia, which will later become the Kingdom of Italy.

Perugia, as well as the rest of Umbria, is also rich of small handicraft enterprises. Its alleys are sprinkled with small workshops where ancient crafts are preserved by expert hands. Time seems to have frozen in these shops and ateliers that preserve their authenticity and narrate the daily life of these skilled artisans. Luckily for those who wish to learn more about local traditions, many of them are open to the public. Typical crafts of Perugia include glass, gold, iron, and wood working.

Just like craftsmanship, also food and wine culture in Perugia is thriving. Umbria is a land of natural delicacies with many strong small local traditions. Being second to none, the city sports a broad assortment of local products and recipes. If you want to know more there is a whole dedicated section,  but we cannot but mention the “Torcolo Di San Costanzo”, a typically Perugian dessert (San Costanzo is one of the patron saints of Perugia), or the Brustengolo (a wheat, apple and dried fruit pie) or the famous “torta al testo” (a type of stuffed flat bread), which is a must-eat for any visitor.

Perugia is also and foremost a dynamic and lively city, where all sorts of events – especially musical and culinary – happen every day. The internationally famous Umbria Jazz, is one of the most prestigious music festivals in Italy and it takes place throughout the whole city in the middle of July. Walking the streets of Perugia in October is even sweeter, thanks to the EuroChocolate fest that colours the city centre with spectacles, stands, and exhibitions of various flavours, provided that they are chocolate of course. Many free concerts are regularly held in Piazza IV Novembre. Seasonal open air markets often sprout all over town, the most famous of all being the Christmas Market of Rocca Paolina. There are also numerous theatres providing a very rich and divers offer of plays and shows.

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