A Local’s Guide to Perugia, Italy: Five Great Things to Do
Umbrian specialties and items may be found in Perugia. Numero Zero is a new restaurant in town, and the proprietors care deeply about social inclusion, hiring young individuals with mental health issues as servers. “Being different is not a reason for humiliation,” they declare in their mission statement.
I went there on a first date and, despite the fact that the relationship didn’t work out, I’m still fond of the restaurant because of the delicious cuisine and welcoming staff. My vegetarian partner appreciated his courgette escabeche and strangozzi pasta with vegetable ragù, while they served a lot of meat from local farms; I had delicious pigeon with chard and wild fruits.
Help! How can I narrow down a city with 2,500 years of history to only one spot? The city’s two kilometers of Etruscan walls? Do you know about the 13th-century Torre degli Sciri? Peruvian Baudelaire here, and my favorite place to wander is the softly lighted Rocca Paolina, where centuries of intrigue and political intrigue have played out. It’s a fortification that Pope Paul III had erected in 1543, and most of the surrounding neighborhood, including the Baglionis’ home, was destroyed or remodeled. All of this has a Game of Thrones vibe to it. As a result, it has been transformed into a network of public tunnels under the city’s historic core, complete with exhibition rooms and a museum. Continue your journey back in time with a tour of the San Lorenzo cathedral excavations (€10 per person), which will take you to Roman Perugia and then to the Etruscan Acropolis, where you can see a sixth-century BC temple.
To many people, Porta Sole is the city’s artistic district, home to everything from performance art to graffiti art to poetry readings to craft classes. Take Via Cartolari to Mannaggia (roughly translated as “Damn it”) bookshop, which specializes in small publishers and hosts regular evening events. From there, walk along Via della Viola past small shops and restaurants to the Post Modernissimo cinema, which is actually Perugia’s oldest movie theater still in operation! Due to a social enterprise’s successful crowdfunding campaign, it was able to reopen in 2014 after being shuttered in 2000. There are three screens at the cinema, as well as an aperitivo terrace outside.
Many people associate the Tiber with Rome, but it actually rises in the Apennines and flows through Perugia before reaching the river, which can be reached via a two-hour walk along the Sentiero delle Lavandaie (a washerwomen’s path that is a part of the 550-kilometer Via di Francesco trail) in both directions. The best place to start is at the Porta Pesa gate, where the riverfront hamlet of Pretola’s washerwomen would come to work. Washerwomen continued to utilize the way as a primary mode of transportation until the mid-1960s, according to a document from the Perugia City Council dated 1299. Each Sunday, they would show up to pick up the laundry from the homes of the rich. To reach Pretola’s watermill and its medieval tower, go along the trail, which was reopened in 2011. More GPS-marked walking routes are available in the Perugia InApp, which may be downloaded for free.
Located below the town hall on a hill, Punto di vista bar offers spectacular views of the Tiber Valley as well as tasty beverages. Evenings are best spent strolling down Corso Vanucci, stopping at a pub patio to watch people. Dempsey’s, a cocktail bar near the cathedral, is open until 1.30 a.m. and offers what seems to be every liquor in existence, as well as excellent margaritas. Bottega del Vino, located up the winding Via del Sole, has live music on Wednesdays and a wide selection of Umbrian wines.
An 11th-century church in the heart of Little Italy was transformed into a hip hotel. Beds in the dorms start at €17, although there are also family rooms and a double in the building’s old side chapel for rent. Doubles start at €77 and apartments start at €380 a week at Hotel Fortuna, located in a 14th-century structure along Corso Vanucci.