Written byBarbara Radcliffe Rogers
Updated September 13, 2021
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Perugia, the capital of the Umbria region, is worth a visit not only for the beauty of its hilltop location, but also for its beautiful old buildings. Before coming under Roman rule, ancient Perusia was one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan Federation, and considerable parts of the Etruscan walls that stretched 2,800 meters around the city remain.
Perugia is known in the art world as the center of the Umbrian school of painting in the 15th and 16th centuries; its main members Pietro Vannucci (called Perugino) and Bernardino Betti (called Pinturicchio) worked here. The young Raphael worked in Perugino's studio until 1504. You can find works by all three in churches and public buildings, which are top tourist attractions in Perugia for art.
Plan your visit with our list of top attractions and things to do in Perugia.
See also:Where to stay in Perugia
1. Roca Paolina
One of the most unusual places in Perugia is buried deep within its charming streets and ancient squares. Its history dates back to 1540 when Pope Paul III, a member of the Farnese family, ruled the Italian states.
Perugia, ruled by the rival Baglioni family, was the last to fall to papal troops, and Pope Paul retaliated by ordering the construction of a massive fortress on Colle Landone, the neighborhood that contains all of Baglioni's palaces and possessions. More than 100 dwellings, tower houses, churches and monasteries, some of which date back to Etruscan and Roman times, were destroyed and their stones used to build the fortress.
It was only in the mid-19th century that Perugia freed itself from papal rule when the hated symbol of its subjection was destroyed. What tourists can see today are thosearched foundations and passageways that were once pathways, now deep underground.
This free attraction is easily accessible via the escalators that take you from the Piazzale Partigiani parking lot or the train station to Via Baglioni Baglioni (there's no Via Farnese, so the Baglioni get the last laugh). Inside, an excellent art film on the history of Rocca and Perugia is well worth watching.
2. National Gallery of Umbria
The National Gallery of Umbria, third floorPrioratspalast, contains paintings by Perugino; Pinturicchio; and other artists of the Umbrian school, including Benedetto Bonfigli and Bartolomeo Caporali; as well as sculptures by di Cambio and di Duccio. It shows the development of painting in Umbria from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, with its greatest strength between the 13th and 18th centuries.
Highlights of the collections include a 1272 Crucifix by an unknown artist from Perugia; five statues from 1281 by Arnolfo di Cambio;virgin and childvon Duccio di Boninsegna, gemalt 1305; 1456virgin with saintsby Benozzo Gozzoli (1456); a polyptych of Sant'Antonius by Piero della Francesca; and another by Fra Angelico from 1437.
In the Cappella dei Priori there is a cycle of frescoes by Benedetto Bonfigli, completed between 1454 and 1480, depicting Perugia at that time. In the chapel there are several works by Perugino, a polyptych of Saint Augustine by Pinturicchio and sculptures by Agostino di Duccio.
Direction: Palacio dei Priori, Corso Vannucci 19, Perugia
3. San Lorenzo
The 15th-century Gothic hall church of San Lorenzo, Perugia Cathedral has an unfinished façade, although its construction lasted from the laying of the first stone in 1345 to 1587. The pink and white stone decoration on the exterior was only completed. on the side wall facing the Fontana Maggiore.
Inside are beautiful 15th century choir stalls and a pulpit built in the 14th century from older stone fragments. The stucco molding and faux marble painting date from the 18th century, and the 16th-century Mannerist doorway was moved here from the nearby Collegio del Seminario.
Look in theSan Bernardino Chapelfor Federico Baroccipresentation,from 1567-69. In the sacristy, which is accessed from the chapel to the right of the high altar, there are 16th-century frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi di Pesaro. To the east of the Cathedral, the Church ofSaint Severuscontains a fresco by Raphael from 1505,The Trinity.
Address: Piazza IV November, Perugia
4. Fontana Maggiore and Piazza IV Noviembre
In the center of Perugia's attractive main square, Piazza IV Novembre, stands the 13th-century Fontana Maggiore, one of the finest fountains of the period, with reliefs by Tuscan master stonemasons Nicola and Giovanni Pisano. Its two multi-sided basins are of white and pink stone, and above them a trio of bronze nymphs hold an urn from which water gushes.
This square has always been the political and social center of the municipality: in Roman times it was the forum and the medieval city extends along the five streets that come together here. On the west side of the square is theArchbishop's Palacewith thehistorical museum of nature,and behind is the vaulted vault of thePalace of the Podesta, which burned down in 1534. The medieval Via delle Volte runs from Piazza IV Novembre to theFortebraccio-Platz.
5. Saint Peter
Outsidepeterstoris the Church of San Pietro, an early Christian structure rebuilt in the 12th century and containing 18 of the ancient columns. The beautiful Gothic wooden choir stalls, completed between 1535 and 1591, are considered among the best in Italy.
The painted and gilded wooden ceiling dates from 1556 and the church is also decorated with frescoes and paintings by various artists, including Antonio Vassilacchi, Sassoferrato, Guido Reni, Vasari, Guerricino and Perugino. In the sacristy there are inlaid furniture and paintings by Perugino, Parmigianino and Raphael.
The ornate Porta San Pietro dates from the 14th century and its outer gate from the 15th century. Southwest of the Church, theFronton Gardensit extends to Porta San Costanzo, with beautiful views.
Address: Via Borgo XX Juni, Perugia
6. Palacio dei Priori and College of Change
On the south side of the cathedral is the Palazzo dei Priori, also known as the Palazzo Comunale, a massive Italian Gothic-style building from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. On the side that faces youFourth of November Squarethey include a griffin (the symbol of Perugia), a 14th-century bronze lion, and chains, all commemorating Perugia's victory over Siena in 1358.
On the first floor of the palace, entered through the beautifully carved main door facing Corso Vannucci, is the magnificent Sala dei Notari. The room is covered with frescoes of biblical and allegorical scenes from the end of the 13th century.
In the mid-15th century an annex was added to the Palazzo dei Priori to house the Collegio del Cambio, now a tourist attraction in its own right. The banking guild was one of the most powerful in the city, and its headquarters and stock exchange are lavishly decorated. The carved wooden doorway is just the beginning of what to see here.
The walls of the Sala dei Legisti (lawyers' room) are by Giampietro Zuccari and the furniture is inlaid wood. but it's hercourtroom(Hall of the Auditor), considered the finest and best preserved secular room of the 15th century in Italy. The walls and vaults are decorated withPerugino frescoes.
Direction: Corso Vannucci, Perugia
7. Holy Archangel
In the Borgo Sant'Angelo neighborhood, near the old north gate Porta Sant'Angelo, stands the round church of Sant'Arcangelo, built between the 5th and 6th centuries. This early Christian temple features 16 columns with Corinthian capitals reused from an older pagan temple. The architecture is early Romanesque with some Byzantine influences; The columns separate the central nave from the surrounding ambulatory.
The church has interesting early Christian symbols, including a pentagram at the entrance; There are also crosses in the style of the Knights Templar. The restorations of the 20th century discovered filled windows, as well as remains of some ancient frescoes.
Address: Via del Tempio, Perugia
8. The August Book
The Arco d'Augusto, once one of the seven gates that allowed access through the Etruscan walls that surrounded Perugia, was built in the second half of the 3rd century BC. Due to Perugia's walls and elevated position, Augustus managed to take Perugia only after a seven-month siege.
The inscription "Augusta Perusia" on the gate dates from this period. The two gate arches connect two trapezoidal towers. The loggia at the top of one of these was added in the Renaissance, and the fountain below this tower was completed in 1621.
9. Santo Domingo
The brick church of San Domenico was begun in 1305, but soon after its completion the upper section was found to be unstable and was demolished. In 1614 the pillars of the nave collapsed and with them the vault they supported, so the church was rebuilt during the reconstruction from 1621 to 1634.
The Baroque decorations that were added at the time have been removed and the church retains most of its Gothic appearance, which can be seen on the exterior, the choir chapels, and the unusually large window in the apse. If you notice a resemblance between the design of this church and the cathedral, it is because this Gothic hall style was the inspiration for the later one.Saint Lawrence.
Important works of art to note are the Renaissance wood inlays in the choir; remains of frescoes from the 15th century attributed to Benedetto di Bindo; the 15th-century altarpiece by Agostino di Duccio in the Madonna del Voto chapel; and the tomb of Pope Benedict XI, one of the best examples of 14th century Gothic wall tombs.
Address: Giordano Bruno Square, Perugia
10. Day trip to Lake Trasimeno
West of Perugia, Lake Trasimeno, with an area of 128 square kilometers, is the largest Italian lake south of the Po Valley. Fed almost exclusively by rainwater, its volume varies greatly depending on the season. Historically, Lake Trasimene is famous for being the scene of the Second Punic War, when the Carthaginians under Hannibal fought in 217 BC. defeated the Romans.
The old town is located on the north side of the lake.Passignano sul Trasimenowith old castle; on another promontory on the west side of the lakecastiglione del lago, also with lock.
11. Hypogäum der Volumni (Tomb of the Etruscans)
About four kilometers east of Perugia, near Ponte San Giovanni, is the underground tomb of the Volumni, believed to date from the 3rd century BC. B.C., one of the most beautiful tombs in Etruria. The large and well-preserved tomb, accessed by an underground stairway, imitates the design of houses of the time with nine chambers grouped around a central atrium.
Here you will find finely carved funerary urns and other artifacts, including the travertine urn of Arnth Veltimna Aules. The tomb is part of a larger necropolis dating from the 5th century.heo 6hecentury BC It was discovered when a new road was built between Perugia and Rome.
12. Taller Moretti Caselli
After admiring the intricate stained glass windows in Italian churches, you might be interested in learning how they're made. Immerse yourself in this beautiful art on a tour of the studio and workshop of a fifth-generation family of glass artists.
Atelier Moretti Caselli has been making and restoring stained glass and other glass art since 1860, and you can learn about the entire process on a guided tour with one of the artists. As he learns about the process and science of stained glass, he will see the kilns and pigment racks used for centuries to create some of the finest stained glass in Italy.
This is one of the most exciting and informative tours in Tuscany. You need a reservation, but the tour is free; You are expected to leave a modest donation.
Direction: Via Fatebenefratelli 2, Perugia
13. Archaeological Museum
In the former Dominican monastery, adjacent to San Domenico, is the Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell'Umbria with Roman and Etruscan antiquities from the Bronze and Iron Ages, some from the 16th century BC.
The rarest piece in the museum is Cippus Peruvianus of the 3rd or 2nd century a. BC, the longest known Etruscan inscription. The collection includes funerary urns, Etruscan and Roman bronzes, jewellery, goldsmithing and works recovered from tombs of the Hellenistic period.
Direction: San Domenico, Piazza Giordano Bruno, I-06100 Perugia
14. Oratory of San Bernardino
The magnificent façade of the Oratorio di San Bernardino in colored marble, limestone and glazed terracotta was created between 1457 and 1461 by Agostino di Duccio, best known as the artist responsible for the Tempio Malatesta in Rimini. Its semicircular bas-relief in the central arch is the most important Renaissance work in Perugia.
Saint Bernardino of Siena, who had preached in Perugia, was canonized in 1450 and the local Franciscan friars built this oratory in his honor. An early Christian sarcophagus from the 4th century serves as the base for the main altar, behind which is a door that leads to the Oratory of Saint Andrew, with a wooden ceiling from 1558 and painted decorations and stucco from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Direction: Piazza San Francesco al Prato, Perugia
15. Deruta Day Trip
About 20 kilometers south of Perugia, Deruta is a center of Umbrian ceramics, and shops selling these brightly painted majolica wares fill the center of the small town. To see some beautiful old pieces, visit theMajolika-Museoon the first floor ofCity hall.
The little church ofOur Lady of the Bath, on the E45, two kilometers south of Deruta, has more than 600 majolica votive tablets. The town itself is attractive and the cobbled streets are worth strolling through.
Accommodation options in Perugia for sightseeing
We recommend these charming hotels and guest houses in Perugia, near the impressive old town:
- The 5 star luxury hotelThey areBrufanit exudes old world charm while offering guests extras like a pool and nightly turndown service.
- middle classSangallo-PalastHotelIt's in a convenient location for sightseeing, with an indoor pool and free breakfast.
- The AffordableHotelRosalbait is just a few steps from the old town and offers a beautiful view.
- cheap roomsHotel Sant´Herculaneumhave small balconies; The location is fantastic.
Tips and Tours: How to make the most of your visit to Perugia
- Touring Perugia:See the top sights and learn about the city's long and dramatic history over the course of two hours.Perugia Private Walking TourRoute. On this private tour, you will have the exclusive attention of your guide, who will be able to answer your questions and recommend activities in Perugia according to your own interests.
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