It is simply amazing – wonderful – spectacular – molto bene – to be traveling internationally again, and currently, back in Europe! We have spent two full days here, and as we walked up and down hilly streets in this mountainous ancient city of Perugia, we kept talking about how we loved exploring new places and loved to be out in the world again. During our spring and summer in Europe, we are mostly visiting places that will be new to us, while including some of our favorites. We love big cities, so we couldn’t miss Paris, Brussels, or London, even though we have visited them before.
So….new to us is Perugia, in Umbria. It is less than 20 miles from Assisi, which we loved, but wanted to stretch and explore a new place. In the 16th century, Perugia was described as one of the loveliest cities in Europe. It was graced with 70 imposing family towers, a massive circuit of Etruscan walls, and had many noble places and elegant churches. For 120 years, the city was home to the papacy, with four different popes presiding from Perugia. There is a rich history here, as there is an ancient Roman aqueduct that is now a pedestrian walkway, an Etruscan well (still functional!) dating to the 3rd century BC, ancient Etruscan towers/arches/walls that are still standing, and lively restaurants, bars, street musicians, and chocolate-chocolate shops every few feet. It is really fun, really Italian (want something other than Italian cuisine? The best of luck!), really beautiful.
We had a heck of a time finding a restaurant, any restaurant, for dinner our first night. Even though dining places are all over the place, we like to eat between 5-6 pm. Starting at 5:00 pm, the first four restaurants we tried opened at 7:30. The next several were only serving cocktails, as their kitchens had closed. Some that were open had cold slices of pizza. Some that we looked up on Google Maps, and verified that they were open – were closed, with no explanation. It seems that 3 pm to 7 pm is for cocktails or drinks only, with the kitchen staff taking a break, and then reopening for dinner later. But nobody says that, they just advertise “Open all day.” Then when you sit and get cozy and find exactly what you want, they tell you they are not serving food! Exasperating! We have been through this before of course, but it has been a while since we have been to Europe, so we forgot. A funny ending, though – we walked around from 5-7 looking for food, and at the end, it was 7 pm and all the places were opening for dinner! We eventually ended up eating at the place we had originally planned. So we got what we wanted, just not at the time we wanted it!
As we walked through the area near our hotel, we came upon the ancient Etruscan Well, dating to the 3rd century BC. Our first view of the top of the well was of a new friend, Eduardo, stretched out and peering into the well…see the photo! Eduardo is a very nice guy, and as we talked, discovered that he studies theology in Rome as a seminarian. We also discovered that he lived in Pasadena, just 40 miles from our old home. He is 27, and has been in the seminary since age 12! He has studied in Northern California, Mexico City, and Rome. You can see the genuineness in his face and demeanor. Even though his friends were leaving, he was happy to chat with us for a few extra minutes. He was an extraordinary person to meet, and we are so happy we laughed at his antics, he laughed back, and it gave us the opening to talk with him for a while.
Outside of walking around the city and just enjoying people-watching and finding photos for this post, we visited the ancient Etruscan Well museum, walked the Via Appia (the old Roman aqueduct), and visited a church with which we are smitten, St. Michael the Archangel. It was all new, very interesting, and truly a few steps back in time. The people were friendly and quick to smile. We are fully embracing Italy. There is nothing that we don’t love here.