Day 1,551 of Traveling the World | Perugia, Italy | May 2, 2022

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.

Prefettura di Perugia (government office building). Loved how this photo turned out. It can be framed, put on a wall, and titled, “Solitude.”
A view of the lower part of the city, taken from the upper part. This reminds us a lot of Luxembourg, where there also are “two cities,” an upper and a lower.
The famous Etruscan, or Northern, Arch, dating to the 3rd century BC. She is looking pretty good for having celebrated her 2,000th birthday, right?
A pretty enclosed square with a fountain and a canopy of wisteria. The aroma from the wisteria was very strong and heady.
We liked how there is a smaller arch under a larger arch! Arches are everywhere in Perugia.
As we looked for a place to eat dinner, we saw a sign for this pizzeria from the main square, which was down a narrow alleyway. We peeked inside to see if they were open, but decided against eating there.
Part of the “main drag” in the upper city, which was dotted with dining and drinking areas.
Giardini Carducci has this pretty fountain and lots of fresh flowers.
Art is everywhere. Can you believe…this is the ceiling of our hotel’s breakfast room?
A connecting walkway across the street, looking out to Giardini Carducci.
Looking down to the “lower” city, there was a small cocktail bar on the right, with fabulous views for people who were drinking the day away.
We believe this was the setting for wedding photos, not the ceremony, as there were FOUR photographers at work! The bride’s “limousine” was a convertible VW Beetle!
Meet Eduardo! Our first view of him was the bottom photo, legs stretched out, bottom up, peering down into the ancient Etruscan well. We kept this photo square, as when we rounded it, it cut off his feet! We requested a regular photo from Eduardo so you could see his FRONT side!
When you climb down a few stories in the museum, you come to this walkway constructed inside the Etruscan well. It has quite a large diameter.
Peering over the edge of the walkway, you can see the water in the well.
The view from the upper floor, but not as far up as when Eduardo was peering into it!
…and of course, the gift shop sells Etruscan well water…just 4 euros each!
Another day, another arch….
Another day…well, you know. But this one has the Virgin Mary with the Lamb of God.
Looking out the windows next to the elevator at our hotel is this pretty view. The courtyard itself is small and enclosed, so these flowers are clearly meant for the owners’ eyes – and ours – and anyone peeking out the window.
A street on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by old city walls.
We walked down these many steps to get to the Via Appia, which we will show you in the next photo. Our days in Perugia were a series of hills to be walked UP, then down. No wonder hotels don’t have gyms!
Believe it or not, this is the ancient Roman aqueduct that supplied water to the city of Perugia. It is now a pedestrian walkway. Being so high up, we got to check out people’s roofs and their drying laundry.
Do these chimneys look positively ancient, or what???
Over the centuries, the aqueduct was broken in places to make doorways for houses, and in one place, an entire front yard!
Saint Angelo Gate…a medieval gate at the beginning of Perugia’s historic district, adjacent to the church in the next photo.
The Church of St. Michael the Archangel, also called the Temple of Sant’Angelo. When we first saw photos of it, we thought it was a contemporary church, recently built. But it dates to the 5th century! It is one of the oldest churches in Italy, with circular construction because it was built over an earlier Roman temple.
A church perfect for liturgy! The seating is circular, winding about 3/4 of the way around the room, and there are a dozen windows and 16 columns made of stone of differing origins. Directly behind the altar, in the nook with the window, is the music area (organ, piano, and choir seats.) The acoustics were great, as it is constructed of all hard surfaces with no carpeting. It was intimate, with everyone close to the altar…a perfect church.
That domed ceiling!
Saints Agatha, Lawrence, and Veronica (holding the cloth with which she wiped Jesus’ face). This fresco dates to the 14th century.
An inscription regarding indulgences, signed by Pope Octavus, a designation added to the eighth pope of any name, so we are unsure to whom it refers. But we loved that it is signed as “Papa.”
The pretty baptistry, with an ancient fresco of the Madonna and Child dating to 1421.
Another view of this magnificent church.
The church is trying to raise money to relocate the bells, but we don’t know where they are going. There is an inscription on the largest one, and the date is just three years post-Columbus: 1495.
Sepulcher of Herculan Februtii, no date, but all the grave markers inset in the floor looked as old as the church!
Have you ever had Perugina chocolate? It is made in a factory here in Perugia.
The mascots of Eurochocolateeating chocolate, of course!
Look at all those rounds of chocolate, waiting to be broken and sold! So many varieties!
It was very cute to use the Italian character, Pinocchio, to advertise this chocolate store by having him hold a sign that says, “I don’t like chocolate!!” Nope, Pinocchio, you don’t – that is why your nose is growing!
“Chocolate is in progress!”
We liked this “prayer for peace” around the world by a woman selling homemade goods at the Saturday Market.
The symmetry of these flowers with the “design” store was a pretty sight on our street, the Corso Vannucci.
The driver of this car was likely nervous, as we stood a little ways above him to watch exactly how he was going to get out of this precarious parking space. As you can see on the insets, he did it, but it was VERY slow and cautious…and the road was extremely bumpy!
The wind was blowing these balloons all the way to the ground. Walking around for two days, we did note that almost every child was carrying one of the balloons, very happily.