Perugia, Italy has some of the “best” of the best of all of Italy for me ~ it has incredible natural beauty, medieval city, wonderful food, and GREAT people. When I crave true Italy, I think of Perugia. This past fall, I visited Perugia again, making it my THIRD VISIT IN A YEAR! Yes, I love it!
Of course, you’ve all heard about Rome, Sicily and of course, Tuscany. In my circles, Cinque Terre is a “must-see.” All of these are great destinations and “absolutes” on just about everybody’s travel check list for Italy. They are all great in their own way – for sure, but for this off-the-beaten path travel chic Perugia and Umbria are IT(Italy!) This lesser-known, land-locked region of Italy is often overlooked and I’m not quite sure why ~ here are a few reasons I will continue to call Perugia, my Italian home.
Last year when we visited Perugia our group hiked in the Umbrian countryside with Paolo, the tour guide from Guide in Umbria. Paolo walked us through ancient Roman ruins and Etruscan valleys with olive groves and vineyards everywhere. I haven’t even mentioned the WINE yet!
2. Medieval City
The underground city of Perugia is amazing. Our tour guide Valentina, also with Guides in Umbria, walked us through the dark corridors and alleys of this medieval Roman village under the city. It was fascinating to learn about this medieval village that existed from day to day with regular chores all kept safe and sound under the streets of Perugia. The week we were touring they had an artist fair and it was so interesting to see the variety of local sculptors, painters, musicians and jewelry makers all in the underground village. We could have spent hours shopping.
However, onward we go…Perugia has a market every weekend and my travelers LOVE markets! Whether it is flea markets or farmers markets we are always intrigued by what’s for sale ~ “Somebody’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?” After strolling through the market in Piazza Italia and looking for gems we took a stroll to the park to see the beautiful panoramic views of the city. Follow the trail that overlooks the valley for miles – I could almost imagine what it was like standing here during the ancient Roman times in this walled city.
With much of the architecture and buildings still being the beige and tan Subasio limestone the Romans were famous for, you can see why the landscape is breathtaking and understand that history runs deep here. A city worth fighting for during the Perugian war in 41 B.C. – Marc Anthony surrendered here and was the site of many wars between Rome for several years.
A Pontification city, many Popes have called Perugia home for hundreds of years. You can still feel the overwhelming presence of the church as you walk through the city – especially in the National Gallery which is a collection of medieval castles that house art, religious artifacts, relics and more.
If you would like a complete tour of Perugia ~ which I would recommend, check into booking with Valentina and Guide in Umbria. She was fantastic and was very detailed and I felt like I learned a lot about Perugia in just one afternoon. She also stops for gelato ~ who doesn’t love that?
3. Perugina Chocolate
The story of Perugina chocolate is really interesting. I love chocolate! There isn’t a chocolate that I haven’t enjoyed, Italian chocolate is no exception. The history behind this wonderful confectionery begins with Luisa Spagnoli. Born in Perugia in 1877 and married grocer and businessman, Annibale Spagnoli. In their grocery store, she made and sold chocolates. By 1907, she opened up a factory with several partners and had 15 employees. She was an amazing woman with many talents and an eclectic entrepreneur. She created a clothing line as well as many others side businesses ~ hmmm – soul sister?
Although we didn’t make it to the Perugian Chocolate Factory Tour we were able to buy a few chocolates to share back home!
I was originally introduced to great Perugian food by Raffaela Bucefalo. My friend and business owner of Let’s Cook in Umbria, Cooking School and Agriturismo. Raffa and I became quick friends, I’ve brought three groups here over the last year and will bring a few more back in 2018. Her personality and warm hospitality greet you from the start. Raffa helped organize all our excursions and tours around Perugia as well ~ she’s a keeper, I tell ya! Able to answer any Perugian question you may have she is invaluable.
For more information on what it is like to attend Raffa’s cooking school check out my blog on Cooking in Italy or click her link on my site. As you can see, I just can’t get enough.
More good EATS!!
This year, as we arrived in Perugia for dinner, she recommended visiting La Taverna ~ one of the best restaurants in all Perugia. Meeting Chef Claudio Brugalossi was a treat, he stopped over at our table and introduced himself, charming and sweet, for sure. I had to get a selfie with him, of course. Our food and service were impeccable, server Laurie, recommended wonderful wines to pair with our regional and delicious meals.
With this group we had so much fun swapping and sharing all our meals ~ so glad! The favorite was the spinach-basil ravioli but I think we all enjoyed everything we had from beginning to end.
La Taverna has an interior that is cave-like and looks similar to the architecture and structures that mirror all of Perugia. Very cool!
I’ve only been back for a few weeks and am already craving my Perugian dishes. Almost everyone who went on this last trip have recreated our wonderful taught dishes. It’s infectious I tell you and you leave educated, blessed and if I do say so ~ a little Italian!
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
Save the dates ~ COOKING IN ITALY TRIPS 2018
May 9 – 13, 2018
September 26 – 30, 2018
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