Sights in Perugia, Italy

Perugia is an ancient town which rose to power during the time of the Etruscans.  It was controlled by the Romans and then invaded by the barbarians after the fall of the Roman Empire.  In the 11th century a Free Commune was set up, reaching great power and splendor in the 13th and 14th centuries.  After a period of internal fighting, it fell into obscurity and was conquered in 1540 by Paolo III Farnese.  It remained under the rule of the Church until 1860, when it became a member of the Italian State. 


Today Perugia is a splendid city of art and the capital of the region of Umbria.  It has a very lively city rich in beautiful buildings and monuments.  Perugia is also known for its chocolate called Perugina Baci, a chocolate kiss filled with nougat cream. 


Traffic is a problem in Perugia because cars are not allowed into the city center of the old town which sits high on a hill.  If you can find parking at Piazza Partigiani, there is an elevator from here into the city.  Perugia is well worth a day or two exploration but does not make a great base for visiting other towns because the hassles of having a car.


The Top Sights in Perugia

Collegio del Cambio- This building once housed the medieval Exchange Guild.  In the late 15th century, the Guide commissioned local artist Pietro Vannucci to paint the interior walls.  The result is one of the Italian Renaissances masterpieces.  The artist became known as Perugino and was considered a master of three dimensional perspective.


Duomo San Lorenzo- The city's main cathedral is most famously known for the Chapel of Saint Anello which contains what is said to be the wedding ring of the Virgin Mary.  In medieval times the church would gather such large crowds that a stone pulpit was built outside, this is still standing today.


Etruscan Arch- In the 3rd century BC Perugia was a thriving Etruscan town with a stone wall around the city and seven entrance gates.  Today only one of these arched gates remains.  The bottom stones of the arch date from the Etruscans while the upper columns date from the Romans.


Etruscan Well- Beneath the Palazzo Ranieri di Sorbello is one of the best preserved hydraulic Etruscan wells.  There is a small passageway that brings you down the shaft to the water level some 100 feet below the surface.  The top of the well is in the middle of the Piazza Piccinino.


Maggiore Fountain- This fountain is another treat from the early Renaissance.  There are varying themes to the statues and stone relief that cover the fountain.  These themes are typical of Renaissance humanism including paganism and Christianity, secular and religious, realistic and mythical.  You will find scenes from the Garden of Eden, near signs of the zodiac and statues of local governors. 


Palazzo dei Priori and National Gallery of Umbria- In the main piazza of Perugia (Piazza IV Novembre) is the Palazzo dei Priori.  This important palace which dates from the 13th century once housed the seat of government for all of Umbria.  Umbrians think it is the most beautiful building in Italy.  Today it houses the National Gallery of Umbria.  The gallery contains over 30 rooms of art including pieces by Perugino and Fra Angelico.   


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