Housed in the Palazzo dei Priori, the gallery has an extensive collection of art, both Umbrian and national, from the 13th through to the 19th centuries. There is a sizeable collection of work by the local painter, Pietro Vannucci, who was more commonly called Perugino.
This is a beautiful medieval structure, first built at the end of the 13th century, and the subject of many additions and alterations over the years. Head up the stairs in Piazza IV Novembre and into the Sala dei Notari – completely covered in allegorical and biblical frescoes that date from the 13th century. Entering the palazzo from Corso Vannucci takes you to the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria and to two further rooms: the Collegio della Mercanzia and the Collegio del Cambio. The Collegio della Mercanzia is beautifully panelled in wood, probably done by German craftsmen in the 15th century. The Collegio del Cambio has two rooms, the second with stunning late 15th century frescoes by Perugino.
Piazza IV Novembre was the main square of the Etruscan city, and the Roman Forum. In medieval Perugia, it was the point at which the five principal roads crossed and even today it is at the heart of Perugia. As an open-air venue it can’t be beaten: in the summer, thousands of people gather here to enjoy the Umbria Jazz Festival.
Built in honour of Saint Bernadino of Siena, this tiny church has a very pretty façade. Aqua, rose and white in colour, with sculpture and bas-reliefs, the façade was finished in 1461. The interior has been modernised, though have a look at the altar– it’s made from a 4th-century sarcophagus and contains the remains of Beato Egidio, one of St Francis of Assisi’s friars.
The 11th century church of San Severo (Cappella di San Severo) was built on the site of a pagan temple. Rebuilt in the 18th century, it is noteworthy for the fresco in its 14th century chapel: the upper part is by the great Renaissance painter Raphael, the lower part by Perugino.
This fort was built in the mid 16th century as a symbol of the Papal domination of Perugia. Pope Paul III had his architect raze an entire area of the city – 100 houses, churches and monasteries disappeared, and the massive fortress was built in their place. Mostly destroyed by the citizens of Perugia in 1860, you can enter the foundations of the fortress from Porta Marzia, or ride the escalator up from the car-park at Piazza Partigiani.
The Church of San Pietro is a beautiful Benedictine abbey, originally founded in the 10th century. The church has some fine 15th and 16th century architecture, a good collection of Renaissance art, including frescoes and paintings by Raphael, Vasari, Vassillacchi, Perugino and Parmigiano and possibly the best wooden choir (16th century) in Italy.
The principal shopping street in Perugia is the wide, pedestrianised Corso Vannucci, along with the streets that run off it and parallel to it: Piazza Matteotti, Via C. Fani, Via Baglioni and Via Oberdan. Perugia in general and Corso Vannucci in particular, have many fashion and shoe stores, including some well-known designer names like Max Mara. Pick up some lingerie at Intimissimi – an Italian chain – or try Calzedonia for smalls and funky, well-priced tights.
Located in Perugia since 1960, this retail shop offers some painted ceramics which will make as a great souvenir to bring back home. The beautiful collection on display are inspired by the Italian Renaissance and if you wish personalized items can also be made upon request.
The international airport of Umbria – Perugia “San Francesco d’Assisi”, lies in the tiny town Sant’Egidio, about 12 km from Perugia city. There is a bus stop just outside the terminal and from here you can take bus number E007 or E422 (Umbria Mobilità) to Perugia. If you choose to buy the ticket on board the bus you must have the exact change. There is also a shuttle bus service (ACAP-SULGA) running according to airline departure and arrival times. The trip takes about 20 minutes.
The historic heart of Perugia is made for walking, though expect to go uphill and downhill regularly. If you need a bus, most buses stop at Piazza Italia, where there’s an information kiosk where you can also buy tickets. Tickets are valid 70 minutes within the city. Do not forget to validate your ticket upon boarding. Different prices apply if you’re taking a bus out of town. The main bus station is at Piazza Partigiani.