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Perugia was an Etruscan settlement between 6th-1st century BC, falling to the Romans in 40 BC. The quantity and quality of remains from these periods is impressive, particularly the ancient walls and gates to the city, many of which remain intact. Another of its charms is its size: the historic centre is small enough to walk around in half a day – though, add in all the galleries and museums of note, and you have enough to keep you busy for a long weekend. Ask at the tourist office for a leaflet detailing walking itineraries around the city.
One of Perugia’s charms is the merging of ancient and modern, for example, here you can walk under giant stone arches constructed 2,000 years ago or shop in a modern department store. The city offer a wide array of museums, so take some time to discover a few of them.
Hearty recipes involving pork (try porchetta alla perugina/roast sucking pig), olive oil, truffles and great pasta dishes are the hallmarks of Umbrian cuisine. Perugia is full of restaurants, many of them so small that reservations are essential. The snack of choice in Perugia is pizza – all over town there are tiny takeaway pizzerias serving pizza by the slice.
With Perugia’s large student population, you’re guaranteed to find lively bars throughout the historic city. Many bars are open all day, coming into their own in the evening, for the all-important aperitivo time, which kicks off from around 6pm. Cafés, bars, ‘disco-pubs’ and discos are all popular haunts for Perugians. From chic to cheap, and trendy to traditional, if you plan it well, you can start the evening at 5pm and finish at 5am the next day. Larger discos tend to be located outside the city.
Perugia has many fashion and shoe stores, including some well-known designer names. As a university town, it’s also no surprise that Perugia has some good book stores: even if you’re not buying, Italian book stores are great for browsing.
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