Perugia has the honor of being the capital of the Umbria region and province of Umbria. Perugia is located in the middle of the country, roughly equidistant from Florence and Rome, in a hilltop area surrounded by valleys and mountains.
During Italy’s Etruscan era, Perugia was one of the major cities that prospered because of its central location. During the Middle Ages, Perugia became and established a university town and was known for its dedication to art and culture. Today, the city still maintains this tradition and hosts many festivals and events, such as the Umbria Jazz Festival.
When you visit Perugia, you’ll find countless ornate churches and historic buildings, as well as amazing museums and attractions, such as the Perugia Chocolate Factory. Plus, the surrounding countryside is filled with stunning scenery and a wealth of national parks to satisfy those who love the great outdoors. As a tourist destination, Perugia really has a lot to offer, and its combination of historical and natural attractions will keep you entertained for days on end.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Perugia:
1. Church of San Lorenzo
There are several notable cathedrals still unfinished throughout Italy, and Perugia is one of them.
The cathedral was built in 1587 and is unique in that its facade does not face the main square on which it is located.
The front façade is an unfinished wall, which gives the church an odd appearance.
However, the interior of the church is fully finished and richly decorated.
Several marble columns support an ornate ceiling filled with beautiful frescoes.
In addition, one of the chapels contains the tomb of Pope Martin IV and several religious relics belonging to Popes Innocent III and Urban IV. Finally, the cathedral also houses a small museum with an interesting collection of religious artifacts and artifacts.
2. November 4th Square
Piazza IV Novembre is the main square in the center of Perugia, with many wonderful historic buildings and the beautiful Fountain Maggiore.
In this fine square you can see the impressive Cathedral of Perugia, the Palazzo Transcendental, the city of Perugia and the Logge di Braccio.
At the center of the square is the Fontana Maggiore, with a series of ornate statues and a central bronze bowl sprinkled with water.
This charming square is a great place to admire some of the historic buildings or as a base to start a walking tour of Perugia.
3. Transcendental Palace
Designed in flamboyant Gothic style, Palazzo dei Priori is a massive building located opposite the Cathedral in Piazza dei Novi.
This ancient building has stood in the heart of the city since the 1300s and played an important role in Perugia’s politics.
At the front of the structure is a large circular staircase and a series of ornate arched windows; the top of the palace is lined with serrations, making it look more like a castle.
The palace is richly decorated, including colorful frescoes depicting various biblical scenes.
4. San Bernardino Oratorio
The San Bernardino Oratorio adjoins the Church of San Francisco, known for its splendid front façade and multi-colored design.
This magnificent building is located in the east of the old town, about a 10-minute walk from Plaza de Novo IV.
It is considered the most important example of Renaissance art in Perugia due to its façade made of polychrome marble.
The interior of this delightful oratorio is equally decorative, with several fine artworks and plenty of gold trim.
5. St. Peter’s Church
This ancient complex of churches and monasteries has existed since the 11th century, and for many years it was an important place of power for Perugia’s leaders.
The complex is located to the south of the town centre and features a tall clock tower and a beautiful inner courtyard with a small fountain.
The church houses an important art collection, including colorful frescoes of St. George and the Dragon, and other works by Renaissance artists.
The walls, arches and ceilings are covered with beautiful decorations that are amazing.
6. Archaeological Museum
This delightful museum is located in Piazza Bruno, Giordano, in an old convent in San Domenico.
The museum was redesigned in 2009, taking a chronological approach from the prehistoric era, continuing through the Roman period, etc.
In separate collections you can find a fine collection of artifacts from the province of Umbria, including Neolithic ceramics, Bronze Age carvings, Perugia weapons and funerary objects, and a collection of Roman manuscripts.
Also, this is a reconstruction of an ancient Etruscan tomb found outside the city.
This museum really provides a fantastic understanding of Umbrian history in a detailed way.
7. Augusto Arch
Also known as the Etruscan Arch, this building is one of the remaining 7 arches that served as the entrance to the city of Perugia over the centuries.
Built in the 3rd century BC, the arch is one of the oldest structures in the city and is considered the best surviving example of the city’s original fortifications.
The front façade of the arch has a charming design, and some of the original Latin editions are still visible today.
Various other aspects have been added to the arch over the years, and it now looks more like a fort than a portal.
8. Siri Tower
Located on Via Priori, this magnificent tower is one of the tallest in the city.
Built in the 12th century, the tower is 46m high and belongs to the Sciri family.
As the only antique tower remaining in its original state, the building is of great importance and is a fine example of architecture from this period.
The tower, although simple in design, is domineering and offers a wonderful panoramic view of Perugia from the top.
9. Etruscan Wells
Perugia is full of unique and interesting sights, and the Etruscan wells are one of them.
Located in Piazza Danti, the well dates back to the 3rd or 4th century BC and is a marvel of architectural genius.
The massive well is 37m deep and 5m in diameter, with a gorgeous bridge spanning the middle and the vast area below.
It is possible to go straight to the bottom of the well to really get a sense of its size proportions, and as you walk through the city center, a visit to this fascinating place is a must.
10. Perugina Chocolate Factory
There are some famous chocolate brands in Italy, and Baci Perugina is nationally known for its spectacular chocolate kisses.
The Perugina Chocolate Factory, just outside the city center, offers a great alternative attraction, perfect for all families, especially those with a sweet tooth! A tour of the factory takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, during which you will see the production line in action, sample some mouthwatering chocolates at a tasting session, and spend time in the historical museum.
Of course there is also a gift shop where you can buy your own weight of chocolate if you wish!
11. Volumni Hypogeum
Another unique attraction outside the historic city center, the Volumni Hypogeum is an extraordinary place.
Discovered in 1840, the tomb dates back to the 3rd century BC and is part of a huge necropolis containing more than 200 separate burials.
This series of tombs was dedicated to the Volumni family, which contained many of the wealthy elite from Perugia over the centuries.
What makes this complex so special is its design and construction – the building looks more like an ancient Roman building with lots of fences, gables and ornate columns.
12. Parco Regionale del Lago Trasimeno
This huge water and regional park is located west of Perugia, about 25 minutes’ drive away.
At 128 square kilometers, it is one of the largest lakes in the region and is actually the fourth largest lake in Italy.
The lake is surrounded by a series of charming coastal towns.
In addition, boat tours are available in protected waters.
At the southern end of the lake is the interesting Isola Polvese – here you will find a beautiful stone castle and an interesting tourist information center.
13. Parco Naturale di Monte Tezio
To the north of Perugia is the massive Tezio Mountain and its surrounding natural park.
At 961m, the mountain is one of the highest peaks in the region, and its slopes are covered with verdant forests.
If you are looking for a place to hike and experience the beautiful outdoors in the Umbria region, this natural park is the place for you.
The side of the hill offers amazing views of the landscape, with many different sites at the top, such as a radio station and the old ruins of some farmhouses.
On a clear day, you can also enjoy great views of Perugia below.
14. Montevibiano Wine Tour.
Perugia is surrounded by some wonderful countryside, and this region of Italy is known for producing great wines.
The Monte Vibiano winery is a great place to visit, and a wonderful eco tour gives you the chance to explore the vineyards and taste some delicious wines.
During the tour, you will drive an electric vehicle through the complex and watch the daily operations of the winery, such as grape picking, olive picking and the actual making of wine.
The owner of the winery is very friendly and will make sure your trip is personal and memorable.
15. Via dell’Acquedotto
This ancient trail was once an aqueduct that transported fresh water through the city of Perugia, and now it is a public walkway.
From the edge of Via Cesare Battisti all the way to the Abbey of San Benedetto, you can walk along the aqueduct.
This wonderful path offers you a different view, passing between the historic buildings in the heart of the old town and seeing the original ornate aqueduct arches.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Perugia, Italy
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