Elegant and infused with history, architecture and art, Perugia is a very well preserved medieval hill town with amazing views from various places as well as being very much a modern city with lots to see and do throughout the year. Corso Vanucci, the main street in the old town, is lined with shops and restaurants and leads to the grand Piazza IV Novembre, which is surrounded by the splendid Palazzo dei Priori and the San Lorenzo Cathedral. Before you leave, don't forget to buy some 'Baci' chocolates which are made in Perugia!
Visit the villages and towns surrounding Lake Trasimeno
The villages and towns surrounding the lake all possess their own character and delights. Castiglione del Lago is the main town of the area, dating back to Etruscan times and classed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Built on a small peninsula on the western shore, the old town is still completely surrounded by the original walls. The Palazzo della Corgna is a beautiful building, now the town hall, with a vast fresco inside. Linked to the Palazzo by a covered walkway, the Rocca del Leone fortress is a fine example of medieval military architecture, and in the 1500s it was considered to be one of the most difficult European castles to take by storm!
The superb 'Museo dell Accademia Etrusca' in Cortona traces the Etruscan past of this area; the Galleria Nazionale Umbria in Perugia has one of the great picture collections in central Italy (especially 14th to 17th century); and the Sansepolcro 'Museo Civico' proudly houses Piero della Francesca’s famous pieces: ‘Resurrection’ and ‘The Madonna of the Misericordia’.
The hilltop town of Cortona
is lovely to wander around and although it can get quite busy, it is definitely worth a visit – steep cobbled streets lined with art galleries, boutiques, cafés and gelaterie (ice cream shops). For far-reaching views, head up the hill to the Fortezza Medicea, which was built for the Medicis. On the way back down, seek out the Vicolo Jannelli, a little street with some of the oldest surviving houses in Italy.
The local market
The local market is not only great for stocking up on fresh produce for delicious meals, but also a wonderful place to soak up the atmosphere, mingle with the locals and try out a few phrases in Italian. Umbertide’s main market is on Wednesday morning, from Piazza Matteotti to Piazza Caduti del Lavoro, on the western edge of town. There is also a small Saturday market in the main town square of crafts and artisan food products.
If you feel like being pampered, why not book a beauty treatment or massage at one of the spa centres in the Cortona area.
Chocolate in Perugia
Whilst in Perugia, don’t forget to try the famous ‘Baci’ chocolates made by local firm, Perugina. True chocaholics may like to visit the firm’s premises, the Casa del Cioccolato. In the museum visitors learn about the history of the company and about how a cocoa bean is transformed into chocolate, then moving on to the factory there is a glimpse at the workshop and the production line.
The kids will enjoy making a splash in the various pools and slides at the Aquapark Azzurra Piscine at Tavernelle near Lake Trasimeno. Open from June to 1st September. www.tavernelle.azzurrapiscine.it
A great family day out
The Città della Domenica is an animal and amusement park occupying 100 acres on a hillside overlooking Perugia. There is plenty of parkland to roam, or to view from the comfort of the little train. Animals include kangaroos, ostriches, llamas, donkeys and many birds. In the farm area, children can get hands on and help to milk the cows! There are also themed areas such as Pinocchio’s Village and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, a Medieval zone, a space shuttle and the Wild West. A programme of activities and shows runs each day. Other attractions include mini-karts, mini-boats, slides, a maze and inflatable play area.
Find numerous walking and biking trails in the surrounding hills, fish on the Tiber River, enjoy a round of golf at the Antognolla golf club (15km) or take a trip to Lake Trasimeno for swimming, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.
Take a boat trip
Travel by boat to the peaceful island community of Isola Maggiore. Explore the old town and hills while passing through the olive groves to cross the only inhabited island around the Lake.
Day out in Gubbio
The town of Gubbio is easily accessible from the house with lots to offer in terms of art and culture. The town is rich in art and beauty where history, art and culture all merge together as one. Visit some of the many historical centres and divulge into the medieval history of the town.
Take a trip over the Tuscan border
Situated close to the Tuscan border means the chance to visit some of the best areas in Tuscany. Visit some of the landmark towns such as Siena, Montepulciano, Arezzo and Cortona within an hour’s drive
A day out in Città di Castello
Visit the 'brick city' and see the many medieval monuments. See some of the silvered altarpieces, a Madonna by Pinturicchio and Angels by Giulio Romano.
Festival dei Due Mondi
The Festival of Two Worlds takes place in Spoleto which is a cultural event which takes place in late June to early July. Join in the three week festival of music, theatre and dance performances.
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