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Italy’s best-preserved medieval town, Perugia.
Italy’s best-preserved medieval town, Perugia.
Catriona sightseeing in Perugia.
The buzz of Perugia.


Thursday, October 5, 2000
Explore a town similar to those of Tuscany, but without all the tourists, making it an appealing alternative. You'll enjoy Perugia's Renaissance charm and the buzzy and lively feel it has to offer.

Umbria is very similar to Tuscany, but for some reason it doesn’t attract the same numbers of tourists, making it an appealing alternative. Sitting between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas, it is known as the green heart of Italy, rich in olive groves and vineyards. The Tiber River flows through its capital Perugia, making it very fertile, a perfect environment for all kinds of plant and animal life.

Perugia is an Etruscan hill settlement, more than 2500 years old, Italy’s best-preserved medieval town, maintaining much of its Gothic and Renaissance charm. The old centre of the city remains almost untouched. Any new building has taken place outside the city walls.

It is a city of universities and academics, attracting a vibrant, young international crowd who give Perugia a buzzy, lively feeling. Students come from every corner of the globe to learn the romantic Italian language and enjoy la dolce vita.

Piazza IV Novembre is the old city’s main square featuring a grand fountain which was built by a local monk in the 13th century. Most attractions open onto the Piazza or are a short distance away. The 15th-century Collegio di Cambio is where the money changers and bankers met regularly; they commissioned Il Peregino to create the work of art that it is. His assistant was a young boy named Raphael who became one of the country’s greatest Renaissance painters.

The narrow streets are uncrowded by cars. Tourists can only drive to their hotel, so exploring is more relaxed than in most Italian cities.

What used to be houses in Perugia’s elite residential streets are now antique markets and the place to shop is Corso Vanncucci. This is where locals practice passeggiata, which is strolling after lunch or dinner, just taking in the atmosphere. The town is most proud of being the keepers of the Virgin Mary’s wedding ring, something they took from Chiusi in the Middle Ages. It is kept secure at the Capella del Santo Anello inside the duomo.

Perugia was once home to a sect called the Flagellants who whipped themselves for their sins. Perhaps the worst sin committed these days is over-indulging in the famous local chocolate product, Baci, Italian for "kiss". These beautifully-wrapped chocolate and hazelnut morsels are devoured worldwide. You can go to via Sisto 207 to see where they are made.

Nightlife is varied; there are lots of bars in little dungeon-like rooms. The fun picks up at about 2am and is usually still going at 9am. The Shamrock and M8 are two of the town’s popular places, but the party makers tend to move from place to place.

When thinking of accommodation in Umbria, a farmhouse is a terrific option. Casa Campaneschi is near Spoleto, an easy one-hour drive south-east of Perugia. The walled courtyard is filled with flowers and it's comfortably furnished and decorated with antiques and paintings. You can feel the age in the brick and stone walls. The small, arched castle-style windows give beautiful views and keep out the burning midday heat. The kitchen is old-fashioned but practical, decorated with antique pots and pans and brassware. The house sleeps four to six people, though the gallery bedrooms are reached by narrow steps with low balustrades, not really suitable for small children or elderly people. There is a pool, which is shared with the owners of the farmhouse.


The geographical heart of Italy.


Qantas is offering an exclusive fare to Rome for Getaway viewers. Return economy airfares are $1399 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth for departures between January 20 and February 20, 2001. The sale ends at 5pm EST October 12, 2000. Conditions apply. See your licensed or AFTA Travel Agent, Qantas Travel Centre or call Qantas on the Getaway hotline: 13 22 23.
Cottages and Castles have farmhouses throughout Umbria, starting at $600 per week.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Qantas: 13 22 23
Italian Government Tourist Office:
Ph: (02) 9262 2000
Fax: (02) 9262 1677
Cottages and Castles
Ph: (03) 9853 1142
Fax: (03) 9853 0509

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