The Medieval City
At the heart of Italy lies the capital of Umbria: Perugia. With its old, sand-washed buildings perching atop two hills, this vibrant medieval hill town brims with an almost storybook-like charm. Glancing at the sloping steps, sweeping arches, open squares and the snaking cobbled streets, it's almost as if this setting had been created by the very pen of Shakespeare himself. Perugia rolls in romance. At its heart is the Piazza IV Novembre, an open square with the grand Maggiore fountain pinpointing its centre. From its carefully carved panels illustrating fables and mythical beasts to its pink and white stone finish, it makes for an intriguing starting point to this relatively tourist-free town.
Why should I choose Perugia for my year abroad?
It's a beautiful, cobbled, medieval town filled with tradition and students! A few churches are dotted about Perugia, but one not to miss is the Romanesque Chiesa di Sant'Angelo
, one of Italy's oldest churches, built on some say Roman structures. Art fans and historians will be overjoyed to hear that Umbria most extensive art gallery is based right here, in Perugia. The Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria has a whopping 30 rooms, showing artwork dating back to the Byzantine Empire, with some pieces by Perugia's own 'homies', Pinturicchio and Perugino. The Medieval Gardens are also well worth a visit too, quite fantastic and surreal in its own right.
Food is also big in this part of the country (isn't it always in Italy
?) and you'd be barmy to not try the local delicacy, la porchetta
, a hefty pig seasoned with sage or rosemary, spit-roasted for a few hours until the meat falls off the carcass. Chocolate and all things sweet have a special place in Perugia; chocoholics out there will be ecstatic to come the annual Festival del Cioccolato
in October. You can try the likes of lavender chocolate and cocoa pasta, and if you'd like to walk off the extra calories, you can explore the myriad of tunnels under the city with each chamber dedicated to a different chocolatier
, from Lindt to local specialities. There's even a factory dedicated to cocoa that opens its doors for the Charlie fans out there: the Perugina Chocolate Factory, creators of the delicious Baci kisses, will tell you all there is to know about the business and you'll be able to taste their creations!
Perugia is rather well known for its many educational institutions, with a special mention to the Università per Stranieri, which is a popular language school for international students who wish to make a start or brush up on their Italian! The nightlife ticks the boxes, with loads to do and see, and make sure you don't miss out on the annual Jazz Festival over the summer! Picturesque Perugia is a real gem of a city for any year abroader, offering loads to do in a fantastic setting!