A world where Italy exists is a world of happiness. The land of pizza and vino has a thousand ways to fill you with joy, amazement, and satisfaction. And while Rome and Venice are undoubtedly must-visit destinations, there are plenty of other hidden gems to discover, like the underrated city of Perugia.
Right in the middle of Italy, Perugia is a province that screams history and oozes culture. It’s got those charming cobblestone streets, buildings older than the hills, and a vibe that’ll make you feel like a local in no time.
Your Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Perugia, Italy
As the capital of Umbria, Perugia boasts a unique blend of medieval splendour, artistic heritage, and delectable cuisine. Here are four essential things to do in Perugia, Italy.
Indulge in Italian Bliss
In the heart of Italy, where the sun-soaked fields meet ancient cobblestones, Perugia’s culinary scene is a feast for the senses. You’d be barmy not to dive into the local dishes that define the region’s gastronomic prowess. Here’s a delightful roundup of what you should indulge in while gallivanting through this Italian gem.
Torta al Testo
A marvel of simplicity, this flatbread is cooked on a stone or “testo” and is often filled with mouthwatering combinations like prosciutto, arugula, and stracchino cheese. Best savoured at the rustic Trattoria di Via Appia, where the Testo’s crispy perfection will have you saying ‘Bellissimo’ with every bite. This charming, family-run place will take you on a culinary journey through the region’s traditional fare.
Imagine fat, hand-rolled noodles smothered in a luscious truffle sauce. The pasta itself is a hearty combination of flour and water, crafted lovingly to create a satisfyingly chewy texture. It’s the perfect canvas for the rich, earthy flavours of the truffle sauce, creating a harmonious symphony of taste. Pair it with a glass of local red, and you’re in culinary heaven.
Trattoria Bruno is where you want to be for this tasty delight, as they’ve mastered the art of truffle wizardry. Bruno and his team take pride in crafting dishes that celebrate the region’s culinary heritage, ensuring every meal feels like a family gathering in Nonna’s kitchen.
Succulent, tender, and oh-so-flavorful, porchetta is roast pork at its finest. Try it at Antica Salumeria Gombitelli, where they’ve been perfecting the art of porchetta for decades. A generous slice of this heavenly pork served in a crusty roll, is a real treat.
Pappardelle al Cinghiale
This dish features broad ribbons of pasta, typically dressed with a rich wild boar ragù. For a taste of tradition, head to Osteria a Priori. Their authentic approach to Italian cuisine is a knockout, and this dish is no exception.
Chocoholics, rejoice! Perugia is the birthplace of Perugina, and you’d be off your trolley not to savour some delectable chocolate. Perugina Casa del Cioccolato is an interactive museum and a tasting room where you can learn about the chocolate-making process and savour their exquisite creations.
Perugina offers a wide range of chocolate products, including pralines, chocolate bars, and truffles. Their artisanal approach to chocolate-making ensures a rich and luxurious taste. The most famous product from Perugina is the “Baci” chocolate. These are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts with a romantic twist. Each one comes with a love note in multiple languages, making it a delightful gift for loved ones.
Let’s not forget the sweet side of life! Gelato in Perugia is nothing short of an art form. Grom Gelato serves up some of the creamiest gelato you’ll ever taste, with flavours that will give you a completely fresh start. You’ll want to try every flavour.
If you’re a tippler, this traditional Italian dessert wine should be on your radar. Head over to Enoteca Properzio to sip on this sweet nectar. It’s the perfect finale for a sumptuous Italian meal. Vin Santo is known for its sweet, honeyed, and nutty flavours. It often has a deep amber or golden colour, and its sweetness can range from moderately sweet to intensely sweet, depending on the producer and the region.
Vin Santo, which translates to “Holy Wine,” has several possible origins, with one theory being that it was traditionally used for religious purposes. It’s typically made from white grape varieties like Trebbiano and Malvasia. These grapes are left to dry in a warm, ventilated room after harvest. This drying process concentrates the sugars and flavours in the grapes.
The dried grapes are pressed, and the juice is then fermented slowly and naturally. The fermentation process is often quite lengthy, sometimes taking several years, which is one reason for its sweetness. The wine is aged in small wooden barrels, often chestnut or oak, for a minimum of three years, but many are aged much longer.
Swipe Your Credit Card With Zero Regrets
Shopping in Perugia is a delightful experience that seamlessly combines the city’s rich history with modern-day trends. The historic centre is a labyrinth of quaint boutiques where you can uncover artisanal treasures and unique souvenirs. As you stroll through its charming streets, you’ll find boutiques offering handcrafted leather goods, ceramics, and jewellery.
For a truly authentic shopping experience, visit the local markets. The Mercato Coperto, a covered market, offers fresh produce and regional delights. You can sample a variety of local cheeses, cured meats, and truffle-based products that make for great gifts or personal indulgence.
The Antiques Market, held every third weekend of the month, is a treasure trove for collectors, with a diverse array of items from vintage jewellery to antique furniture. If you’re in search of art-related keepsakes, the Bottega del Tintoretto is the place to go.
This art supply store, housed in a 16th-century building, offers everything an artist’s heart desires, from pigments to brushes. You can find unique watercolour palettes and sketchbooks, ensuring your artistic exploration of Perugia extends well beyond your visit.
One of the standout souvenir options is a locally crafted leather item. Perugia boasts a long-standing tradition of leather craftsmanship. You can acquire beautifully made leather bags, belts, or gloves, and these items are not just tokens of your trip but long-lasting fashion statements.
Explore the City’s Prominent Attractions
When it comes to things to do in Perugia, Italy, you’re in for a treat that blends the rich tapestry of history with the vibrant hues of contemporary life. This enchanting city invites you to explore its cultural treasures and historical landmarks. Here’s Connolly Cove’s list of Perugia’s top attractions:
The Historic Centre
Perugia’s historic centre is a living tapestry of history, where every cobbled alley and soaring medieval arch tells a story. As you wander through this captivating labyrinth, you’ll encounter architectural wonders like the imposing Palazzo dei Priori and the intricate details of the Fontana Maggiore. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history by visiting the National Archaeological Museum, home to Etruscan and Roman relics that shed light on Perugia’s ancient past.
But it’s not all about looking back; the heart of Perugia buzzes with life. Piazza IV Novembre, the central square, serves as a lively hub where you can sip espresso at open-air cafes, savour a scoop of gelato, and enjoy the vibrant street performances.
Perugia’s historic centre is also renowned for its gastronomic scene, with traditional osterias offering local delights like torta al testo and umbricelli pasta. It’s a place where you can explore the treasures of the past while indulging in the pleasures of the present, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and food enthusiasts alike.
Rocca Paolina is a living testament to Perugia’s dynamic history, where the past and present converge. This imposing fortress, constructed in the 16th century on the site of a demolished medieval neighbourhood, offers visitors a glimpse into the city’s layered heritage. Upon entering the Rocca’s underground passages, you’ll be transported back in time as you wander through its eerie labyrinth of tunnels and chambers. It’s like stepping into the annals of history.
From the panoramic terrace atop the fortress, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Perugia’s red-tiled rooftops and rolling green hills. The Rocca also houses fascinating exhibitions, capturing the essence of Perugia’s story. It’s not just a historical site; it’s a place where the echoes of the past are still very much alive and where you can immerse yourself in the city’s vivid narrative.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Perugia is a mesmerising testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. As you step inside, your eyes will be drawn to the stunning Gothic interior, with its grand nave and intricate stained glass windows that bathe the space in a kaleidoscope of colours.
It’s not just a feast for the eyes; the cathedral also houses a wealth of art and historical artefacts. Marvel at the beautiful frescoes and admire the sculptures that adorn the chapel. Alongside sightseeing, you can also soak in the serene atmosphere and perhaps attend a musical performance if one is taking place. The Cathedral frequently hosts concerts, which allow you to experience the ethereal acoustics that fill the sacred space.
Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria
When searching for things to do in Perugia, Italy, the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria is a cultural gem that demands your attention. This art museum, situated in the heart of Perugia, is a captivating journey through the region’s artistic heritage. Here, you can immerse yourself in a world of masterpieces, including works by brilliant Italian artists like Perugino and Pinturicchio.
The collection spans centuries and styles, offering a vivid portrayal of the evolution of Italian art. As you wander through the grand halls, you’ll be enchanted by intricate frescoes, religious paintings, and sculptures that whisper stories of bygone eras.
The museum not only showcases the artistic genius of Umbria but also offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of this captivating Italian region. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply in search of cultural enrichment, the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria is an absolute must-visit during your stay in Perugia.
Visiting the Fontana Maggiore is a must on your list of things to do in Perugia, Italy. This exquisite medieval fountain is a masterpiece of art and engineering, located in the heart of the city’s historic centre.
As you approach the fountain, you’ll be awestruck by the intricately carved sculptures and bas-reliefs that adorn its two circular basins. The sculptures depict biblical scenes, zodiac signs, and mythological figures, offering a fascinating insight into the mindset of their creators. You can sit by the fountain, enjoying the soothing sound of flowing water, and take in the surrounding views. It’s a popular spot to relax, chat with friends, or simply people-watch.
The Etruscan Well, or “Pozzo Etrusco”, is a mesmerising relic that will transport you back in time, revealing a facet of Perugia’s history that’s both mysterious and captivating. This remarkable well, carved into the rock beneath the city, offers a unique insight into Etruscan engineering and architecture. As you descend into its depths, you’ll marvel at the double helix staircase.
Exploring this subterranean wonder is a must when considering things to do in Perugia, Italy. You’ll find yourself retracing the footsteps of the Etruscans, and as you touch the cold stone walls, you can’t help but wonder about the stories hidden within. It’s a fantastic experience that combines history, intrigue, and a touch of adventure, making it an unmissable stop in the heart of Perugia.
Enjoy the Festive Seasons
Perugia is a city that knows how to celebrate life, and its calendar is sprinkled with festivals and celebrations that are as diverse as they are vibrant. Let’s take a tour through the annual festivities that make Perugia a place of joy and cultural immersion throughout the year.
Umbria Jazz Festival (July)
The summer air in Perugia becomes melodious during the Umbria Jazz Festival. This world-renowned event, held every July, attracts top-notch jazz artists from around the globe. The streets come alive with music, and the city’s historic venues become stages for captivating performances. Jazz enthusiasts can revel in the smooth rhythms and soulful tunes, while casual observers find themselves swaying to the beat of the city.
Chocolate lovers, you are in for a real treat! Eurochocolate, celebrated in October, transforms Perugia into a sweet haven. As you stroll the cobblestone streets, you’ll encounter a delectable array of chocolate treats. Whether you’re indulging in velvety truffles or savouring the novelty of chocolate pasta, there’s a sweet surprise around every corner. For tourists, this is a delightful journey for the taste buds and a chance to uncover some of the most imaginative chocolate creations.
Festa dei Ceri (May)
In May, the city pulses with the energy of the Festa dei Ceri. This exhilarating event sees teams racing through the streets, each carrying an enormous wooden candle. It’s a celebration of Perugia’s patron saints and its history. Tourists can join the cheering crowds and witness this awe-inspiring race, an experience that’s as thrilling as it is uniquely Perugian.
Perugia 1416 (June)
June brings Perugia 1416, a festival that vividly re-creates the city’s life and culture in the 15th century. The streets are alive with costumed performers, craftsmen, and musicians. The air is filled with the scent of traditional foods and the sounds of bygone eras. Tourists can savour the essence of Perugia’s history while exploring this living, breathing historical tableau.
Corpus Domini Infiorata (June)
In June, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated with the Corpus Domini Infiorata, a stunning tradition where the city’s streets are adorned with intricate floral designs. Petals, seeds, and natural materials are meticulously arranged into breathtaking works of art. Tourists can witness these exquisite displays and even join in the artistic process during workshops. It’s a celebration that marries art and nature.
Perugia, where history whispers from ancient walls and celebrations fill the air with joy, is a treasure trove of unique experiences. Discover, savour, and cherish the magic of Perugia. After you check it off your bucket list, make sure to consider nearby cities, such as the spectacular Siena or the fabulous Florence, when picking your next destination.