A weekend visiting Perugia in Umbria.
A Weekend In Perugia
After spending two weeks studying Italian in Lucca and arriving in Perugia the night before after a four hour journey, waking up this morning was hard. I felt like a highschool kid wanting to sleep in on Saturday morning. Knowing it was my only full day in Perugia, by 9:30am I was up and heading out the door to wander around the city ‘before it got busy’. Well I could have waited because I wouldn’t call this town ‘busy’ (as in a town flooded with tourist busy), at least not on a Saturday morning in September!
Trying to find my way to the old part of the town, I accidently stumbled upon the escalator system which is a series of escalators heading up to the old town. Nearing the top, the escalators take you inside Rocca Paolina, a fortress dating back to 1540, which has been turned into a free museum, which also holds exhibitions. Its main purpose though seems to be as a thoroughfare for people travelling up and down the hill to the centro storico.
Exiting Rocca Paolina, I found myself in Piazza Italia (so that’s where it is – I could not find it the night before when trying to find my hotel!) and an antiques market. From there, I walked down Corso Vannucci, which is the city’s main ‘corso’ or street. The street is lined with clothing shops, restaurants, bars and of course places to buy chocolate. At the end of the Corso is Piazza IV Novembre, which has the Cathedrale di San Lorenzo and Palazzo die Priori bordering it, with Fontana Maggiore in the middle. It’s a very popular piazza for people watching, tour groups learning about such and such and generally taking in the beauty of Perugia.
After a cappuccino break at Pasticceria Sandri (which was always busy and has amazing chocolate pastries and is well, a dessert lovers dream come true), I headed northwest in the general direction of the Tempio di S. Angelo to see the temple as well as Porta S. Angelo. For 3 euros you can climb to the top of the tower with incredible views like this one:
After being out and about for a few hours, I hopped back on the escalators for faccio un pisolino (take a nap) at the hotel and to catch up on my blog!
I’d been wanting to see a movie in Italian, and I’d seen that Finding Dory was playing at 4:30pm, so after some searching, I found the small cinema located in a very non-descript building outside of the main tourist area. There were seven of us in the cinema: me, two parents and their very young daughter, a man older than me that appeared to have a mental disability (based on his loud laughs out loud at inappropriate times throughout the movie), and a mother with her child who also had some sort of mental disability. He made lots of shrieking and vomit sounding noises throughout the film, which wasn’t great, but I really felt sorry for the mom, who was trying her best to keep him quiet. It’s experiences like these that make you feel more like a local than a tourist, so I’m glad I went. I was able to really understand some of the movie and could at least understand the general plot line enough to actually laugh out loud in parts. I was very happy with myself! Bravissima!
After the movie, I went for another wander around town and also down to Giardini Carducci, which has amazing views of the surrounding countryside (I’m there now writing this).
Wanting to watch the nightly Passeggiata (people walking along the grand corso), I had a glass of vino rosso at a table at one of the many bars along the street. I sat there for at least an hour people watching and noticed that Italians typically dress much better than people from pretty much every other country (I could hear them speaking Italian, so assumed they were Italian!).
Eventually it was time for dinner, so I continued wandering until I found a place I liked. I sat outside and had a glass of house white wine (Pinot grigio – not my favourite!) and gnocchi that was made with spelt flour so it had a greyish colour and was very nice!
Returning to the hotel around 9:30pm, I was a bit worried that the area with the escalators was going to be dodgy, but no, there were lots of people around, so a very safe walk home. I actually felt a bit lame going to bed so early when everyone else seemed to be heading in the opposite direction!
In the morning, I took advantage of having another non-school day, so after lazying around, I packed up and headed out for a couple more hours of exploring. After having a breakfast of yogurt and a banana on the steps of the Palazzo dei Priori (see, I’m trying to be healthy), I walked around the back streets of the town seeing what I’d missed the day before.
Finally it was time to head down to the train station. I’d popped over to the station earlier to make sure I could buy my ticket for the train I wanted. The tiny S.Anna Ingresso Station, is a regional train and is not operation by Italy’s national train company, Trenitalia. Arriving at the station and finding all the doors locked and no one around, I saw this sign:
Lucky for me I understood it since there wasn’t a word anywhere in English! It says that the station is closed on Sunday so you can buy your ticket on board and not be required to pay an extra fee, which is usually paid if you arrive on board without a ticket.
Returning 15 minutes before the train was set to depart, I was happy to see other people at the station (about 10 people). Eventually I saw the conductor, the train started and we boarded. The trains are definitely not as nice as the Trenitalia trains, but for 4 euros, it was a cheap and easy way to get to Todi. The train ride went by quickly, with the only difficulty seeing my stop since the windows of the train are covered in graffiti! It was a good thing the man checking tickets let me know when it was my stop. After a few minutes waiting outside a very much empty and deserted train station in Todi, the son of the owner of the apartment arrived to pick me up. He spoke to me in Italian for the whole 10 minute ride and I understood much of it. After seeing Todi, I think it’s going to be a great place to spend a week!