Italy-Umbria Flag

Perugia >  Google™ Map  Perugia Coat of Arms

Italy-Umbria Flag Italy > Umbria

Sep 2012

Perugia Coat of Arms

There's already half an affinity with the regional capital of Umbria since Perugia became this one's second team when Channel 4™'s  Italian Football was on in the '90s. No particular reason, the strip was a fairly unimaginative red, but they just sounded a bit, well, exotic when said with the linguistic genius of  James Richardson.

You can get here by train when you're too scared to drive and the urban sprawl on the way in is where most of the population lives including 40,000+ students but more on them in a minute. The historic old town or the Centro Storico if you'd rather is up a hill so that needs to be headed up.

You know when you really want to like something? It's like whisky, which all men should like, but this one's never been able to get to grips with the grain and there have been a few dark nights of the soul that didn't turn out as intended.

And so it is with Perugia, a bit.

Cars have long been discouraged, nay disallowed, from driving up during the day and the map suggests it's not that far? Take a right on Via Mario Angeloni then wind up on Via XX Settembre[1] from where the narrow streets will lead you to the top in no time.

Except the last two are dead ends so some backtracking to play safe with the main road is required but that's heading the wrong way now somehow!

Rather randomly, something more medieval-looking appears and if you're following, a succession of blind turns and false summits now follow.

This all adds up to the best part of an hour of your life, which you probably won't be bothered about getting back. You could always get a bus up but where's the frustration in doing that?

[1] Funnily enough, just a fortnight away.

Once you're up, enjoy the view east over to Assisi that's about 12 miles away, it's thought, the location, all them years ago, for the first ever episode of  All Creatures Great and Small.

Enjoy it while you can because the cloud's coming in and it's only started to rain, heavily. Luckily, this is right next to the Palazzo della Provincia e della Prefettura so there's half-an-hour's sheltering under i portici, which are just posh arches, really.

The building is the local government headquarters and where the pen pushers at Citta Hall plan what they think is progress in Perugia, probably. They could start with some escalators, that was quite a lug up but what's that? They already have?

Four of them, apparently, as well as two lifts yet not a single sniff of one of them on the way up here.

  Reginella Pizzeria (Via del Forno)

The hawkers on the street were onto the downpour and, quick as a flash flood, the sunglasses were switched for Umbrian umbrellas. This caffè's already got their umbrellas out on the street and with that rain easing off, a pair of pizzas in a piazza it is then.

They only take a minute in a proper oven, they say, but no sniff of them, neither, after half an hour. Nearly two hours now with not an awful lot to report and we really, really want to like this place.

One of the highlights up here is the Duomo di Perugia but no one's in any mood at the minute to be told to 'Sssh!' and to cover up those shoulders.

The Palazzo dei Priori has also caught the eye and is mostly 14th but some of it 13th century and functioned as the former seat of the regional government until Italy went and got all  unified in the 1870s.

It's home now to Umbria's 'National' Gallery and who doesn't mind a bit of  Caravaggio but what's that? It's closed on a Tuesday? If you grew up in England in the '70s then Wednesday, yes, but Tuesday?

With the main attraction closed, there's maybe an hour's worth of medieval mooching behind the main public area although this one's not the  Etruscan arch that everybody's banging on about.

There's a temptation to head back down and lots of steps and walkways support that plan but there's no coming back once you huffing have.

A 21-year-old English student called Meredith Kercher was found murdered in Perugia in 2007 and you might want to pull up a chair...

A local man was arrested, charged and sentenced to 30 years in prison although they let him off with the burglary. So far, so straightforward, but Kercher's housemate Amanda Knox, an American student of similar age, and her boyfriend were convicted for their involvement two years later.

This decision was overturned on appeal and in 2011 they were both released but then found guilty, again, in 2014 despite no new DNA evidence during the retrial. Knox had remained in the USA since 2011 and another appeal saw her and her ex acquited, again.

The  high profile case highlighted the Italian police and judicial systems more than what actually happened that night and how is this known? Because there's not that much else on  Netflix™ while it's still being paid for.

Anyway, all of this happened not too far from down there.

Head down you will in the knowledge that, now you've got your bearings, it shouldn't take half as long. Except, this bus station can't be here, it just can't be!

It's only about 300 metres by flying crow to the Piazza Partigiani from that view to Assisi but it's already taken 20 minutes and the sudden appearance of those escalators is half-a-day late and not a great deal of help on a descent. You could always get a bus down but where's the frustration in doing that?

It's getting into legs getting crossed territory now but that's a couple of pints and a lot of jarring steps for you. Luckily, there's a bar in a pedestrianised part of an old friend Via Mario Angeloni but there's a key required for the single bagno.

The phrasebook isn't needed to know what occupato means but, deary me, 15 minutes? What are you doing in there man? Cooking a pizza?...

'Scusi! Have you finished with that caraffa?' Very nearly.

Neither is the phrase book needed at the train station, neither, for the meaning of cancellato so departure is a little later than would have been liked but at least it was remembered to  validare those tickets. You did, didn't you?

Not that it matters, anyway, there's not a 'clippie' in sight so that pair of Euro-anarchist nutjobs have got your full attention. As has the unfamiliar train door mechanism that through sheer good fortune of random pulling, lifting and twisting means not staying on all the way to Florence.

Really wanting to like Perugia, today it threw everything back it had to not to. Oh well, will just have to try again but that might not be for a while so to try and unwind... 'Scusi Signor! Two larges scotches per favore.'

Let's give that whisky another go. It can't be that hard to like?