This is the final article in our series about the region of Umbria in Italy. Last week I was able to catch up with Linda Linhart who is a creative collaborator with VIVA70. What a wonderful evening! Linda has recently returned from a trip to Umbria and we shared stories about the city of Perugia. Perugia is one of the Etruscan cities of Italy located about 164kms. North of Rome. Its stunning architecture, soft muted colours, history and classic food and wine culture are hallmarks of Perugia.
The University of Perugia is one of the oldest in Europe dating back to 1308. It’s a university town and home to the famous Pietro Vannucci (Perugino) 1446-1523 a classical high renaissance painter. Raphael was his student. Perugino chocolate is also famous and a chocolate festival is held in the city each year. As with many Italian cities, beauty and culture abound. You can spend days walking the cobbled streets looking up at the famous Etruscan arch by Francesco Gasparetti or seeing the 5th century altar in the Church of Sant’ Angelo, the oldest church in Perugia.
I studied in Perugia many years ago and spent 12 months living on the Corso Garibaldi, studying at the Universita per Stranieri (Foreigners University) a school of Italian culture and language. www.unistrapg.it If you’re looking for immersion in an Italian life style this is it. They also have shorter courses in Italian language if you feel like an adventure. Looking at Linda’s photos bought back many memories and stories. I have been back to Perugia many times since I studied there and love to stay at the Hotel La Rosetta centrally located in the old town.www.hotelarosetta.it
It’s here where I practiced my Italian on the waiters at breakfast and confidently asked for what I thought was marmalade for my bread. The young waiter looked perplexed, smiled, then laughed and bought me the marmalade. In fact I had asked for an orange soda drink to pour on my toast!
More than anything Linda and I shared stories of experiencing the life style of the Perugini. Walking everywhere. Eating gelato at Lick including gorgonzola, honey and walnut ice-cream. Buy bread, cheeses and wine at the Co-op in town at head up to Via del Prome for a picnic and panoramic views over the town. Close to Perugia is Lago Trasimeno, a special place in the quieter season of autumn for a picnic by the lake. Apparently Colin Firth and George Lucas have houses by the lake. Trattoria Del Pescatore is a great restaurant in the quiet season.
Winter is also very beautiful. It’s a chance to meet friends for lunch in many cafes and go to concerts held in Perugia’s many churches. Sunday’s are very special. At around 5pm families start to congregate in the Piazza IV Novembre and the fountain, Fontana Maggiore for the evening stroll, catch up with friends and aperitivo. This is a cultural habit called passeggiata. Families dress in their good clothes, meet friends and it’s a time to share stories, wine, a little food or cake. It’s a tradition shaped centuries ago when entire families would dress in their Sunday clothes- una bella figura- and daughters would be introduced to potential suitors- under family supervision! It’s a wonderful custom and passeggiata soon becomes a part of your Umbrian experience.
If you haven’t experienced a trip to Perugia and the beauty of Umbria make it happen. Sell things at a garage sale, plunder the superannuation, do nearly anything to get yourself on that plane! A trip like this is more than the month or year that you stay there. It’s a life time of memories, stories and joy.