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5 June 2020 - Day 55 – Perugia

When I returned from the wine bar last night, sitting on my bed was a copy of Petrarch’s “Canzoniere”, fortunately in English. There was a note inviting me to take it with me, so now I have a copy to peruse. Good promotion for the City of Arezzo.

And it did rain about 4am last night. Actually, it was a sound and light show, with thunder and lightning for about half an hour. It woke me up, so I had a pee and then rolled over and went back to sleep. It was clearing when I looked out the window at 8 this morning.

This morning, my train out of Arezzo RV3153 was due out at 9:13, but was a few minutes late.

I had cleared the hotel half an hour before, stopping next door to the hotel at Pastticceria Café Paris. I was able to get a large decaf Americano and a pain au chocolat, which successfully made it onto the train. While on the train, I read a PDF I’d pulled off the net ( for things to see and do in Perugia.

Due into Perugia at 10:16, we were about 5 minutes late. I suspected a walk to the Hotel Bonazzi might take me a lot more than the estimate from Google, probably because of three sets of stairs I would have to use, with a 1.5 kilometer walk and an incline that gained 170 meters.

However, a short walk from the station put me on the MiniMetrò, Perugia’s answer to San Francisco’s cable cars. Exiting at the Pincetto MM stop, I was 500m away with a much shorter climb.

A bit before 11, the hotel had my room ready, so I registered and headed up. Plenty of floor space, I opened the roller and left it open on the floor. Simple and functional, I’ll be comfortable here for two nights in #Perugia, the capital of #Umbria.

Perugia MiniMetrò (2 minutes):

The PDF I’d read elucidated the marvel of the MiniMetrò. While riding both above and below ground, I avoided one of the several showers that occurred today. Leaving the hotel in my yellow slicker, camera and rucksack protected by the wide front panels, I set off for the cathedral. A relatively straight and flat route, I walked past retail shops and restaurants, as well as a few palazzo/museums, including the Palazzo Lippi Alessandri (exhibit hall and museum of city and regional treasures), the Nobile Collegio del Cambio (museum: historic seat of the exchange guild with artistic masterpieces) and Palazzo dei Priori (“most striking building in all of Perugia”) with the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria (40 salons over 2 floors; per Wikipedia, one of the most outstanding provincial Italian collections of art.)

Into the Piazza IV Novembre, I was facing the south side of the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo e Sant’Ercolano. The façade is unfinished, with a portion of the south wall showing the intended decoration. The west end is rough unfinished stone. A seated statue of Pope Julius III, who restored self-rule after Paul III suppressed it, is next to the south porch. A square bell tower stands to the northeast corner.

The nave, twice as wide as the side aisles, has the same continuous height. The vaults have extensive fresco work. Abbreviated transepts include a sacramental altar to the south side with an adjacent baptistry. To the south of the entrance door is the church’s most important artwork, the Deposition from the Cross by Federico Barocci. Opposite is the tomb of Pope Martin IV, with relics of Innocent III and Urban IV. The bishop’s throne is a narrow white marble seat to the north of the main altar.

At 12:30 the cathedral closed for the early afternoon, so I was back on the wet plaza, following another shower I’d “missed”. My PDF guide sent me next to Via della Viola, a narrow backstreet with plenty of art installations, craft vendors and street performers.

Some tables were out, and one intrepid busker was tempting the rain. I felt amused and relaxed.

From there, a climb past the Arco dei Gigli for more public art, some stairs and hidden views before truly climbing to the Porta Sole, the highest point of Perugia. The weather was starting to clear in spots, so the sun broke through, helping with the high 60’s temperatures.

The views were spectacular, looking over the Etruscan walls. Descending a bit on the other side from the central city, I came upon the Arco Etrusco o di Augusto Gate.

Coming around towards the back of the cathedral, I came across the now disused aqueduct. The city has converted it into a pedestrian walkway, with occasional breaks in the wall to allow access to a residence.

Once I rounded the cathedral, I shifted east to descend along the Via Baglioni. (I’d climbed from the hotel on Corso Piero Vannucci.) Passing the courthouse, the post office and several high-end boutiques, I was still in the commercial district, with a different view. At the government legislative building, I moved a bit further east to visit the Arco Sant’Ercolano. It was up a serious number of steps, so I decided to stick my head into the church of the same saint instead.

Chiesa di Sant'Ercolano is an octagonal building. The ceiling has a fabulous series of paintings and a side altar has a Roman sarcophagus that contains the relics of the martyred Bishop Ercolano.

Five meters above a park with a small Neptune fountain was the old Porta Marzia, an old Etruscan entry gate. Bits of old statues (of gods?) fill the top openings of the façade. Facing south, it was built in the third century BCE. Placement was adjusted when the Rocco Paolina was constructed. Some of the old walls and archeological fragments are visible within.

Down the street, at its end, was what is left of this Rocca Paolina fortress. Mid sixteenth century construction for Pope Paul III, Antonio da Sangalio the Younger’s designs destroyed and replaced Etruscan, Roman and medieval structures. Old streets became underground passageways, and it was these that I’d come to see, as the city market was underground. The fortress was demolished with the annexing of Perugia into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

The underground was fun. An escalator down to tunnels and excavations, with vendors selling crafts and tourist stuff, an art exhibition, some archeological effects and informational walls. I really liked some of the artwork at the “gallery” and if it had been smaller and easier to get back to Florida, there probably would have been some rearranging done in July. At the craft tables, I was able to find a few small (lightweight) goodies to bring back as gifts. But no hat pin for my collection.

By walking north (underground, it’s hard to figure directions), I was able to come out via another escalator onto Viale Indipendenza at the Giardini Carducci.

By doing this, I’d saved the walk from the lower end of this road through a hairpin climb and was within a block to the hotel. Entering, I collected my key and headed up the lift. I’d done a lot of walking, and probably never got off my feet for six plus hours. And not eaten since my train ride. (Fortunately, I found water available and public restrooms.) So I spent an hour scribbling in the journal, getting most of the day written up, before I decided to head out and get something into my belly, even if it was just a glass of wine with nibbles.

There had been two “more remote” churches in the southeast part of the city that had been suggested, so I considered restaurants near them first. Not much interesting near St Dominic’s Convent, St Peter’s Abbey was even further away. Eliminating the southeast, I surveyed via Google the nearby places and wasn’t really impressed, so I ventured up towards the Palazzo di Priori and wound up at Osteria A Priori. Small, locally sourced, their menu had a lot of vegetarian options. Plus they had a daily menu in English, which helped, because otherwise, I point-and-shoot, getting the luck-of-the-draw. And, I don’t know why I was so lucky, they even had a small table available, and it was Friday evening!

To start, I went a vegetarian route, getting the Lake Trasimeno beans; tomato, fresh vegetables and bread salad (Panzanella) and a small egg frittata with Cannara onions. Served in separate sections on the plate, I decided it might be more interesting to mix, so, after trying each individually, I started in the center of the plate. Apparently not unusual, I got knowing smiles rather than frowns from the staff, and actually found the mix to be tastier than separately. Knowing my next two courses would be beef-based, I ordered a local red wine. My waiter suggested a Sagrantino, a grape I don’t know, from Montefalco. Big tannins, heavy phenols, serious mouthfeel with lots of fruit. My primi was agnolotti pasta filled with red wine stewed beef, served with Cannara onions. The onion used was obviously the red (rather than borrettana or golden varieties) as the filled pasta topping bore a dark red hue. And I’d guess that they include some balsamic in the prep. They even allowed a slight dusting of grated pecorino, so I enjoyed this course immensely. For my secondi, bocconcini di Chianina cotti a bassa temperature con contorno di derdura saltata in padella, which I think is slow cooked beef morsels with a sautéed side dish. The beef chunks were ultra-tender, deeply flavored, and intense. The veggie was broccolini, sautéed with black pepper, garlic and olive oil. About all I could ask for would be a small portion of some sort of potato – maybe gnocchi? Both courses stood up well with the intense Sagrantino.

Can one assume Perugia and Perugina are somehow closely related? Until I learn otherwise, I’m going to assume so, and that means chocolate anything is a requirement. So it was the torta di ricotta e gocce di cioccolato Perugina which won. And be sure to look at that picture. That’s a lot more than a “gocce” (drop) of chocolate, even more than a heavy dusting. So I was in seventh heaven. And followed it with a decaf cappuccino.

Walking back down the slight hill towards the hotel, I noticed Snack Bar, and stopped in to see if they had an Umbrian digestif, if such beverage exists. No surprise, he had an Amaro al Tartufo. Made from Umbrian truffles and herbs, it has an intense black licorice flavor with a faint musty, earthy undertone. A bit pricier than most late-night drinks I’d tried, I still found it worth tasting. But, no, I’ll probably pass on in the future.

Back at the hotel, up to the room and I got cracking on my nightly tasks. Maybe 50 photos to share with this report, which is a lot more than I thought – this was supposed to be a light day. I guess that’s the reward for over research. At least the weather cooperated.

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