I’m starting a series of posts about my recent Italian holidays. The main target of the journey was to explore Tuscany region by car without a strict schedule. We just tried to hold the general direction of our trip that started in Rome continued to Florence then to the coastal Forte Dei Marmi and then back to Rome. This allowed us to visit many beautiful towns in between these main reference points. This post is about our first stop in the capital of Umbria region, the city called Perugia.
Umbria Region: Our First Stop After Landing in Rome
Our journey began at the Rome International Airport named after Leonardo da Vinci. We decided to make Rome our final destination on the schedule in order to be closer to the airport and eliminate any intercity car trips before flying back home. Right after getting our luggage we rushed to the local Avis rental office to pick up our Alfa Romeo Julietta and start driving towards Florence.
It was the first day of our Italian travel and we didn’t want to spend too much time at the steering wheel. It took us almost two hours and 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) to finally reach our first destination in Umbria region.
By the way, Umbria is the only region in Italy without a coastline and that has no boarders with other countries.
Primavera Mini Hotel Welcomed Us with Narrow Streets
There are a number of options to stay outside the city and experience Italian agriturismo by living at one of the restored farm houses surrounded by nature. One of the big advantages of this option is free and easy parking. But we wanted to stay in the middle of everything and chose the hotel called Primavera Mini Hotel located in the center of Perugia. Getting there was quite extreme.
Even with our relatively small car it was sometimes scary to squeeze into the city’s narrow streets. The GPS signal was weak and we had a hard time locating the hotel.
Then the parking lot was really small, so make sure not to rent a bigger car if you decide to drive into any of the small towns.
Inside the hotel everything was in relatively good condition. It had all standard amenities and the bed was comfortable.
For 80 Euros per night Primavera Mini Hotel was a good option to spend a couple of nights in the heart of the city without overpaying.
Things to See in the Main City of Umbria Region
Perugia has a population of about 170,000 people and consists of two parts that are connected with each other using a small monorail train system.
Upper Perugia located on top of the hill is the historic touristic area. Lower Perugia is the residential area with modern buildings.
After arriving to Perugia you find yourself surrounded by medieval buildings with narrow streets that look like they have been carved out of stone.
Old town located on top of the hill has a number of observation points where you can overlook the beautiful Tiber Valley.
Piazza IV Novembre is the central square of old Perugia with a beautiful Fontana Maggiore (Maggiore Fountain) and Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Cathedral) both built between 13th and 15th centuries.
Walking from Piazza IV Novembre along the main street called Corso Vanucci that has many small restaurants and shops will bring you to the Giardini Carducci (Carducci Gardens) where you will find another excellent observation point.
You can also walk up the stairs from the same square right to the Palazzo dei Priori (City Council). Today it’s considered to be the main museum in the region where you can see a number of paintings made by Perugino, Benozzo Gozzoli, Pintoricchio and other famous Italian artists.
Overall Perugia was a great destination to start our Italian travel for three main reasons:
1) It’s located in relatively close proximity to Rome.
2) Perugia is the capital of the Umbria region so it has a number of sight-seeing options worth looking at.
3) The city is actually the central transportation hub of the region connected with the main regional highways. It’s easy to get there and then take any direction when you decide to continue driving.