Perugia: Monday

On Monday Mom, the Hubby and I took the Perugia City Tour.  We rode around in a very red bus with headphones on our ears and were allowed to be as touristy as we wanted. 

The bus took us to all five of the major neighborhoods of Perugia, and it was neat to see that we had already visited most of the sites and paths on foot.  I took a lot of video for the tour, and I hope to edit the footage together when I’m back home and have time (and iMovie) to do so. 

After the tour we went to our favorite bar, La Terrezza.  The bar overlooks the old city, the Perugian countryside, and on clear days it’s possible to see all the way over to Assisi.

After hanging out at the bar for a while, the Hubby  and I decided to follow the final city itinerary through the western neighborhood of Perugia.  We found a little inner-city park, another set of scala mobile (outdoor public escalators), a larger park nestled into the hillside near the MiniMetro terminal Pincetto and of course, more beautiful old architecture.

  

 

Sunday: Perugia Archeology Museum

On Sunday we visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell’Umbria.  The museum is located in the southern end of the city in a beautiful old building that once housed the convent of San Domenico.

Upon passing through the main arch into the museum visitors are greeted by a large courtyard with a now unused well in the center. 

View of the courtyard from the second story

Cinerary urns dating back to the 3rd-1st century B.C. line the four walls of the old cloister.

  

 

The museum is split into two major sections: prehistoric and Etruscan-Roman history.   The Hubby posed next to this poster introducing the history of man exhibit.  Yup…there’s that 96%.

Our stop at the next exhibit was one of the times during our visit that I really regretted not being able to understand Italian.  This is an interactive display discussing evolution, creation and intelligent design.  The gentleman on the left (my left)  is a professor at one of the Italian universities, and the gentleman on the right is a clergyman.   If no one is using the exhibit, both  videos are on a loop to show the men sitting calmly, twiddling their thumbs (literally in some instances), waiting to answer your questions.

Here is a close up of the computer display.  For each question you can get the viewpoint of both the scientist and the clergyman.  There are questions about evolution, creation science and intelligent design.  I’d love to hear the respones from the two speakers…and to know if the exhibit is biased one way or the other.

Further on in the museum we found a really neat room that contained two sarcophagi (-gus? -gueses?). 

This sarcophagus that the Hubby  is crouched in front of is described in one of the English-language guidebooks.  It’s not only neat because it’s a box that held an important dead dude; it contains historical information of the city.  From the guidebook:

This is the first major document of the city’s history and was made in Chiusi at the end of the 6th century B.C.  On the front is a frieze showing the return from a victorious military expedition with  a procession of soldiers carrying valuable booty: prisoners, objects loaded onto beasts of burden and herds of livestock.  Two banqueting scenes ornament the sides of the chest.

 The second sarcophogus contains the remains of it’s original inhabitant:

The Hubby gets up close and personal with  a human ancestor.

In my touristy, non-Italian-speaking, non-professional opinion, the exhibit halls were very well set up.  The displays were spread out and labelled and described in detail, the walls and spaces in each room were well-used and everything flowed in a linear fashion, i.e., we didn’t have to retrace our steps while moving from room to room.

One hallway in the museum -each doorway on the left leads to a small exhibit room.

Cool pyramid display cases – part of the museum’s amulet collection.

Copper helmet, pitchers

Slingshot projectiles display

One of the exhibits that really elicited a sense of awe from me was the Perugia cippus stone – an ancient (2nd-3rd century B.C.) boundary stone that used to be located at the edge of the city.  The writing is Etruscan, and the museum has blown-up a copy of the writing and placed it on the exhibit wall.  It highlights the different paragraphs on the stone, as well as names, places, and even mistakes made by the stonecutter.  From the guidebook:

This travertine block was a boundary marker.  The text records the agreements stipulated between the Velthina and Afuna families regarding the ownership or use of various pieces of land, on which stood, among other things, a tomb belonging to the Velthina.

Front of the cippus

Side of the cippus

An artist’s rendition of travelers or land dwellers standing around the cippus

That’s about it for the museum.  We were getting hungry and ready to sit for a while, so we headed out to find a trattoria.  But not before getting a few more pictures of the view from the museum.

 

 

More roof tiles…I love these things!

A final picture of the courtyard and the church of San Domenico rising up in the background.

Perugia: Saturday Morning

The city of Perugia has installed several public scala mobili e ascensori (escalators and elevators) around the city to make navigating some of the steeper hills easier.  One of  the neatest set of escalators that we’ve found are those that start at the Bus Station (Piazza Partigiani) and go up under the city to end inside the Rocca Paolina, a gigantic fortress built in the 16th century and situated in the middle of the Centro Storico in Piazza D’Italia.

  

Stairs at the Piazza Partigiani, Second entryway to the scala mobile, Mom on the steep escalator.

Inside the Rocca Paolina:

The last escalator ends in a cavernous section of the Rocco Paolina.

One of the now empty underground rooms of the fortress.

As we left the Rocco Paolina we were delighted to discover that Piazza D’Italia and Via Vannucci had been taken over by a street market!  We wandered around the park and up Vannucci admiring the drawings, jewelry, antiques, purses, sundresses and other wares being peddled by the vendors. 

Along the way home we stopped for lunch at Gus, a trattoria and sushi joint.  We had the yummiest seaweed salad before the main sushi plate arrived.  It was this good: 

And finally, after our busy morning it was back home to the apartment for the traditional Italian mid-day rest.

Perugia: POST Museum

On Saturday afternoon the Hubby and I went wandering around the streets near the apartments.  We were over on Via Pinturicchio when we saw these signs that said “POST” and “Scienza” and an unmistakeable symbol for museum…

O

M

G

A science museum in Perugia??? 

How lucky can a biodork get?

This was so fabulous that I decided to capture our visit on video.  Okay, really it was more like I just recently remembered that “Hey, there’s a video recorder on this camera!” but this seemed like a fun time and place to get some video.

Warning – these videos are all unscripted, spur of the minute, unedited recordings. I may say stupid, dorky, ignorant or just plain incorrect things in the following raw footage. Feel free to correct me if you notice mistakes, but I implore you to not be a dick about it.

Video 1: Introduction to Post.  In which I pronounce my geekiness from the hilltop.  Literally.

Video 2: Phone Exhibit.  In which I drag the Hubby into my geekiness.

Video 3: Main Hall. In which I display my embarrassingly rudimentary grasp of physics and calculus. It’s a damned parabola, okay? A parabola. Everyone say it with me…pah-rab-o-lah.

Video 4: Toilet Exhibit.  In which…okay, I got nothing.  It’s a toilet.  But it’s coooool.

See, wasn’t that awesome?  I loved that we had the whole place to ourselves, but it was a little sad that no one else was visiting the museum.  It was a children’s museum and very small – kind of one of those things you do once as a local, maybe.  Now I want to find out if there’s a big kid science museum in this city!

Friday: Assisi

Friday was our first out-of-town excursion!  Mom, the Hubby and I took a bus from Perugia to the nearby city of Assisi, which is a religious center and the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi, the  founder of the Franciscan religious order. 

The town of Assisi is ALL hills and stairs going up.  I’m sure that they must go down at some point, but it seemed like even the down hills were going up.  But the walking and climbing is worth it; here’s what we saw after scaling the first hill into the city:

Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco. 

This was an incredible sight.  The courtyard is gigantic and the Basilica rises up high into the sky.  It’s simply dazzling to approach.

Main entryway into Basilica di San Francesco

There were monks inside of the basilica enforcing the dress code: Knees and shoulders needed to be covered.  Anyone wearing spaghetti-strap, tank top or strapless shirts/dresses had to drape a navy blue sheet around their shoulders before they were allowed to walk through the basilica.  Those with dresses, skirts or shorts that ended above the knees were given the same blue sheets to wrap around their waists.  The dress code applied to both men and women. 

Pictures were not allowed inside the Basilica, so this is all ya get from me.  As an aside: The only person I saw sneaking a photo inside of the basilica was an elderly woman in a nun’s habit…I giggled.  The interior was incredibly ornate – almost every surface of the walls and the high, cavernous ceiling appeared to be covered in decorative painting and murals.  There were several areas for worship, and at least one service was in session as we walked by.  We also went down into the underground crypt, which is said to contain the remains of St. Francis and four of his companions. 

View of the countryside from the Sagrato Superiore di San Francesco.

Walking Through Town

Up, up and more up.  Absolutely beautiful, but definitely up.

An arch curving over Via S. Francesco

Assisi has a much more touristy feel than Perugia.  The city was very crowded, clutches (gaggles?) of tourists walked in packs (herds?) following tour guides waving flags over their heads, and there were several tourist shops selling Assisi/church-themed souveniers on every block of the main road.

It was 95 F in Assisi that day.  I was very envious of the kids across the street from where the three of us had chosen to have drinks:

You can’t throw a stone in Assisi without hitting a monk.  Which, incidentally, I wouldn’t do…it just wouldn’t be nice.  These two were standing in the Piazza del Comune.  I liked the backpacks and sunglasses with the brown robes. 

The Piazza del Comune is surrounded by the Foro Romano, the Palazzo Comunale, and the spectacularly gigantic buildings of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and the Chiesa di Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  The dichotomies between architecture of the older temple of Minerva and the more “modern” palazzo is stunning.  This picture is from another website because I just could not get the right perspective – the damn tall tower made capturing a good shot of both buildings really difficult.

  

Inside the Temple of Minerva

 La Rocca Maggiore

After the Temple of Minerva we were all too tired to keep climbing, but the next bus to Perugia was still two hours away!  So we did something pricey but fun: We had a taxi drive us around town and show us the sights!  One of the biggest highlights of our taxi tour was a trip up to La Rocca Maggiore – a fortress on a hilltop overlooking the city center.

La Rocca Maggiore as seen from downtown Assisi

La Rocca Maggiore from town, zoomed in.

 On top of Assisi – La Rocca Maggiore

View of central Assisi, seen from La Rocca Maggiore.

At the end of the day we rode back to Perugia (by taxi – long story involving a touristy, non-Italian-speaking mistake regarding bus schedules and school day vs. non-school day routes) and chilled for the rest of the evening.  It was another fine day in Italy.

People around Perugia

Some pictures of people being people around Perugia:

Couples and Groups

 

 

 

Solo

 

 

Faces and Expressions

I noticed this girl and her family because they were all carrying umbrellas as they walked through the square.  They have the palest skin of anyone I’ve seen while in Perugia.  I wanted to ask them where they are from.

This man was one our waiters at Gus Ristorante.  He’s about four tables away waiting on a lively lunch group of five friends.

This gentleman was considering the tables at Gus Ristorante with his wife.

This man was attempting to sell watches and bracelets “authentic from Somolia!” to the diners at Gus Ristorante.

Perugia: Thursday

On Thursday I woke up at the bright and early – if not chipper – hour of 6:30am to go on a solo walk.  It was wonderful to have the city all to myself – I only saw a few other early morning walkers, and the flow of traffic didn’t really start picking up until about 7:30am.  I explored new parts of Perugia, including some really steep hills and stairs.

When I got home Mom was just rolling out of bed, and we called the Hubby to breakfast (scrambled eggs with fresh mushrooms and pancetta cooked at the apartment!) around 9am.  Afterwards we walked two blocks over to the National Gallery of Umbria (Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria).  There was no photography allowed in the exhibit halls, which is a bummer because there are some beautiful works housed inside.  The place is just huge – it has 23 galleries of art from Umbrian artists dating back to the 13th century through the 16th.  This is a picture of the building itself, courtesty of Wikipedia.  The Fontana Maggiore is in the foreground to the right of the museum.

Later that night we had drinks at La Terrezza again, and then we relaxed and played some Italian Uno at the apartment.   As you might guess, Italian Uno is just like English Uno, except the directions are in Italian.   Which makes making up rules more fun. 

Iz in yur Italian Uno, makin up teh rulz.

Perugia: Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday we went exploring.  It was our first full day in Perugia, so we started at the apartment and radiated out.  We went grocery shopping and browsed a street vendor selling ceramics at Piazza Danti.

Food from the Alimentari

Ceramics for sale on the steps of Cathedrale San Lorenzo

We discovered that Perugia is a narrow oval of a town; you can walk for a very long time in one direction, then take one side street and be not too far from where you started.  It’s hard to tell where’ll you’ll end up because the streets twist and turn in haphazard, multilevel, maze-like routes – some roads lead you uphill, some roads lead down.  Some of the streets go underneath buildings and are hidden in the corners of other streets that look like dead-ends.  Also, you can meander down a very gradual hill with lots of twists and turns for thirty minutes, and then get back home in five minutes by taking one steep stairway.  The entire town is hills, hills, hills and many people walk everywhere (according to the Tourist Information office).  You could eat pizza and drink beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never gain weight in this town!

There are frescoes located all throughout the town, tucked in back alleyways and displayed prominantly along busy streets.

A small fresco displayed above a modern clothing store in Perugia’s Centro Storico.

A close-up of the same fresco

A fresco seen on Via Ercolano

Wednesday we decided to follow one of the local walking tours that took us to the far edge of town.  We followed a gradual hill up to the Keep of Sant’Angelo – a giant castle-looking structure – and found a beautiful temple (Temple of Sant’Angelo) hidden at the top of a hill behind stone walls and a lush green garden.

The Keep from Corso Garibaldi -  the largest of Perugia’s medieval city gates (14th century)

The Keep as seen from the Temple Garden 

 

Me in front of the Temple of Sant’Angelo, the oldest church in Perugia (5th-6th century)

 

  Inside the Temple – the main center

In order to save a little space, I am condensing the following pictures  into thumbnails.  You should be able to click on each picture to enlarge them if you’re interested. 

          

L to R, top to bottom: temple ceiling, around an inside wall of the temple, wall fresco, fresco and cross, burial tombs(?), church bells, baptismal chamber (located off of the main gallery), side room, side room (sorry, I don’t know what these side rooms were used for), prayer candles.

On the way home we were treated to an excellent view of the Etruscan Arch (Arco Etrusco).

The Etruscan Arch – shot on the way home from the Temple of Sant’Angelo

The Etruscan Arch – shot earlier that morning

The Etruscan Arch – inside wall

And here’s a few shots from later in the evening and Wednesday night:

Roof tiling from the edge

Perugia: Gluten Free Dining

Yesterday we meandered through the San Pietro area.  One of the highlights of the trip was finding this random crepe kitchen, Le Cre.  It was tucked near the end of a tunnel-like alley next to the Pozzo Etrusco, an ancient Etruscan well.

I noticed the word “glutine” in a few places around the shop and then I saw a newspaper clipping with the words “gluten free” in the title along with a picture of the place.  The bar tender saw me pointing and saying “gluten free” and she nodded.  She pointed up and at the ceiling and in that moment I learned one of the loveliest phrases of my trip thus far: Senza Glutine.  Directly translated it means “without gluten”.

She spoke a fair amount of English, and was able to explain that the senza glutine side of this particular kitchen has been dedicated to gluten-free food preparation.  She told us that there were a few GF restaurants in the area, and that they were very prevalent in Southern Italy.  So it was that I enjoyed a crepe in Italy.

We nom nom nom on a nutella e crema senza glutine crepe

On Wednesday we ran across another luncheon place that had a senza glutine section on the menu, so I was able to enjoy PASTA in Italy :)

Thatsa lotta pasta carbonara – and it’s gluten-free!

Tonight (Wednesday evening) we stopped back at Le Cre for one final crepe dinner.  The owners close up Le Cre for the summer on Friday, so even though we’re surrounded by bars, paninitecas, pizzarias, tavole caldas and ristorantes, we decided to vist them one more time. 

One of the cafe staff makes my senza glutine crepe

Salami, cheese, whole marinated “spicy” button mushrooms, lettuce, mayo on a GF crepe

Mom said she needs a short break from “Italian food”.  Tomorrow night – sushi!