Perugia (Umbria): what to see in 1 day

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What to see in Perugia, one-day itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including Palazzo dei Priori, Fontana Maggiore and Rocca Paolina.


Tourist information

City of Umbria, the provincial and regional capital, Perugia extends over two hills, the Colle del Sole and the Colle dei Landoni, at an average altitude of about 450 meters.

Colle del Sole coincides with the highest area of ​​Perugia, where originally one of the oldest gates of the city was located, Porta del Sole, which no longer exists, while Colle dei Landoni corresponds to the current Piazza Italia.


The two hills are joined by Corso Vannucci, the most important pedestrian street in Perugia, which played the role of thistle in the Roman plant.

If the first archaeological evidence of the territory of Perugia dates back to the Iron Age, about the ethnic origin of the city there are conflicting data, as the Tiber river marked the boundary line between the people of the Umbrians and that of the Etruscans, while the the territory of Perugia, located near the Tiber, had the typical characteristics of a border area, therefore some sources say that Perugia was founded by the people of Umbria, others by the people of the Etruscans.

However the first nucleus of the city was born around the second half of the sixth century BC and in a short time it became one of the first cities of the Etruscan dodecapoli, then acquiring an imposing city wall, which followed the contour lines of the settlement on two hills without stop, excluding the entrance doors.


The monumental remains of the Etruscan age are today represented by traces of the walls, with doors, extra-urban necropolises and the Etruscan well.

The Roman civilization in Perugia is not immediately noticeable, as in the ancient acropolis the Roman civilization gradually entered merging with the previous Etruscan civilization.

An example is Porta Marzia, the door is of Etruscan origin but retains several Roman elements, also we can identify the Roman urban layout of the city, based on two axes, the cardo corresponding to Corso Vannucci and the decuman coinciding with the current via dei Priori and Alessi.


The two arteries most likely crossed near the current Cathedral, where the forum and the acropolis were probably slightly higher.

With the collapse of the Roman Empire the Ostrogoths arrived, then from the sixth century to the eighth century, Perugia was occupied by the Byzantines, excluding two short periods in which it underwent the dominion of the Lombards.

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From the eighth century and for the following two centuries it was part of the Church State which governed the city through the Bishops, bound to the Carolingian Empire.

At the beginning of the twelfth century the free Municipality was born, which accepted the protection, but not the lordship of the Popes.

The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were characterized by a significant demographic and economic growth, which manifested itself through an important urban development, the Palazzo dei Priori was built, also known as Palazzo Comunale, the Fontana Maggiore, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, was established 'university.

But these years were also marked by struggles for the conquest of power, between the noble Beccherini and the common people Raspanti.

An occasion for city unity was the people's revolt against the abbot of Cluny called Monmaggiore, Papal legate, who was driven out by the Perugians for his despotic systems, also the fortress in Porta Sole, which he had erected, was destroyed.

Various lordships ruled the city and periods of quiet alternated with periods of strong antagonism, in which the protagonists were the Michelotti, the Visconti and the Fortebracci.

Important public works were carried out with Braccio Fortebracci da Montone, including the residence of Braccio in the square, of which only the loggias remain.


Between 1438 and the beginning of the 1500s the Baglioni family took power, which favored an important artistic and cultural flowering, calling prestigious artists such as Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio and Raffaello to Perugia.

From the mid-sixteenth century until the unification of Italy, except for a short interval in which it became part of the so-called Department of the Trasimeno, the city was again under the state of the Church.

The Rocca Paolina was built, where the papal garrison settled and, despite the loss of its autonomy, the city from an artistic and architectural point of view continued to embellish itself with the creation of elegant Baroque churches and palaces.

What see

Perugia is located in the center of the Umbria region with the 5 historic districts enclosed by the Etruscan walls, some parts of which are still visible.

In the Porta Sant’Angelo district there are important monuments, including the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the Fontana Maggiore, the Church of Sant’Angelo and the Etruscan Arch.

To the Porta Sole district belong the Church of San Severo, with the adjacent Chapel which preserves the precious Trinity by Raffaello Sanzio and Pietro Vannucci known as Perugino, and the Churches of San Bevignate and Santa Maria di Monteluce.


At the Porta Santa Susanna district there are the Palazzo dei Priori, the Church of San Francesco al Prato and the Oratory of San Bernardino.

The Porta Eburnea district includes the Collegio del Cambio, the Church and the Monastery of Santa Giuliana of medieval origin.

In the district of Porta San Pietro, to which the Palazzo del Capitano and that of the old University belong, there are the Churches of Sant 'Ercolano, San Domenico and San Pietro, as well as Piazza Italia, dominated by the Rocca Paolina.

If you enter the city through the San Pietro gate, you will find the basilica of San Domenico a little further on the right with its beautiful cloister and the convent adjacent to the National Archaeological Museum of Umbria.

Continuing on, you reach Piazza del Sopramuro where there is the fifteenth-century building of the Old University and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo which are attached to each other.

Further on, a short climb leads to Piazza IV Novembre, also called the large square where you can admire the Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral and the Fontana Maggiore placed in the middle.

Walking along Corso Vannucci you arrive at the belvedere garden, built over the base of the old Rocca Paolina, which encloses an entire neighborhood of the ancient city brought to light after long restoration works.

The ramp of Via delle Prome, starting at the Arch of Augustus takes us to the highest point of the city, precisely where the fortress of Porta Sole once stood and was destroyed.

Noteworthy are the monumental complex of San Francesco and the Oratory of San Bernardino, whose facade is covered with fine sculpted Renaissance bas-reliefs.

Perugia is also periodically home to important events including the Umbria Jazz music festival and the typical Eurochocolate gastronomy event.

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