From the north: Take the A1 Motorway (Milan -Rome) south towards Perugia (Rome), take the exit for Valdichiana and then follow directions to Perugia.
From the south: Take the A1 Motorway and take the exit for Orte and then follow directions to Perugia.
From the medieval churches, to the works of Perugino, the magic of Piazza IV Novembre, the splendid Fontana Maggiore, Palazzo dei Priori, the Duomo and the National Gallery of Umbria, Perugia offers its visitors an unspoilt atmosphere of times gone by, and in addition the town’s culinary tradition presents you with some wonderful flavours. The city of Etruscan origins, was built in the 6th century BC on the hills of Porta Sole and Landone, which overlook the Tiber (Tevere) Valley. From the 3rd century BC it was under the influence of Rome and in the first century BC Perugia obtained Roman citizenship.
In Medieval times, Perugia became a free Commune and by 1300 was ruler of the surrounding territory. From 1540, Perugia, whilst under the control of the Church, acquired its independence at the time of the unification of Italy, when urban development spread out over the nearby plain thereby leaving the historic old town and its monuments intact.
Walking down Corso Vannucci, Perugia's main street, which is lined with shops and beautiful buildings, you will reach the heart of the city- Piazza IV Novembre. This town square was built on the foundations of the original Etruscan town and Roman forum. In the centre stands the fountain - Fontana Maggiore (1275-78) - designed by Niccolo and Giovanni Pisano. It is formed by two polygonal basins and decorated entirely with marble bas-reliefs representing the months, zodiac signs, coats of arms, the liberal arts, the fables of Aesop and the emblem of Perugia (found next to the stories of the Bible).
The Cathedral, which stands in the background, was begun in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries by Fra Bevignate: here Bernardino of Siena preached from the remarkable mosaic pulpit located to the right of the portal. Inside and within the apse (is a 15th century choir carved by Giuliano da Maiano) and masterpieces by Luca Signorelli.
Nearby is Palazzo dei Priori, (the First Citizen’s Palace, also known as the Town Hall) a wonderful example of medieval architecture built between 1290 and 1440 in Gothic style; this houses the Sala dei Notari (the notaries' hall) of the late 13th century, which is decorated with 15th century frescoes, whilst the stalls and wooden bar date back to 1500. The Collegio della Mercanzia (Merchants Guild) in which the most impressive room is the Grand Jury Hearing room is completely covered with wooden panels from the 15th century.
The palace also houses the Town Hall and The National Gallery of Umbria; definitely worth a visit to see the valuable and extensive collection of Umbrian art masterpieces, dating back from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Adjacent to Palazzo dei Priori stands the Collegio del Cambio, the historic seat of the Exchange Guild, with its magnificent hall frescoed by Perugino.
Going back up Corso Vannucci, past Piazza della Repubblica, you will arrive at Piazza Italia. Here you will find the entrance to the underground city of the 15th century Rocca Paolina Fortress, the work of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, which offers visitors the wonders of a fascinating underground tour. The bare ruins are particularly large and show the remains of the ancient medieval Fortress: the streets, including Bagliona street- the centre point of the neighborhood, the well and water tanks, two gunnery posts and sentry posts for the fort. In addition, it houses the remains of the Etruscan Gateway - Marzia (3rd century BC) and the homes of the Baglioni family, owners and lords of the city until its surrender to the papal troops in 1540, which occurred after the salt war.
Other outstanding buildings, dating back to the 15th century, are those of the Captain of the People, the Old University and the baroque Gallenga Stuart Palace, which is the site of today's University for Foreigners. The Church of St. Angelo, the oldest church was built in a circular plan, between the fifth and sixth century. It has a 14th century Gothic doorway and Corinthian style capitals on the internal columns. Another fascinating church is the 14th century Basilica of San Domenico, rebuilt internally in the first half of the 17th century, with a large stained-glass window by the Nardo Brothers and frescoes attributed to Taddeo of Bartolo.
The Oratory of San Bernardino from the Renaissance period, has a polychrome façade with beautiful bas-reliefs from 1457-61 by Agostino di Duccio. Archaeology enthusiasts should visit the National Archaeological Museum, in the former convent of San Domenico, which has collections covering a period of time ranging from Paleolithic times to Villanova, Etruscan and Roman.