Written by moatway on 06 May, 2004
Driving into Perugia from the south isn’t particularly difficult for although the city sprawls over a considerable area, the historical city center is actually quite small. If you follow the signs to the Piazza d’Europe, you will come to a large parking garage priced at…Read More
Driving into Perugia from the south isn’t particularly difficult for although the city sprawls over a considerable area, the historical city center is actually quite small. If you follow the signs to the Piazza d’Europe, you will come to a large parking garage priced at less than a Euro an hour. You should be able to find a couple of escalators to help you get the rest of the way up the hill and signs to "Centro" abound. It’s only a short walk up the Corso Cavour before you pop out onto the Piazza IV November. Another parking option is at Piazza dei Partigiani where an escalator will take you right up to Rocca Paolina.
Rocca Paolina was a large fortress built by the papacy to control the city. After 300 years the city was liberated and much of the fortress was torn down to create space for the Place Italia, which contains a statue of Victor Emanuelle. When the parking escalators were installed, the remaining rooms of the fortress were opened up. Their mass and height gives an impression of what a place it must have been. (There’s not a lot to see here, but it is worth looking at). As you emerge from the fortress, you will want to walk to the little park at the edge of the city plateau for the great views over lower Perugia.
From the Place Italia, you have the option of a couple of streets through the central core of Perugia to reach the Piazza IV November (Take the street to the left of Place Italia as you leave the Rocca, the Corso Vannucci), where you will find the beautiful Palazzo dei Priori (town hall), the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, the Fontana Maggiore (a beautiful 13th-century fountain), the Duomo and the Tourist Information Office. Just a stone’s throw down the Corso Vannucci, which is pedestrianized is the Collegio del Cambio, an art museum.
So it’s the little hill-town that grew up. . . but almost everything that you will want to see is within a few minutes of Piazza IV November. Because it grew up, there is also a large selection of good shopping and places to eat. . . great town.
Written by Far Afield on 14 Dec, 2004
One week to go.
I don't know about you, but before a big trip like this, I tend to get the butterflies. Time seems to alternate between madly racing towards departure time and dragging on forever. As the date approaches, we've continued to make preparations, scouring…Read More
One week to go.
I don't know about you, but before a big trip like this, I tend to get the butterflies. Time seems to alternate between madly racing towards departure time and dragging on forever. As the date approaches, we've continued to make preparations, scouring the Internet for helpful tips and scheduling details. The Internet has been invaluable in helping make preparations.
Did you know that for most museums, you can purchase tickets in advance? At most of the major museums you can buy tickets online, avoiding long lines and queues. You can also check the hours and holiday schedules. This is doubly important because Italy closes down between the hours of 1pm and 4pm on a normal schedule. Around the holidays, they close even earlier.
So far, I've booked tickets to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and have times and phone numbers as well as opening/closing schedules for a number of museums like the Accademia Galleria and Vatican Museum (Sistine Chapel).
Be mindful, too, that just like in the States, many of the museums are closed on Mondays.
My son Jason and I found this out when we were in Rome for a three-day stop-over around New Year's of 1996-7. It shouldn't surprise anyone if you really think about it, but it's one of those quirks about planning trips around holidays. My only advice is to plan for early closings, call ahead, and check schedules.
New Year's, too, is a big social event. Italians celebrate much like Americans, with a few notable exceptions. If you are in a city on New Year's Eve, keep an eye on the sky. One of the favorite things for Italians to do is to throw out old stuff and start off the New Year with new things. They can throw anything out--furniture, bottles, dishware--anything. And I mean throw... they will do it from the third-, fourth-, or fifth-floor windows. Woe to you if you happen to just be passing by at the time. I've heard tell that one person even saw a toilet that someone had thrown out an upper-story window.
Written by Far Afield on 06 Nov, 2004
This week I made the second payment on the villa with Doorways in Bryn Mawr.
If you have never rented a villa, it can be challenging (if your schedule doesn't match theirs) and expensive--like renting a house at the shore for a week.…Read More
This week I made the second payment on the villa with Doorways in Bryn Mawr.
If you have never rented a villa, it can be challenging (if your schedule doesn't match theirs) and expensive--like renting a house at the shore for a week. Plus, many places will accommodate 6 or 8 people--some even 12 or 14. My criteria for a rental unit were like the transportation criteria, complicated and unusual. We only needed space for three or four people at most.
In my search, I found that most places will only rent a place from Saturday to Saturday. Because we aren't arriving in Italy until Tuesday, that presented a challenge. Half the week would be over, and we'd have to vacate the place on Saturday. Since Christmas is on Saturday this year, the likelihood someone would check us out was minimal. So, my challenge had been to find a place that would go for a week or more, from Tuesday to Tuesday, over the Christmas holiday. In addition, I really wanted to stay 8 or 9 days instead of just a week.
I posed that question to Doorways, and they said they would contact the owner. I waited a couple of days for the answer to come back. Yes, they would be willing to rent the apartment for that period. Hooray!
One of the other criteria was to find a place that was as centrally located as possible, but not too far from Rome, Perugia, or Florence.
While not the most modern or lively looking of towns, if you do an internet search, Cetona fits most of the criteria I had in choosing a place. The location was good-- near the border between Tuscany and Umbria and within about 3 hours of Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Perugia. It was not far from the main highway between Rome and Florence and was near a main train station (Chiusi). It was off the beaten path (definitely) and a place where we will get a flavor of real Italian life. By the way, Cetona is mentioned by Frances Mayes in her book, Bella Tuscany.
As our departure time draws near, I feel the excitement building. Fortunately I am so busy that my mind stays occupied with other things.
One of the other things Doorways has provided us with is their own booklets on Tuscany, Umbria, and other places. They have their own restaurant guides and booklets of information about the area from their own travels. So far, I would highly recommend them to anyone. The final recommendation will come after the trip, when we see how our overall experience went.
We have 6 weeks and counting! Today's date: Nov 6, 2004.
Written by Far Afield on 03 Oct, 2004
The tickets booked, we have begun to plan the actual trip. We will be meeting our daughter after her study abroad program is complete for an almost two-week stay in Italy. Planned destinations are Umbria, Perugia and Assisi, Tuscany, Florence and Pisa, and…Read More
The tickets booked, we have begun to plan the actual trip. We will be meeting our daughter after her study abroad program is complete for an almost two-week stay in Italy. Planned destinations are Umbria, Perugia and Assisi, Tuscany, Florence and Pisa, and Rome. I'm also hoping to make it to San Marino if we have time.
After booking the airline, the next article of business was were to stay.
I first started by reading journals from other people and looking at the map of Umbria and Tuscany. Since we will be there for almost two weeks, it soon began to make sense to find one place that was centrally located and then drive or take the train/bus on day trips to cities nearby.
I began by looking at hotel costs in major towns. Ugh. With the exchange rate, hotels for three people began to be a bit more expensive than I had planned in our meager budget. Isn't there anything out there besides hostels that could fit the bill?
Again, after an exhausting -- though certainly not exhaustive -- search, I began to figure out that it would be worth our while to rent a villa. I finally found a place that rents villas, and they had a local office for me.
Still skeptical and hoping that it wasn't a boiler room operation, I drove to the office and spoke with the people there. I was very pleasantly surprised.
The name of the place is called Doorways. They rent villas in Italy, Spain and France, though they focus primarily on Italy. We found a small villa in a southern Tuscan town called Cetona.
Cetona is one of the many small towns that dot the hill country of southern Toscana. If any one is interested, it's near Chiusi. Pictures of the villa we are renting are attached to this entry.
Using guidebooks for the rest of the trip, I booked a hotel for the last few days we will be in Italy for Rome.
It's amazing how much time researching airlines, fares, and schedules, making the actual reservations, and figuring out the basic scheduling takes. One of my givens is that I always want to make the most of our time in any new place, so that means for me that I spend quite a bit of time researching sights, opening and closing times, and alternatives like train schedules.
Written by DrMaximus on 10 Mar, 2002
If you are planning on staying and perhaps studying in Perugia, you will do well getting yourself an apartment. For foreigners this is usually a major problem because Italian bureaucracy hardly allows for such arrangements. The University is affiliated with Atena Service, which locates accommodation…Read More
If you are planning on staying and perhaps studying in Perugia, you will do well getting yourself an apartment. For foreigners this is usually a major problem because Italian bureaucracy hardly allows for such arrangements. The University is affiliated with Atena Service, which locates accommodation according to your needs and wishes.
Atena service is located 300 metres from the University. Upon exiting the University main door, turn left and you will see a lane going downhill, it's between a bookstore (tabaccheria) and a cafe. Follow the road down a hundred metres and you will see Atena Service.
At the start of each trimester the queues are endless, and one usually has to stay in line for hours, at least two. And lodging is NOT guaranteed especially if you are looking for single rooms and bachelor suites. The agents are usually friendly but they can get unpleasant in the thick of matters. Stay calm, go grab a capuccino at the nearby Cafe Roma.
Agent fees are 7% of your monthly rental, for the whole period. If you pay by methods apart from cash, there will be an additional surcharge of about 4.5%. Be sure to ask for your Atena-UQS card which is good for numerous discounts in town and out.
Check out their website at www.atenaservice.com
Many students from all over the world congregate in what has been declared the most famous Foreigners' University in all of Italy. Courses run several sessions a year, with five levels of competency. The fifth level takes 6 months while the other levels each take…Read More
Many students from all over the world congregate in what has been declared the most famous Foreigners' University in all of Italy. Courses run several sessions a year, with five levels of competency. The fifth level takes 6 months while the other levels each take 3 months. Students choose to sit for exams and earn a certificate upon successfully passing it, or one can request for a certificate of attendance.
Courses are varied to suit individual tastes, ranging for History of Music, Art and Italian Theatre, to Translation, Literature, Music, Choral, Finance, Law and Economics courses.
Cost for each 3 month session is currently Lire 450,000 (about 240Euros). Several scholarships are available especially if you are from the European Union. The University also admits numerous students on the ERASMUS exchange program.
The University is housed within the Palazzo Gallenga, itself a major historical building situated right next to the glorious Etruscan Arch.
Written by DrMaximus on 03 Mar, 2002
With the help of a city map readily available at the main ‘TouristPoint’ offices (at the Stazione Ferrovia FS, another beside the Fontana Maggiore at Corso Vannucci, or also conveniently located is another at Piazza Partigiani). The city has followed a "star-shaped" growth as a…Read More
With the help of a city map readily available at the main ‘TouristPoint’ offices (at the Stazione Ferrovia FS, another beside the Fontana Maggiore at Corso Vannucci, or also conveniently located is another at Piazza Partigiani). The city has followed a "star-shaped" growth as a result of historical and architectural influences, so it’s comfortable to plan five walking itineraries each covering one ‘leg’ of the star. But everybody will be able to improvise his or her own tour as taste or whim dictates without diminishing in any way the charm and pleasure that the city offers.
The five standard walking tours are: The Porta Sant’Angelo itinerary starting off Palazzo dei Priori and ending off at Piazza Danti, the Porta San Susanna itinerary which kicks off at Palazzo dei Priori and ends at the Oratorio di Santa Cecilia. The Porta Sole itinerary takes one from Palazzetto dei Notari to the Etruscan Well, while the Porta Eburnea itinerary includes visits to the Colleggi del Cambio, Chiesa di San Sospiro and the former San Benedetto Church. Finally, and my favourite too, is the comfortable walk between the Chiesa di San Domenico, Chiesa di San Pietro and the Three Arches, the Porta San Pietro itinerary.
Written by Far Afield on 29 Jan, 2005
As noted in the previous entry, we spent the evening of our seventh day in a small town called Empoli. Empoli is right off the autostrada about halfway between Pisa and Florence. (See hotel entry.) The only remarkable thing about Empoli was…Read More
As noted in the previous entry, we spent the evening of our seventh day in a small town called Empoli. Empoli is right off the autostrada about halfway between Pisa and Florence. (See hotel entry.) The only remarkable thing about Empoli was the local Trattoria where we ate dinner. (See dining entry.)
From Empoli, we spent the next day in Florence again. We took the opportunity to see a few of the things that we didn't see in our first visit to Florence. As before, the weather finally broke and we had a beautiful day to be out and about in a city.
Toward one end of the market, my wife found a really nice leather vest of which the proprietar was so "kindly" extolling the virtues, there was a whirlwind of a commotion. The guys who were on the corner with their "wares" spread out on a blanket on the ground, picked up what they could grab and fled the area. About two seconds later, the local constables rounded the corner after them. They didn't pursue them long and came back to pick up what pirated CD's and DVD's they had left behind. I had wondered how tolerated this was in Italy, compared to Philly and quickly found out that it's about the same.
Behind this end of the market is a large building that is amazingly similar to our Reading Terminal Market in Philly. Inside are many of the same kinds of things one finds here: stalls selling produce, fish, and meats, and eateries, along with shops filled with locally made products and goods.
After lunch we went to the Accademia Galleria. There were two things that really stick in my mind from our visit.
The first is not knowing when we would make it there, we didn't get advance reservations and had to wait in line for about an hour before getting in. After waiting so long all that time,I wondered how long the line would be on a spring or summer day when it was tourist season... so if you go Be Prepared for a wait.
The second was how disappointed I was with the gallery. There are essentially two rooms to the gallery if your are looking for art. The first room is the room you enter where there are paintings yb Pietro Perugio, Ghirlandio and Granacci with a smattering of lesser known artists. Walk through one door and you find the statue David at the find far end of the hall. Besides some other sculpture and a few paintings, the only thing there was the statue.
Now mind you, David, as a sculpture is grand. The scale and artistry takes your breath away. It is worth seeing on its own... but being used to Museums here in the states... I was disappointed with the museum, not the art.
Tucked in a back corner of the museum is a small musical collection. Now this was an unexpected treat. The first thing that caught my attention was a 600 year old hammered dulcimer, built around 1400 AD. Also, included in their collection were old harpsicords, pianofortes and an oval piano with removeable keys. Stringed instruments included a Stradivari violin and a few other instruments made in Florence. All of these were part of the Grand Duke Medici's family collection.
After Florence, we headed back to Cetona for our last night and then to Rome the next day.
Written by Far Afield on 04 Jan, 2005
After spending Sunday in Perugia again, on Monday we made our way through the Tuscan countryside to the northwestern coast of Italy and Pisa. The southern Tuscan region is mostly mountain and hills. It's hard to compare it to a place in the…Read More
After spending Sunday in Perugia again, on Monday we made our way through the Tuscan countryside to the northwestern coast of Italy and Pisa. The southern Tuscan region is mostly mountain and hills. It's hard to compare it to a place in the States, but I guess it would be most like some of the areas around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia or some areas of Ireland, with rolling hills and larger mountains in the distance. Two differences are that Italy is not what I would call a wooded countryside--we have seen some forests, especially around Chianciano Terme, but mostly the hills are green pasture--and the valleys are plowed and furrowed fields waiting for the early Tuscan spring.
Arriving in Siena a bit after 11am, we spent a couple of hours visiting the cathedral there and the Piazza de Campo, where they have the annual horse races around the square. Siena is an unusual city in that it's divided into 17 districts, or families, and each family has a designation that hangs outside of the house. We found two: the rooster and the fish.
From Siena, we cut across the rest of the Tuscan countryside for Pisa, arriving shortly before dark. Along with all the other throngs of tourists, we did our part to help keep the leaning tower from falling. Deciding to not travel back to the villa so we could spend another day in Florence tomorrow, we spent this night in a town called Empoli, at a hotel called Il Sole. Halfway between Pisa and Florence, it seemed like an ideal place to stop for the night.
Italy doesn't have much comparable to Red Roof or Days Inns, so if you are looking for a place to stay, it’s in the center of a town and is usually an older hotel. Il Sole, while clean and comfortable, isn't what I would call a four-star accommodation. There’s no attached restaurant, and plenty of lights could use a few extra bulbs. The proprietors were saving money on everything--including having only one light bulb in a four-light chandelier. It did have beds and a good price for four adults.
Written by Far Afield on 02 Jan, 2005
December 23, 2004 - In the first 3 days in Italy, we've covered a lot of ground - and I do mean a lot! Day 3 saw us back in Perugia, then on to Assisi, and finally back to Perugia for dinner before heading…Read More
December 23, 2004 - In the first 3 days in Italy, we've covered a lot of ground - and I do mean a lot! Day 3 saw us back in Perugia, then on to Assisi, and finally back to Perugia for dinner before heading back to Cetona for the night. By the end of the day, we will have logged almost 600km by train, foot, or car.
Perugia, like Cetona, is built on top of a mountain. The differences are that it's a city, not a village, and it's a mountain, not a hill. On top of the mountain is the oldest part of the city. The top of the hill is dominated by the square and lined with hotels, the fortress, and the basilica. In many of the buildings, one can see the various layers of settlements and buildings, from Etruscan to Roman to medieval to modern. There isn't anything in the U.S. to compare it to, with the layers of civilizations built one on top of the other using the same materials.
Our daughter enjoyed playing the role of tour guide, except that much of what we wanted to see was not where the students hung out but more about the history of the city. There are many things we could have done in Perugia, but over the course of 2 days, and during the entire trip, we had to pick and choose. We visited the Umbrian National Gallery, the main Duomo, the Rocca Paolino, and the central shopping area. We could have easily spent most of our time here and in Assisi.
The Galleria Nazionale dell' Umbria was founded in 1863 and has occupied the third floor of Palazzo dei Priori since 1879. The Gallery is the most modern and best-arranged gallery we visited in our entire trip. Devoted to displaying works entirely by artists from the Umbrian region, there were works by Perugino and other regional artists. The exhibition layout is organised chronologically and by painting schools. It documents the development of painting in Umbria from the Middle Ages to fairly recent times and includes several masterpieces of Italian art from between the 13th and the 18th centuries.
The things I like about the museum were that the artworks themselves were not crowded but aesthetically displayed (unlike the Uffizi or Accademia Galleria in Florence or Vatican Museum in Rome); each piece and room had clear explanations of the pieces, their importance, and a little history about each work; and the rooms were dedicated to the artist or school or artists so that you could get a sense of the progression of style by the various masters and their students.
The Duomo in Perugia too is unlike the Duomo in Florence. Besides being large (which all the main churches or cathedrals are in Italy), the facade is plain and unadorned. Inside it seemed more like a living church and less of a showplace.
From Perugia we went to Assisi and saw the Cathedral of St. Frances, along with the small chapel inside and the tomb of St. Francis. This too is a living place of worship and probably the most spiritual of all the places we visited.
Back in Perugia for dinner, we ate at La Laterana and had our first taste of the famous Italian black truffles. It's hard to compare the taste because it's so different from American mushrooms or even Porchini mushrooms. It is definitely worth going back for! Yum!