1. / 01.

    With my impeding 32nd Birthday imminent, we headed back to Italy as has been the recent tradition. Umbria and its capital Perugia was our base for this visit.

    A windy day on top of Umbria

    Un giorno ventoso in cima Umbria

    Despite the numerous online forums complaining about the difficulty of getting a public bus from the airport to the city centre, it proved remarkably pain free and inexpensive, albeit with a few basic words of Italian.

    The Hotel Fortuna, our base for the trip, was right in the centre of the historic old town, tucked way down a back street just off main Piazza Italia and Corsa Vannucci. Having checked in (and checked the room out) we headed back out for a little stroll in the late afternoon sunshine. Blessed with blue skies in every direction and a howling gale that also seemed to stem from every direction, we gathered our bearings on the small but charming main piazza. Its hillside location was once its greatest defence, while these days offering spectacular vistas of the local Umbrian countryside, it's easy to see why Perugia attracts the tourist busses.

    Unfortunately, the long day and warm bus ride combined with shaking off an old bug had made me feel very unwell. So much so, that even a warm plate of Tortellini and Guinness (it was an Irish bar ironically) couldn’t stave off some much needed sleep. In what was possible the earliest ever bedtime recorded, lights were out at 9.00pm!


    01 /. The Roman aqueduct

    02 /. The Hotel Fortuna at night

    03 /. Looking back at Perugia from the Market

    04 /. Dan in Piazza Italia

    05 /. Clare in front of the Catherdal

    A day walking in old Perugia

    Camminare nella vecchia Perugia

    After a long nights sleep and a good continental breakfast, I felt considerably better despite the passing of my 32nd Birthday! Likewise outside the blue skies persisted as did the howling wind. The centre of Perugia is accessible by foot and can be explored easily within 24 hours. Having ticked off several of the more obvious sites we sat under the shade of the Cathedral and grabbed a bottle of water. Unfortunately we weren’t alone and the pigeons above said ciao by defecating on my leg! At least the water came in handy.

    The old city walls and back alleys of Perugia are a photographer's dream with angles and stunning views a plenty. Every twist and turn around the hillside opens up a fresh vista. With a maze of tunnels dating back before Roman times the city is also a historian's dream with layers upon layers of the city past on display.
    The Rocca Paolina, a 16th century which no longer exists but occupied the area nearby the Piazza Italia, offers one of the more unusual escalator journeys. The stairs go straight down into the ancient medieval streets of Perugia, now covered by soil and buildings. The streets are still used to this day as a thoroughfare and shop stalls.

    The Roman aqueduct which is now a footpath near the University, offers some great photo opportunities due to its inter twining route under arches and above houses. Walking along it is a surreal experience, as you gaze into third floor windows!

    The Corsa Vannucci is the main artery of the town, connecting the stunning views near Piazza Italia, past the Cathedral and into the tiny cobbled back streets. Dusk offers time for the great Italian tradition of Passeggiata, with people sitting around on the steps of the Cathedral in the main piazza.


    01 /. Looking south from the Market

    02 /. One of the many ancient archways

    03 /. Statue detail (without pigeon!)

    04 /. One of the old gateways

    05 /. Inside the Cathedral

    06 /. Looking down the Roman aquaduct

    07 /. Sunset in Umbria

    08 /. Clare gazing towards the south of the town

    09 /. View from Rossi Scotti

    10 /. Out of the old City gates

    11 /. Heading back towards our hotel

    12 /. The Perugia courthouse at night

    13 /. Neon sign detail

    14 /. The old town hall

    15 /. Perugia Cathedral at dusk

    16 /. View of the Corso Vannucci late at night


    Language and culture

    Lingua e cultura

    When you think of Italian cuisine, a Choco Kebab probably isn’t the first you would think of. However, that exactly what we had! With limited Italian and no English, ordering proved a little tricky, but the resulting kebab was great. (Basically a crepe with cream, Nutella, cameral and flaked chocolate – although any number of combinations was possible!)

    Despite the International University, Perugia was the first place we visited in Italy, where English wasn’t universally spoken or guaranteed. Not that English wasn’t understood, but the locals seemed quite happy for me to bumble along in Italian without resorting to English straight away. For the most part I was understood despite missing out on a soup one evening – you can’t win them all!


    01 /. Various posters, marketing and signs from Perugia

    02 /. View from the Cathedral steps

    03 /. Saturday evening Passeggiata

    04 /. Clare posing among the natives

    05 /. Various portraits of us including Clare cleaning bird poo!

    06 /. A choco Kebab from Perugia


  2. / 02.

    Sunday morning and a trip to see one of Umbria's most famous sons...

    A morning with Francesco...

    Una mattinata con Francesco...

    With a day trip to the surrounding area planned, we headed for the train station which was about 2 km from the town centre. This gave us the opportunity to use the Mini Metro Railway which is monorail line running from the outskirts of town to the city centre. Both over and underground, the unmanned carriages run every 2 mins for a euro, saving a steep walk.


    01 /. The Perugian 'Underground'

    02 /. Perugian Mini Metro

    03 /. Assisi Train Station

    04 /. The old entrance into Assisi

    Assisi, the town synonymous with Francesco was our first stop. Along with half the population of Umbria it seemed, we made our way to the famous monastic buildings. Unfortunately as it was Sunday morning there was a service in full swing. It seemed inappropriate and intrusive to linger too long although many visitors continued obliviously. Having taken the obligatory tourist shots we climbed the narrow streets to the heart of Assisi. Deceptively bigger than it first looks, the town is charming but with a keen eye to cash in on its most famous resident.


    01 /. Tourist pose outside Assisi

    02 /. Assisi town centre

    03 /. The local law and order on patrol

    04 /. Relegious detail

    05 /. The restored Assisi Cathedral

    06 /. Francesco himself...

    07 /. Cathedral details

    08 /. Assisi town centre buildings

    09 /. The view from the top of Assisi

    10 /. Clare resting and taking in the views


  3. / 03.

    Having spent the morning in Assisi we travelled back across the Umbrian countryside to the shores of Lake Trasimeno, one of the largest inland lakes in central Italy.

    An afternoon by the lake

    Un pomeriggio sul lago

    Having disembarked the 13:17 train from Assisi at the small lakeside town of Passignano Sul Trasimeno, we headed for its sleepy centre by the lake shore. Hungry and in need of refreshment we grabbed a Panini and basked in some genuine heat from the sun. Even the odd Italian took off their scarf! The Sunday afternoon weather brought out the local families, joggers, dog walkers and those just in need of some quiet time by the water. The tranquil atmosphere was a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds in the morning and a very pleasant place to while away a few hours.


    01 /. Dancing fish in the lake

    02 /. Sunday afternoon stroll at the lake

    03 /. Dan looking nautical

    04 /. Possibly the worlds biggest frying pan?

    05 /. The old Castle at Passignano sul Trasimeno

    06 /. Feeling some heat away from the wind

    07 /. Lake Trasimeno itself!

    08 /. Train station detail