Not Your Grandma’s Bus Tour of Italy, Day III

Perugia

Perugia

This is the third installment in a seven-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Head back to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1Day 2Day 4Day 5Day 6 or Day 7 of the tour.

 

DAY 3

Perugia
Freakishly cool and full of university students, Perugia is a blend of eclectic modern with an ancient cultural heart. A pissed-off Pope Paolo III is to thank/blame for building the Roco Paolino over the houses of the Baglioni family and their neighbors. By doing so, he managed to create an underground world in a state of preservation. It wasn’t until Italy became a unified country that the Roco Paolino was torn down, exposing the original city walkways and structures. Today you can take escalators down to the hidden streets and join in on the high energy of local university students selling books, art, putting on theatrical performances and playing kissy face in the corners.

The hidden Perugia

The hidden Perugia

Perugia’s main walking street is full of retailers and restaurants, so from running shoes to underwear you can find just about anything you need and then relax with a drink and nibbles at one of the laid back pubs. I would recommend making an evening stop at the enchanting carousel, which is on a small square near the escalators to the underground city (ask a local university student to point the way).

Old carousel in Perugia

Old carousel in Perugia

Our accommodations, Sangallo Place Hotel, was an easy walk to the sites and main shopping area, but thankfully not on top of all the noise. It wasn’t as luxurious as the other hotels on our tour, but it was very clean with spacious rooms and the staff were friendly and helpful. It’s just perfect after a day of traipsing around Perugia and, if you’re so inclined, it has a decent gym to work off all the delicious Italian goodies.

Assisi

Assisi

Assisi
A short day trip from Perugia is Assisi. Rambling cobblestone with magnificent views into a valley —sounds redundant, but it was never boring. This is a tourist town, but one that has kept to its origins and you feel it, smell it, taste it. Lots of local crafts to be bought, chocolates and pastries to be tasted and gourmet foods that may or may not make it home. It was a Sunday, and beautifully attired Italians shared the streets with tourists headed to the tombs of St. Francis and St. Clare. Entering the sarcophagus of St. Francis there is a palpable change in the air, the tone is somber and I witnessed people moved to tears as they held on to the iron crosses that adorn the sides of the stone where the casket lay.

Olives in the hands of the expert - Spello

Olives in the hands of the expert – Spello

Spello
Olive oil is taken very seriously in Italy and we had the great fortune to visit Frantoio Ragani, a mom & pop olive farm in Spello. The process is simple, but the product is extraordinary. As a rule, all olive oil must be extra virgin (cold pressed) in Italy and it’s so densely rich with nutrients that the locals have been dipping bread in it to enrich their children’s diets for centuries. We were given free reign to explore the property and fed freshly pressed olive oil on toast that had been made over an open fire. Charmingly authentic and a great opportunity to meet locals—and as a bonus Insight Vacations sent us all home with a tin of Frantoio Ragani olive oil.

Spello (4)

Fresh olive oil over fire toasted bread

This is the third installment in a seven-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Head back to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1Day 2Day 4Day 5Day 6 or Day 7 of the tour.

About Cynthia Cunniff

Cynthia Cunniff’s writing background spans marketing, PR, magazine editorial and travel blogging. She’s a graduate of the creative writing program at CSU Long Beach and went on to UCLA to further her writing skills. Growing up as a military dependent, she lived in several foreign countries and areas of the US. Post college she returned to international living and resided in London for close to a decade, where she took advantage of proximity to the rest of Europe and traveled extensively. She currently lives in the beautiful South Bay of Los Angeles, and Tweets about traveling in the U.S. and throughout the world @localpathworld.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Another great installment! Sign me up!

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  1. […] through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Check out Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 and follow the rest of her journey as new segments are added daily the rest of the […]

  2. […] Cunniff through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 and follow the rest of her journey as new segments are added daily the rest of the […]

  3. […] to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 or Day 7 of the […]

  4. […] Head back to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 or Day 7 of the […]

  5. […] to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 or Day 6 of the […]

  6. […] 1 — Rome Day 2 — The Vatican and Orvieto Day 3 — Perugia, Assisi and Spello Day 4 — Cortona and Fonterutoli Day 5 — San Gimignano Day 6 — Modena and Venice Day 7 — […]

  7. […] Not Your Grandma’s Bus Tour of Italy Day 1 — Rome Day 2 — The Vatican and Orvieto Day 3 — Perugia, Assisi and Spello Day 4 — Cortona and Fonterutoli Day 5 — San Gimignano Day 6 — Modena and Venice Day 7 — […]

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