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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.

Sangallo Plaace Hotel - room in Perugia
Sangallo Plaace Hotel - room in Perugia
Street vendor in Perugia
Street vendor in Perugia
Assisi walkway
Assisi walkway
View from Assisi
View from Assisi
Gelateria in Assisi
Gelateria in Assisi
Watching tourists in Assisi
Watching tourists in Assisi
Assisi
Assisi
Marco giving info on St. Francis
Marco giving info on St. Francis
View from Assisi
View from Assisi
Puppy Leo checking out the goods
Puppy Leo checking out the goods
Cynthia Cunniff

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1 Comment On "Not Your Grandma's Bus Tour of Italy, Day III"
  1. Anonymous|

    Another great installment! Sign me up!

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