Sunday, April 6, 2008

City of stairs and escalators

Since we still had the car today, we decided to go to Perugia, where my parents had not yet been, and which is a little less than two hours away in Umbria. This time we took the "autostrada," which was not quite as scenic as the little country roads, but a lot faster. In Perugia, we found a parking spot (free on weekends!) and made our way to the city center. Since Perugia is another one of those cities on a hill, it was quite a climb up to the center, though luckily the city has installed a set of strategically placed escalators that make the trip a lot easier. Some of them even go through very old buildings!
Perugia itself was quite scenic, dating back to Etruscan times a few centuries B.C. We didn't go into any of the sights you had to pay for, but we did see the inside of the cathedral, which was being renovated, and the hall of notaries, which was elaborately decorated with medieval wall paintings. What I liked most was the Church of Sant' Angelo, which was at one end of the city, and dates back to the 6th century. It's simplicity and tranquility stood out for me. We ate at a place recommended by the Lonely Planet, where there was no menu, and you got crostini, two types of pasta, roasted meat and salad, a dessert and a shot of "vin santo" for 13 Euros per person. Yes, you need a coffee to get you out of your chair after a meal like that!
On the way back, we stopped in Lucignano, one of those Tuscan towns from postcards, where no tourists seem to have made it to, even though it's only 10 minutes from the highway. The streets wind around a hill in concentric ovals, and this town of 3500 people has no less than 7 churches. This would definitely be a nice place to stay and relax for a night or two.

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