This is Floyd, of course, not one of those locals. However, as we shall see, Floyd would not mind becoming a local by moving into an apartment right above the shop that makes and sells his favorite gelato of all the ones we tasted.
In some places, signs gave indications of
real people who lived their lives here.
This was most welcome, as many of the
sites we visited were sadly lacking in such
intimate historical details.
I felt like we could walk right down and knock on the
I also felt as if I could hear these stone streets jammed with people, carts, donkeys, pigs, chickens, and children running around shouting. We tried not to imagine the smell.
Up on the surface, two things about Perugia: the apparently endless series of mazes that make up the old city’s neighborhoods –
(keep in mind that most of these alleyways allow motor vehicle traffic. Perugia is the one place where we saw a delivery truck scrape itself on a wall. The truck in the photo below is competing for space with a gaggle of school kids who had to duck into doorways to get out of its way. As you might imagine, there aren’t that many vehicles in perfect condition in Perugia, and it’s not unusual to see people step out of the car they just parked and fold in their side-view mirrors.)
– and, of course, the piazze.
Piazza IV Novembre was named to commemorate the signing of the armistice between the Kingdom of Italy and Austria – even though the armistice was actually signed on November 3rd. It was near our hotel, so we spent a good deal of time there exploring every side street and conducting extensive and methodical gelato research. Romans and Etruscans gathered there in the Middle Ages, and all kinds of people gather there now.
Fontana Maggiore stands on the same end of the piazza as the cathedral. Built to celebrate the construction of Perugia’s aqueduct and the arrival of abundant water, it’s a real beauty.
At this end the piazza stands the Catedrale di San Lorenzo, under construction between 1395 and 1490. The interior is ornate and impressive. I have no photos of the interior because the sign said no photography. I witnessed multiple tourists disobeying this dictum, and can only imagine the fate of their immortal souls. It was amusing, watching school kids filing in, to see the guard having to remind the boys to take off their hats. In my day, the nun in charge would have smacked them off the offenders’ heads.
Perugia is a college town, too. Every afternoon mobs of young people collect on the broad steps of the cathedral to talk, smoke lots of cigarettes, and drink vast quantities of beer. My Italian skills obviously aren’t up to eavesdropping, but given the extensive and amazing powers of my imagination, and having taught college for all these many years, I figured they were complaining about classes and upcoming exams.
In one of the little streets off Piazza IV Novembre, un capello molto sportivo was waiting for Floyd. Who knew?
It’s terrible, after the level of self-sacrifice involved in Floyd’s comparative gelato study, not to be able to remember the name of his favorite gelateria. But if you are ever in Perugia, in Piazza IV Novembre, with your back to the Fontana Maggiore, walk all the way down to exit the piazza on a little street on your right. A few steps after you exit the piazza, a little while before you see that blue sign with the hats, you will find a gelateria on your right. Try the amarena.
On our one rainy day in Perugia we decided to try to find a Deruta 1282 pottery showroom because I have a sick compulsion to look at pretty things I can’t afford. Deruta 1282 is a consortium intended to preserve the hand-painted craftsmanship that’s been practiced by the Deruta pottery since then. Since 1282, that is. They make that colorful ceramic ware – from thimbles to dining tables – that bears the familiar Italianate designs. There were some great pieces on display in several cases at our hotel.
Here are two views of Perugia from our hotel room, looking out over the ancient part of the city:
And here is one view of our hotel room, offered not only to remind us all of how fun it is to have someone else come every day to make the bed, but also how places have their colors, just like Deruta pottery.
To visit the showroom, all we had to do was find Piazza Umbria Jazz 1 – Uscita Madonna Alta Pian di Massiano Terminal Mini Metro. Cake-walk. After consulting at least three print maps and all the maps we could find online, we felt we had a reasonably good bead on the location. Our hike would serve another purpose, too: Marco had talked about meeting Floyd for the bike shop visit at one of the Mini Metro stops. We’d figure out the Mini Metro and test my will power vis-a-vis pretty things I can’t afford all at the same time.
The outbound hike was often very pretty. We saw lovely old buildings, parks and gardens, and picturesque rainy stairways. Lots and lots of stairways.
And at Mediterraneo, you don’t even have to share: everybody gets a pizza all their own.