Italy Vacation: Perugia Recap

Greetings and salutations! We arrived in Florence yesterday around lunchtime, so I want to get my recap of our time in Perugia out to you while it’s still fresh in my mind.

outfit details

In case you’re unaware, Perugia is the capitol of the Umbrian region of Italy, and it’s truly a hidden gem. After the crowds in Rome, it was such a breath of fresh air to visit a more off-the-beaten-path part of this beautiful country.

We arrived at the historic Hotel Brufani on Sunday morning, after an easy 2-hour drive from Rome.

It’s located in the heart of downtown Perugia, with beautiful views of the picturesque valleys on either side of Monte Cucco.

Our suite of rooms were ready when we arrived, and we were pleasantly surprised by the space and old world charm of this luxurious hotel that dates back to 1884. We had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a sitting room that were all connected, which was perfect for our family of five.

My first impression was that the decor appeared a bit tired and in need of updating, but it was clean and had all the modern amenities (including a stocked mini bar and all the typical toiletry products, soft and oversized bath towels, and generous robes.)

The service was also quite excellent, and I soon began to appreciate the commitment to maintaining the authentic decor that’s in keeping with its rich history. I would definitely stay there again.

It also didn’t hurt that they have a superb restaurant and bar, which overlooks the gorgeous valley below. We were pleased with every meal we ate there, as well as the service and the leisurely pace.

Perugia is a something of a “college town”, as it’s home to the University of Perugia, and it’s far less crowded and touristy than Rome or Florence. When we went out to explore and find some lunch in our first afternoon, we immediately fell in love with the medieval town and its Gothic architecture.

It’s built into the hillside, with steep cobbled streets and a myriad of narrow alleyways that almost always lead to a new and fascinating discovery, and it’s full of shops and restaurants as well as apartments and living quarters for the locals and college students.

Here’s just an example of the sites you see at every turn. I soon found myself taking photos of all the unique doors.

We grabbed a quick lunch at a little sandwich shop, where the owner spoke little English, but we all did our best to communicate, and it was delicious. He got a kick out of David ordering a giant meat and cheese platter, and was impressed when it all got consumed.

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at an espresso bar and got coffee drinks, and then the girls and I did some shopping while Paul and David relaxed at the hotel.

I can’t even remember what we all did for dinner that night. I think Paul and I ate at the hotel, while the kids did their own thing. Perugia felt safer and more manageable than Rome, and while we were there, we often split up and went different ways, which I think was nice for everyone.

I’m learning that when traveling with adult and quasi-adult kids, it works best to give them some independence. It’s a good way for them to learn some travel skills while we’re nearby and available to jump in and help out when needed. (They never really needed help, but we were there if they had.)

We were up bright and early Monday morning to meet with our guide to explore Perugia and Assisi, which are only 30 minutes apart by car. That’s when we realized that there’s a whole underground city that was Perugia circa 400 BC. That was incredibly fascinating to see.

Our guide explained the history through the ages and how the towns were built on top of each other, while preserving some of the foundations and structures of each along the way.

She also took us into the medieval Priori Palace and showed us the overlook that’s near our hotel, which makes a great photo opp.

After that, we loaded into the van and rode to Assisi, where we had lunch at Ristorante Bar San Francesco and then toured the Basilica of St. Francis and walked the steep cobbled streets of the iconic Italian village.

The remaining afternoon and evening was once again a bit of a free-for-all, with some of us napping and some of us exploring and some of us eating… all at different times.

I just want to state again how nice it was to spend some time in a more relaxed location that was off the beaten path, where we could all rest and explore at our own pace.

Tuesday was a tour of Gubbio, another important Umbrian city, and my favorite place we’ve visited so far.

It’s the best preserved medieval city in all of Italy, according to our tour guide, and I can see why. I felt like I was walking through one of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Some of the buildings date back to 1300!

I kept stopping our guide to clarify that people actually live there. And yes, they do!

outfit details

We started at the church of San Francesco, and then leisurely made our way up the steep, narrow, winding streets, stopping to take pictures and discuss the history and legends of the town.

I bought a beautiful piece of pottery made by one of the local artisans, and our guide was able to translate for us as she explained that all of her pieces are one of a kind which makes it even more special.

We finally made it up to a spot where we could hop on a cable car that took us to the top of the mountain, with amazing views of the city below. That was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’m not much of a thrill seeker, but this was well worth it!

At the top, we hiked the last few meters to see the beautiful Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo. Then we had a light lunch of meat and cheeses with artisan bread, and of course a glass of Prosecco, before heading back to our hotel in Perugia.

It was nice to have an afternoon to relax and regroup before we had to pack up and think about heading to Florence.

We enjoyed dinner together at the Collins Restaurant at our hotel, and then wandered back downtown for gelato and one last walk around the city center.

my dress

After that, it was back to our hotel to pack up because the next morning, we were off to Florence!

Perugia and Gubbio probably aren’t on anyone’s bucket list for Italian vacation destinations, but that’s what made them so appealing to me. It was especially fun to explore an area where I had no preconceived ideas of what it would be like, and I’m so glad we had a quick reprieve between the more crowded, tourist-driven cities of Rome and Florence.

It’s ciao for now, and I’ll be back with a recap from our time in Florence in a few days! Thanks, once again, to Stacey Blum at WhirlAway Travel for planning such an exquisite trip for our family!

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27 Responses

  1. Thanks for the updates! We want to return to Italy and see more of the lesser-known places and sites, and I’m tempted to just copy your itinerary. Fun fact: I looked at your travel specialist’s website and she’s in the town where my brother and his family have lived for many year. We travel there every year and it is a charming town with a great foodie and craft beer scene….we love it. Enjoy the rest of your trip. ~ Karin

  2. Thanks for the updates! We want to return to Italy and see more of the lesser-known places and sites, and I’m tempted to just copy your itinerary. Fun fact: I looked at your travel specialist’s website and she’s in the town where my brother and his family have lived for many year. We travel there every year and it is a charming town with a great foodie and craft beer scene….we love it. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  3. Jo-Lynne-
    What a wonderful trip to enjoy as a family. Thank you for sharing pictures of the beautiful scenery and your family. You all are making priceless memories.
    Enjoy the remainder of your vacation.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Glad y’all are having a great time. Good idea to visit places off the beaten path, I visited Venice and Rome last fall, beautiful but crowded! Have you tried the Aperol Spritz? I practically lived on those while I was there. Enjoy!

  5. Perugia looks absolutely beautiful! I can see why you loved it. I love reading about your trip and following your Stories on Instagram. Our trip is about a month away, so I love reading about yours. I think we are going to be at all super busy, super touristy places (Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, and one night in Rome), but Venice and Florence are places that I have always wanted to go, so I absolutely can’t wait. I’m hoping that within both cities, we can find a way to get off the beaten path. Both of us just like to wander and enjoy. Thanks again for sharing! (I really want you to be able to relax and enjoy your trip, and yet at the same time I love reading about it!)

  6. Looks beautiful, I love those out of the war kind of places! I’d never heard of either town so thanks for sharing! Also what a great idea to buy the pottery as a souvenir, you’ll treasure that for many years. Glad y’all are having such a great time and can’t wait to see your pics from Florence!

  7. Love the recap! Visiting the “off the beaten path” places that aren’t overrun with other tourists allow you to really feel the culture. That’s what we love to do! Enjoy!!

  8. Thank you so much sharing your trip with us! I loved every minute of your post! Enjoy the rest of your adventure! ~ Lori

  9. What a fab vacation you had! Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing. I adore Italy! I’m wondering … what did you use to take your pictures? I only ever carry my iPhone but my photos never look as good as yours.

  10. What a treat to see your post this morning! Love the tours of these beautiful quaint out of the way places, that’s what I love, you can actually relax and explore and really take in all the beauty.
    Love the picture of Caroline in that dress! Such a nice looking family and I actually laughed out loud about the waiter with David’s large food order!

  11. What a terrific article! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you talking about the lesser-known destinations in Italy. It truly is a completely different experience compared to the crowded, most popular, tourist-filled destinations. Perugia does get an influx of visitors during its famous Eurochocolate Festival and that’s a fantastic experience for chocolate lovers!

  12. Stunning photos of your trip and your surrounding areas. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing and can’t wait to see more! Enjoy! 😀

  13. This trip sounds amazing and this recap made me hungry. 🙂 Just have to tell you that you look fantastic in the black linen shorts and tank- beautiful and chic!

  14. While you are in Florence do shop at the local leather shops. Great handbags and belts all leather.

  15. I lived in Perugia for two years while doing a postgraduate course of Italian at Università per stranieri di Perugia.Seeing those photos have brought so many fond memories to me… Perugia is truly a beauty,and of all the Italian cities I have been to, it’s the one closest to my ❤️ and forever will be.Perugia sarà sempre nel mio cuor.

  16. Love! love!! Your recap and pics. My. friend and our 25 year old daughters are going next year. I have celiac. Any tips for food ordering? How to prepare??

  17. Jolynne, in that first pic of you in Perugia wearing the black tank and shorts, I immediately was struck by your resemblance to Amal Clooney! Uncanny!!

  18. I am finally getting to read about your adventures in Italy – I love that you went off the beaten path – that is how I want to take my husband back to Italy to do. I went when I was 16 on a school trip – we did all the touristy stuff but we did go to Assisi and the Basilica of St Francis – one of the most surreal moments for me. Thank you for this recap and I will be putting these towns on my list.

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