Perugia is the capital of the Umbria region and is home to about 170,000 people. It is famous for its chocolates, produced by the Perugina company, which was founded in 1907 and today is part of the Nestle corporation. Much like Hershey has its Kisses, Perugina has its Baci, which are kiss-like treats filled with hazelnut. They come with love notes written in many languages, including English. You can spot them at the city's annual chocolate festival, held each October, and they're also available in countless local shops year-round.
Like so many cities that date back centuries, Perugia has a historical heart that's at the top of a hill (all the better for lookouts to be positioned). The city is no longer completely walled, but it is nicely preserved despite the modern additions of trains, buses, and cable cars. They're typically packed with tourists during the summer — particularly during the Umbria Jazz Festival in July.
Piazza IV Novembre
This piazza was the main square in days gone by, and it is where you will find the Perugia Cathedral. The side of the cathedral that faces the piazza is marked by the Fontana Maggiore, a fantastic circular fountain whose design dates to the 1270s. The cathedral itself dates to the fourteenth century on this site, though other city cathedrals have been in different locations since at least the tenth century. The first chapel inside the cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary's wedding ring, known as the Holy Ring, which is kept here. There is a museum, too. Admission is free.
Also in this piazza is the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, a museum that houses the most comprehensive and complete collection of works from the Umbrian School of Painting, from the the thirteenth century to the nineteenth century. Some of the more unusual sections include artifacts from the history of law, graphics, and ancient topography. For hours and exhibit information, go to
Perugia is known for schools that teach Italian to foreigners. You can enjoy a single private lesson or enroll in intensive courses that combine bookwork, conversation practice, and historic tours given in the native language. The length of the courses vary.
Comitato Linguistico is one such school, offering two- and four-week courses at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels in addition to individual lessons of all lengths. There are also courses that focus on business, art, literature, and cooking, if you want to specialize right away to enhance your travel or work experience in the country. Prices range from 300 per week, depending on what type of class you choose (and whether you want group or individual instruction). Learn more at
If you decide to study Italian at a school such as Comitato Linguistico, you will be given a student identification card — which, like all such cards, entitles you to student discounts at local shops, restaurants, museums, and the like. Hopefully, by the end of your class, you'll even be able to ask for your discount in Italian.