Art cities like Perugia and Orvieto, the lovely towns facing lake Trasimeno, the surprising oasis of Scarzuola, are the stages of this route.
Perugia: a walk through the city center. An escalator leads us from Piazza Garibaldi’s parking lot to Piazza Italia, through the foundations of Rocca Paolina (1540-1543), symbol of Popes’ power and authority over the city of Perugia. The Giardini Carducci offer a magnificent outlook on the Umbrian countryside. Perugia’s main thoroughfare is Corso Vannucci, with its elegant Medieval and Reinassance buildings and its fashionable cafes. At the end of the Corso there is Palazzo dei Priori, the testimony of the city’s ancient grandeur, hosting the Collegio del Cambio, frescoed by Perugino, and Umbria’s National Gallery. On the side facing Piazza IV Novembre, Sala dei Notari is finely frescoed. The Fontana Maggiore, built at the end of XIII century by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, is at the same time a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering and a work of art. The pictoresque via Maestà delle Volte leads to Piazza Morlacchi and to Morlacchi Theatre. On its right side, Piazza Cavallotti gives access to the long and steep Scalinata dell’Acquedotto, one of Perugia’s many panoramic viewpoints. Another one is on piazza Matteotti (besides Corso Vannucci), with its lovely indoor market.
San Michele Arcangelo, San Bevignate, San Pietro. The Church of San Michele Arcangelo, also known as Tempietto di Sant’Angelo, slighlty outiside Perugia’s city center, was founded upon a pagan temple and still retains an unusual round shape. Corso Garibaldi, the road leading to the church, has the architraves of some buildings bearing esoteric and Masonic signs. The church of San Bevignate, built in the middle of XIII century, was owned by the Templars and is decorated with zoomorphic patterns and ancient symbols. The Basilica of San Pietro, one of Perugia’s architectural and artistic highlights, can be reached from Corso Vannucci with a 15 minutes’ walk (via Baglioni, via Santa Lucia, scalette di Sant’Ercolano, corso Cavour, borgo XX Giugno) which brings us through some characteristic up-anddowns, like the stairs of Sant’Ercolano. The Basilica has a magnificent facade and an elegant spire-shaped bell tower; the inside’s decorations are among the richest in Perugia. It also hosts a Benedictine monastery with two Reinassance cloisters.
Corciano and Lake Trasimeno. The small town of Corciano (Ferro di Cavallo, via Firenze, SS 75bis, via Antonio Gramsci, via Giuseppe Di Vittorio, SP 172 via Pietro Nenni), 20 minutes from Perugia, rests on a hill, by a Medieval castle. Its center is a charming labyrinth of alleys and ancient buildings. Lake Trasimeno, Italy’s fourth lake by size, is rich in wildlife. Monte del Lago offers one of the best views on the lake. We continue to the harbour of Torricella, and then to Passignano, “the pearl of Trasimeno”, with its Medieval fortress and its roads facing the lake, Tuoro and Castiglione del Lago, which offers a perfectly preserved historical center and an imposing stronghold. Three islands surface from the lake’s waters: Maggiore, Minore and Polvese. Isola Maggiore is a wildlife reserve; several pathways allow to visit its coast and inland. Isola Polvese, the largest one, abounding in greenery and more seldom visited by tourists, hosts a Medieval fortress and the remains of a monastery.
Perugino's Art in Città della Pieve. Città della Pieve, 20 miles from Lake Trasimeno (SR 71 towards località Lacaioli, Muffa, Moiano, Po’ Bandino, San Litardo), is at the border with Tuscany. Although its origins date back to the Etruscan and Roman times, its center retains a strong Reinassance character. It is the birthplace of Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, better known as “il Perugino”, who left here several of his masterpieces. In 2000, the Liceo Scientifico, by architect Mario Botta, added a jewel of contemporary architecture to the town’s beauties.
The Mystical Oasisi of Scarzuola. Less than 30 minutes from Città della Pieve, Montegiove (SS71 verso Monteleone d’Orvieto, via Giovanni XXI I I, Montegabbione, vocabolo Francescane, Montegiove) hosts the unique mystical park of Scarzuola. The area was originally a monastery, built in XIII century, then became a property of Ovieto’s Marquises Misciatelli. In 1957, architect Tommaso Buzzi remodeled it into a bizzarre neo-Mannerist amphitheatre, called “Teatrum Mundi”, conceived as a symbolic journey into the unconscious.