Jazz, Chocolate and More on a Budget!
Perched atop a hill in the heart of Umbria, the
historic town of Perugia is often overlooked by travellers on a
backpacking tour of Italy. But with its ancient streets and unspoiled
culture, it offers an authentic taste of Italian life, which can
be hard to find in the country’s busier cities.
Perugia’s culture and heritage - which includes
striking collections of local artists, elaborately frescoed churches
and a lively café scene - rivals that of nearby Florence
yet the cost of living has remained low, which is great news for
And there’s even more to the Umbrian capital
than picturesque palaces and idyllic countryside. Home to the Universita
per Stranier, one of Italy’s largest state universities, as
well as a prestigious international school, Perugia is always bustling
How to Get There
Although it’s situated off the tourist trail,
it’s easy to get to Perugia on a budget nonetheless. The central
bus terminal at Piazza Partigiani has services from both the rest
of the region and the country, and the train station is also connected
to other major Italian travel destinations.
Although Perugia’s small Saint’Egidio
Airport is now served by a handful of low cost airlines, it may
well be easier to find a budget flight to the larger airports of
Rome, Pisa and Florence, all of which are within easy reach of the
town by rail.
Where to Stay
There are a number of cheap
hostels in Perugia offering budget accommodation to backpackers
in the heart of the medieval town and on the doorstep of all the
attractions and atmosphere Perugia has to offer.
Alternatively, there are several hostels in rural
Umbria that benefit from great extras such as swimming pools, and
are still just a short hop by public transport from Perugia itself.
Aside from its well-preserved architecture and
pleasantly lively pavement cafés, Perugia has two major draws
for budget travellers, the first of which is the EuroChocolate Festival.
The town is the home of Perugina, one of the major
chocolate producers in the world that are renowned for their ‘Baci’
(chocolate kisses). Tours of their factory are available all year
round, but for eight days each October, the whole town is transformed
into an homage to confectionary.
The central streets and piazzas of Perugia become
a haven for chocolate lovers as stands and expositions crowd into
the town centre offering free tastes.
Chefs take the opportunity to use the thousands
of visitors as willing guinea pigs and experiment with new flavours
and creations, whilst artisans construct huge sculptures that are
often broken up and distributed at the end of the festival.
But the residents of Perugia are more than just
chocolate connoisseurs – they’re also jazz fans, and
every summer (usually in July), the Umbria
Jazz Festival takes over the town.
There are heaps of scheduled concerts and performances
from internationally renowned artists (for which ticket prices vary)
but the streets are also filled with bands and choir groups who
gather across the town all day long and, more importantly, free
Impromptu sessions spring up as visiting musicians’
jam with students and locals on the narrow cobbled streets, making
the whole town buzz with life and music.
An al fresco meal and a spot of people-watching
is always likely to be a favoured activity in Italy but throughout
the duration of the jazz festival, the unique atmosphere to be found
in Perugia is hard to match anywhere else.