If you are on holiday in Umbria you really have to go to Perugia. There are many places of interest and it is such a beautiful and pleasant city! Very lively also because there is a university and a university for foreigners where you can learn the Italian language (I also went there when we just lived here).
If you go to visit Perugia in the summer, it can only be quite warm there. That is why I am giving you some tips about a few places of interest where you can cool off. You will find an important part of the sights underground. The current Perugia is, like so many other Italian cities, built on the remains of the former city.
Perugia originally consisted of two hilltops. One where the cathedral of San Lorenzo now stands and the other top was at the other end of the current Corso Vannucci, where the Giardini Carducci are now. Between them lay a deep valley that has been elevated over time.
The city was not as wide as it is now. You can see that, for example, when you stand on Piazza Matteotti and look to the east. There you see a very narrow house. The city used to stop there.
Over time, archaeologists have discovered whole parts of former buildings under the city. An Etruscan well has also been found and you can still clearly see the remains of medieval houses in the Rocca Paolina.
We recommend that you visit these three underground remains of the former city:
– the Rocca Paolina
– the archaeological excavations under the San Lorenzo Cathedral
– the Etruscan Well
We start at the Rocca Paolina. If you park your car in the Partigiani parking lot and then follow the signs to the center, you will automatically arrive in the Rocca. Have you parked elsewhere or have you taken the mini metro, then go down the escalators from Piazza Italia at the Giardini Carducci. You will then automatically end up in the underground city. You can still see the former houses well. There were often shops on the ground floor and the noble families lived upstairs.
The Rocca Paolina was built as a military fortress and was a symbol of his papal power for Pope Paul III. When the nobles and citizens of Perugia refused to pay taxes, the Pope thought he would be smart by increasing the tax on salt. After all, nobody would omit salt from his food, he thought. Perugia did not bow. Then no salt in anything. The pope became so angry about this that he ordered the houses of the noblemen who led the rebellion to be expropriated and to make the houses part of the fort to be built. A quarter of what was then Perugia was destroyed by it.
The fort was built but was destroyed by the bourgeoisie in 1860. Only the underground part of the fort was spared and you can visit that every day.
Now you also know that this so-called salt war (1539-1540) has ensured that no salt is present in this part of Italy to this day.
Also walk to the Porta Marzia. This is an original Etruscan gate that was moved during the construction of the Rocca to serve as an entrance.
After your visit to the Rocca Paolina you walk through the main street, Corso Vanucci, towards Piazza IV Novembre. You come across all kinds of cozy shops and restaurants. Go at least to the oldest and most beautiful bar in Perugia 'Sandri'. They have fantastic dolces (cakes), but at least admire the beautiful interior of the bar! Then you walk to the cathedral of San Lorenzo. To the left of the cathedral you will find the Capitolare museum that gives access to the excavations
Archaeological excavations under the Cathedral of San Lorenzo
During restoration work on the monastery of the canons next to the cathedral of San Lorenzo, a space under the current ground floor was discovered. Large parts of Etruscan walls from the 6th and 5th centuries BC were found there. Various architectural decorations from Roman times. And remains of an antique brickwork that was used during the construction of the Cathedral in the late Middle Ages.
You can visit the excavations and then through the monastery first enter a room where the pauses Honorius III and IV, Celestine V and Clement V have been chosen.
If you leave this room you will come to the remains of Etruscan walls that were built to give the Perugia acropolis a more prominent appearance. A temple has also been found, most likely dedicated to Juno. The route then leads you past a medieval vault in the foundations of the cathedral and eventually you arrive at an antique road with deep cart tracks, first used by the Etruscans and later by the Romans.
If you want to visit these underground remains in Perugia, you can do so throughout the year except on Mondays. You can also do it with a guide after telephone reservation. Unfortunately the guide speaks only Italian, but if you want I can go to translate.
Even more exciting is the possibility to visit the underground Perugia with the speleological / archaeological organization CAI. The latter is only possible on April 19 or November 22, 2020 and then only through a reservation. So you want this? Let me know. Then I will do my best to arrange it for you.
Because it is forbidden to take photos, I share here the link to a site where you can see the photos of all the underground sights that I mention in this episode of the Gazzetta of Polmone.
If you walk right from the Piazza IV Novembre past the cathedral you will come to the Piazza Dante. At number 18 you will find the entrance to the Etruscan Well.
Etruscan Well or Sorbello Well
It is a huge well of 37 meters deep with a diameter of 5.6 meters over a length of 12 meters that narrows further down to 3 meters. You can walk down the pit thanks to a brilliant stair system.
It was most likely constructed in the 4th or 3rd century BC and shows how advanced the knowledge of hydraulic engineering was at that time. There are, by the way Fontana Maggiore on the Piazza IV Novembre and the Roman Aqueduct that water from the Pacciano mountain entered the city, also examples of this.
Both in Etruscan and Roman times, the well was the most important water resource in the city. The well was rediscovered in the 60s and the restoration work was completed in 2017, so that you can now clearly see what the construction looks like.
He will be too Sorbello pit named after the name of the Sorbello family who lived next to the well and still owns the building (Museum house Sorbello).
Come to Umbria to see the underground sights in Perugia
Have you become enthusiastic about my story about the underground sights in Perugia? From 18 April Transavia flies from Perugia to Rotterdam. They fly on Saturdays and Wednesdays and their flight times are very pleasant because you do not have to be on the road in the middle of the night to be on time at the airport. From Perugia it is only an hour's drive to Polmone.
Below you can immediately see if there is another apartment available for you in the desired period.