We decided to visit Perugia on a whim, after learning that we would have 3 days off from Rome. We hesitated between Perugia, Bologna and Naples, but Bologna would have been too humid, Naples too expensive, and we found great deals in Perugia. We actually booked the hotels (we couldn’t choose between those two so we went to both!) on the day of our departure and bought the train tickets at Roma Termini Station. I don’t necessarily advise doing this – especially with a baby – in normal circumstances, but with the covid situation we had absolutely no problem winging it.
If you’re in a rush, here’s what I’m taking about in this article:
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Where is Perugia and why go to Perugia from Rome
Perugia is an ancient city dating all the way back to the Etruscan era, located in the province of Umbria. It’s a beautiful underrated destination in Italy, rich in history thanks to its glorious ancient past as a prosperous city and, in the Middle Ages, a renowed university city engaged in the development of arts and culture. Today, Perugia is most famous for jazz and chocolate.
As mentioned above we decided to stay in two different hotels in Perugia after finding great deals.
Hotel Giò Wine and Jazz Area**** : comfort and rooftop pool
Once we’d seen a picture of the rooftop pool of this 4* hotel in Perugia, there was no forgetting it. And we have to say it did live up yo our expectations! It ended up being Cesare’s first pool experience, after a great first night in the hotel.
The hotel Giò Wine and Jazz Area is not in the city center, but it is easily accessible by minimetro (this tiny cable cars looking monorail going from the bottom of the Perugian hill to the old town on top). However do be careful because people are driving in a very dangerous way over there, and it’s an understatement to say that they must have forgotten the pedestrians when building modern roads in Perugia. The view was beautiful from our room, in any case.
Our double standard Wine room was HUGE and almost felt like a suite, with a big table in an open room leading to a balcony. The bed was more than big enough for the 3 of us and adequately firm, with a choice of pillows. The bathroom was big also, with a great spa bathtub. It was also sparkling clean.
The breakfast was good, not incredible for vegans but pretty diverse, and they had a highchair for Cesare which was a big plus.
Last but not least: the rooftop pool was great! When we arrived in the morning after breakfast there was a couple already there but we all basically kept to our half of the pool and that was more than enough. Cesare was able to go to the swimming-pool of the first time in his life and I think the fact that it was open-air really helped to make him feel more secure. We didn’t stay long as the sun was starting to be strong, but we enjoyed every second!
On the night of our stay at the Gio Wine and Jazz area hotel in Perugia, we found it hard to find a place for diner and ended up at the next door Lezioni di Greco. It’s a greek place that accommodated my vegan diet without an issue.There’s an ice-cream parlour (with vegan sorbet) next door, perfect for dessert (and breakfast!).
Sina Brufani 5* hotel in Perugia
Where to start… Underground pool with sight of Etruscan ruins? We got upgraded? Amazing view? Seriously, you pick.
We arrived around noon at the 5* hotel Sina Brufani and of course the room was ready… and it was a Deluxe instead of a standard double. Which meant extra space, and more importantly: a gorgeous view on the old city of Perugia.
The room was big, with lots of space for Cesare to practice is walking skills and most importantly: no dangerous edges. Everything was somewhat babyproof and that really helped us stay relaxed (instead of freaking out every ten seconds about Cesare potentially walking to his death on the corner of a table). The bed was king-sized and firm, with more than enough space for Cesare to sleep in-between us, at a 90* angle like he so enjoys (thanks, baby…). The air-conditioning was on and the temperature perfect when we arrived.
The beautiful marble bathroom was spacious and featured a double sink, perfect to catch up on time – thing that always seems to be missing when you’re (traveling) with a baby.
The lobby and rest of the hotel looked amazing and we went to have our complimentary cocktail on our first night. If service was a little slow, the cocktails ended up being absolutely perfect and exactly what we wanted.
In the morning we always took our breakfast on the terrasse in front of a beautiful view, but it was also possible to take it inside in a small room adjacent to the bar. Service could be a little slow as well but I was lucky to have an amazing waitress who made me a dish of veggies that was very tasty!
I kept the best for last once more: the pool. Because of the covid situation we had to book in advance but on the first day it was available on the moment we wanted to go, even without booking. The day was beautiful and in the middle of the afternoon people didn’t care for swimming under ground. However the heat was too much to go out with a baby, so it was perfect for us. We were the only one in the pool for the whole time, and it didn’t disappoint! The room was impressive, the water temperature perfect, and the fact that we could see the ruins underwater was incredible. We went back on the next day but this time we did have to book (the afternoon was rainy) and shared the pool with a couple. As for the previous hotel pool, that was not a problem at all.
How to get to Perugia
The easiest way to get to Perugia is the train. It is situated around mid-way between Rome and Florence. You could also rent a car and drive there from Rome of Florence. If you have some time, the town of Assisi is just a couple of train stops away from Perugia and well worth the detour.
Train from Rome to Perugia
You can easily take a regional train from Rome (Termini or Tiburtina station) to Perugia as there are very frequent. Some have a change and others are direct, so make sure to check before you book. If you want to be 100% hassle free take the direct one that takes around 2h45. We took the one with a change and as the first one was around 10 min late we were afraid to miss our connection but they’re pretty well organized and it waited for the passengers of the next train.
Train from Perugia to Rome
The way back is the exact same deal, with regional trains from Perugia to Rome with a change and some without. This time we took one without change and it went as well as the way there. I personally really enjoy Italian trains, as even the regional ones are pretty modern and comfortable, with more than enough space. And now of course even more space as the social distancing applies in trains, with only one out of two seats free.
You can book your tickets either online or buy them at the stations. For each ride we paid 24€ for 2 and the baby is free to sit on our lap. Every time I have taken the train in Italy my ticket has been controlled so I strongly advise you to not skip this step and buy a ticket before boarding.
What to do in Perugia
We had 3 things to consider when it came to what to do in Perugia: 1. we were traveling with a 15 month-old baby, 2. we were traveling during the covid situation, 3. we were traveling in the heat of July. There’s no doubt you could do much more than what we did if you don’t have to deal with any of these facts. But nonetheless we had an amazing time in Perugia and fell in love with the city (we even checked out the price of real estate – and it’s low!!) so here’s what we did, and as a bonus: what we didn’t but you totally should.
1. Walk the Via dell’Acquedotto
You like to have a walk with beautiful surroundings? Go check out the remaining wall of the Aqueduct, and walk it to the end. It’s really not long but it’s gorgeous.
2. Check out the view from the Porta del Sole
While going back from the via dell’Acquedotto, I spotted another wall that could be walked. It was higher up and I really wanted to go see it, pumped by this already great little stroll. It took us a bit of imagination (and great legwork) to get there, but we found the Porta Sole lookout, the highest point in the city and one of the best spots for gorgeous views in the city!
3. Walk around the city
Perugia is a small town, and you should really go explore it without much of a goal. It’s a real maze of little backstreets that cross one another and honestly, just charming! Once in a while you’ll end up in a totally surprising place with jaw-dropping views and you’ll remember that every little Italian town should just be walked around on aimlessly.
Amongst others, don’t miss:
- the Arco d’Augusto, one of the old entrance to the city, built in the 3rd century BC
- the quirky Via della Viola
4. Rocca Paolina
The curious Rocca Paolina deserves a visit, even if you don’t have to go through it. This impressive place is actually the vaulted foundations of a 16th century papal fortress and medieval streets that are now underground passages. It’s free and easily accessible by feet or by the escalators by the Giardini Carducci (in front of the Sina Brufani hotel)
5. Basilica di San Pietro
Not to be misunderstood for San Pietro’s church in Rome, the Basilica di San Pietro is an iconic building in the landscape of Perugia, particularly its tall bell tower that can be seen from afar. We had the chance to check it out for a few minutes but it’s normally currently closed to the public because of the covid situation (being instead under works).
The basilica, dating back from the early Christian time and partially rebuilt in the 12th century, is very impressive and boasts huge paintings and frescos (including one of Saint George and the Dragon) as well as impressive arches. On the way don’t miss the Porta San Pietro dating from the 14th century.
6. Admire impressive architecture on Piazza IV Novembre
You can’t miss it, Piazza IV Novembre is in the center of town and features some of the main historical buildings of the city, as well as the stunning Fontana Maggiore. Twirl to see the Logge di Braccio, the Comune di Perugia, Cathedral of Perugia (San Lorenzo church), and the Palazzo dei Priori.
7. The Church of San Domenico
We stopped to visit on our way to the Basilica San Pietro, as the building held my attention. The interior felt incredibly bare to me, but there is a few notable things to be seen as a few Renaissance fresco and the tomb of Pope Benedict XI.
8. Watch the view or the sunset from Giardini Carducci
This is a view we have seen from all time of day as the Sina Brufani hotel where we stayed for two nights sits right by the Giardini Carducci. At sunset and night time you’ll see many people heading over there to hang and watch the view. So romantic!
What else is there to see in Perugia?
- San Lorenzo church: on the main square Piazza IV Novembre, we’ve only admired San Lorenzo hall-church (or Perugia’s Cathedral) from the outside. Unfinished cathedral on the outside, the inside is a lavishly decorated fully functional church containing marble columns, beautiful frescos, the tomb of Pope Martin IV and also a small museum.
- Palazzo dei Priori: we only had a quick look inside and admired its gothic style architecture from the outside. However on the 3rd floor you’ll find the National Gallery of Umbria, containing paintings from Umbrian artists from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
- Museo Archeologico: we only had a quick look on our way to the Basilica di San Pietro, and the inner courtyard is refreshing. Probably due to the current situation, a couple rooms were closed, but you can usually follow the evolution of the Umbrian province from the Bronze Age.
- Sciri Tower: It was on my to-do list but was only open on the weekend and at particular times, with reservation – due to the covid situation. We ended up skipping it but it’s one of the best places for panoramic views of the city.
- Oratorio di San Bernardino
- The round church of Sant’Arcangelo, in the Borgo Sant’Angelo. This church dating from the 5th century is one of the oldest in Italy, and built on a pagan temple that was built on an Etruscan site. Worth the visit!
Where to eat in Perugia if you’re vegan
Perugia, and Umbria in general, are rather known for their meaty dishes than their vegan-friendliness. It wasn’t as easy to find vegan food as it is in other Italian cities. Especially in these trying times, as it seemed that a lof of places where definitely or temporarily closed, some had confusing opening hours and policies… But we did manage to find a few spots.
Lezioni di Greco: As mentioned above, this greek street food place was accommodating to the vegan diet, cheap, and delicious.
Gusto: in the city center, Gusto has a vegan burger and a vegan bun. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but good enough! I particularly loved the blue hamburger bun.
(forgot the name, sorry! Looking for it!) : I had the classical and safe but good dish of penne al pomodoro and their foccaccia was also to die for.
L’amore per la pizza: there was a bit of an issue with the bill and the big TVs with music videos distracted Cesare a lot, but they have a terrace outside. Other than that they made sure my umbricelli with veggies were cheese free and it was delicious!! You have to try the umbricelli when you’re there.
These gustative experiences conclude our retelling of our 3 days trip to Perugia and I have to say it was hard to go back home. We had a great time in this beautiful town and loved all of it. If you’re looking for a day trip from Rome this could be a great off-the-beaten path choice for you!
A few tips on visiting Perugia with a baby
Perugia, like many Italian towns, is not super stroller-friendly… We took a stroller with us but practically didn’t use it, and only to go from the hotel to a restaurant. If you want to explore there will be many steps and steep hills and I highly recommend you to bring your favorite baby wrap or baby carrier with you. As it was warm when we went, we used a ring sling (I recommend a non-stretchy coton or linen ring sling) and a meh dai (we used the Fidella fly tai).
Most restaurants will have a high chair but it might not be the best, if you have a long burp cloth to make it a bit safer it certainly won’t hurt.
Don’t forget hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for your little one as it can be VERY hot and sunny in summer.
Feel free to breastfeed comfortably (and without a cover if you don’t use one) and let your baby be a baby, because I’ve noticed that people are SO NICE with babies in Italy. It always surprises me but everywhere we’ve been so far we only have had people making funny faces (in a good way) at Cesare, playing with me, saying Ciao, complimenting us on how cute he is… It’s a breeze!!
Guided trips and tours of Perugia
Perugia: Private Walking Tour: 2hrs private walking tour with a local, with 4 starting time options (morning or afternoon).
Perugia 2–Hour Small Group Walking Tour: 10am small group tour with a professional guide, limited to 15 participants maximum.
Are you planning on going to Rome? Here’s what you should read next:
- Rome Express Guide by a local
- 15 things to see if you’re in Rome for the first time
- Eating vegan in Rome (or, honestly, anywhere in Italy)
Are you visiting Europe with a baby or a small child? These articles are full of tips:
- Central Europe road trip with a baby (in a camper!)
- 1 day in Munich with a baby
- 1 day in Vienna with a baby
- Road trip in Slovenia (with a baby)
- 1 day in Ostrava with a baby
- 2 days in Warsaw with a baby
- 10 things to do in Vilnius (baby-friendly)