Il cuore verde – settimana a Perugia

Last September I decided to spend a week brushing up on my Italian in one of Italy’s lesser visited provinces, Umbria. After a long spell of procrastination (FAR too much choice in Italy!) I settled upon a small language school in the hill-top walled city of Perugia with a family home stay option to maximise my exposure to the language and local culture. The weather was surprisingly cool for the time of year, but I was repeatedly assured this was unseasonly so following their worst summer in years inflicting weeks of rain, floods and freak weather upon the region. Tuscany’s equally beguiling neighbour, Umbria, is a landlocked province and affectionately known by Italians as “il cuore verde” of Italy (the green heart), a tribute to its green rolling hills and lush natural landscapes. The region has an impressive selection of medieval hill towns (most of which are within easy reach of Perugia) and a rich artistic heritage. If you plan to visit this province, however, be warned! There is some serious uphill climbing involved and to actively explore this region without a car you ideally need to be physically fit – after four hours of Italian class a day followed by afternoon sightseeing and evenings conversing with my host family over dinner, my entire body was aching for my bed by 10pm! These are some of the sights I came across during my stay.

It’s hard to avoid love at first sight when you arrive in Perugia – every turn greets you with an equally arresting view over the city and valleys below.

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Piazza IV NovembreIMG_7212 cn

Corso Pietro Vannucci20140928_122757 cn

Me with my host family, I Giombini – The Giombini live outside the city walls, a 15 minute steep uphill climb to the school (and another subsequent 10 minute uphill hike to the centre). One seriously exhausting week!IMG_7538 crop

Narrow streets and winding steps – two common sights in Perugia

13th century Roman aqueduct

Home from homeIMG_7244

Speaking of which…IMG_7304

Perugia is famed for its chocolate and dolci – when in Rome…20140928_134140 crop cnIMG_7428 crop cn

Market day 20140928_093553

Ethereal panorama of the city with the mist floating below the hills in the background20140928_092435 cn

Placard commemorating the 60th anniversary of the fall of Mussolini’s fascist republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in 1945. It pays particular tribute to several Perugian anti-fascists who were confined and tortured inside the building and  threw themselves out of the window to their death. RIP.

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I’m fascinated by Italian graffiti – never have I encountered a country where the graffiti is so dominated by messages of love. Although less prevalent than in Southern Italy, I came across a few romantic scribbles here in Perugia.

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