After you’ve spent a few days exploring Rome, you might be in the mood to get out of the big city and see something else for a day. There’s a seemingly endless array of great options for day trips from Rome, some of which are less than a half-hour from the city center. If you want to get even further afield to see another region entirely, then the Umbrian capital of Perugia might be just what you’re looking for.
While Perugia is Umbria’s capital, it’s by no means anywhere near the size of Rome, so you can check out most of the major sights in a one-day visit. The historic center sits atop a hill, which means the main attractions are up there, too. To get up to the hilltop from the train station or the parking lot, hop on the MiniMetro tram for a quick (and painless) ride up. Among the sights to see are the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, a beautiful town hall, and Umbria’s National Gallery; but much of the charm of Perugia comes from just wandering those quintessentially Italian cobblestoned streets and enjoying the views over the Umbrian countryside.
Perugia is home to a university that attracts many foreign students, so the city has something of a youthful and international vibe to it. It’s also home to one of Europe’s largest chocolate festivals, so although it may seem quiet and relaxed most of the year, it’s overrun with chocolate makers – and chocoholics – every October. Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with the EuroChocolate festival, you can still sample Perugia’s famous Baci candies, made by local chocolatier, Perugina.
Perugia lies about 110 miles from Rome. There’s regular train service between the cities, although nearly all the trains require a change along the way. The trains vary in speed, which means they also vary in price – the trip can last anywhere between 2.5 to 4 hours one way, with one-way 2nd class ticket prices ranging from €11-20. In other words, if you’re taking the train, make sure you’re on the faster ones (even if it’s a little more expensive) or you’ll spend half the day in transit. To get to Perugia directly from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, you can take a coach-style bus. These take about three hours one-way, and tickets are around €20. If you’d like to drive, it’s about a 2.5-hour trip on the Autostrada. For those who’d like to leave the transportation details to someone else, you can also book a tour from Rome that includes Perugia.