Ancient history

Perugia and the Etruscans

A walking tour along the ancient city walls and most important Etruscan landmarks of the city

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The walk begins in the centre of Perugia. You need a good pair of legs to face the challenge of some of the steep streets. 

Your first effort will be fully compensated by the sight of one of the city's most important landmarks, the Etruscan Arch, where three steep streets rise upwards to the city's main Piazza IV Novembre. Recently restored, it has regained the white splendour of the original travertine with which it was built. The sheer mass of this arch will remain impressed in your memory as you gaze at it from Piazza Fortebraccio just below it.

Part of the route along the city walls opens up at its southern tower, which from here curves southwards along Via Battisti, a road of panoramic glory which offers views over the rooftops of the houses nestled around the characteristic via dell'Acquedotto. It's a truly breathtaking spectacle, especially at sunset.

Once you reach the top, you'll be just a few steps from the top of the centre, the original hub of the Etruscan settlement. You can see traces of it in the underground areas of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, where you can also admire the remains of what was once the town's largest temple. You don't need to book a visit, just go to the Museo Capitolare located in the lovely cloister of the building adjacent to the cathedral.

The Etruscan Well is very nearby and is an amazing example of hydro-engineering. You can still hear the sound of drops of water that once flowed in abundance to fill the ancient city's main well.

Stop in at the fascinating National Archaeology Museum to see the many mobile Etruscan objects on display there, and don't forget to admire the lovely Porta Marzia, one of the exits of the old Rocca Paolina.

There are also many Etruscan remains in areas just outside of Perugia's historical centre. The most famous is the Ipogeo dei Volumni, a gorgeous underground tomb along the local road that leads to Assisi. Other important necropoles are east of the city, and they can be seen making a few short stops. From the Ipogeo di San Manno in Ferro di Cavallo, incorporated into a XIV Church, to the Necropoli di Strozzacapponi, and the Tomba del Faggeto further north, where your journey will end in quiet open spaces where you can rest before heading off to enjoy a nice torta al testo filled with prosciutto.