In this city, the University has a predominant weight, and it seems that students are everywhere, in a marvelous historic center, a true urban "living area" that is very pleasant.
It is possible to begin the trip from Piazza Partigiani, from which begins the uphill pedestrian climb to the city center: largely mechanized, it is partially outdoors and partially within Paolina Fortress, and it is truly something unique to not be missed.
After 1540, during the papacy of Paolo III Farnese, when Peurgia, the last in Italy, lost its independence as a Municipality, the pope commissioned Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane to the construction of the mighty fortress, which rises on the Landone hill destroying the entire Baglioni quarter, who were enemies of the pope, the Borgo di S. Giuliano and profoundly modified the entire arrangement of the city. The project, a powerful military structure but also a large architectural work including both the fortress, in the part of the base, a luxurious papal residence, both the "Corridore", a long, fortified passageway connecting the fort and the so-called "Tenaglia", were realized in incredibly short amounts of time: only three years!
The construction of the Paolina Fortress led to the entire urban reorganization of the historic center, eliminating in part the tight fabric of the alleyways, and the modern-day Via Mazzini and Via Calderini were opened, as was Corso Vannucci, onto which Piazza Italic was created.
The destruction of the Fortress that dominated the urban landscape of Perugia began at the end of the 18th century, in hatred of the papal power and was interrupted and begun again with the changing fortunes, until 1848 when the fury of the people completely demolished the part of the papal residence and also a large part of the actual fortress. Today, only a stretch of the supporting wall on Viale Indipendenza and the eastern bastion on Via Manzia, onto which opens the Etruscan Porta Marzia, from which you reach the mighty substructures used, the Baglioni quarter, and its stone houses integrated with the wall in brick.
From 1970 to 1983 there were works of recognition and restoration, and piercing through the remains of the Fortress, the route that we will follow was created, very attractive, with escalators that take us, by means of large and complex turning spaces, to a point under the lateral colonnade of Palazzo del Governo (1570, headquarters of the Province) in Piazza Italia. In the Piazza are a series of 19th-century buildings representative of construction following the demolition of the Fortress.
From Piazza Italia we go onto Corso Vannucci, a wide street whose elegant façades of local light stone buildings and the pavement, also in light stone, confer with the "living area" of the city.
On the left we find Palazzo dei Priori, today municipal headquarters and home of the National Gallery of Umbria. Built in four phases between the 13th and 15th centuries, you can see the signs of the enlargements even in the façades. The palazzo opens onto Corso Vannucci with a beautiful 14th-century Gothic portal, whose sculptures represent numerous allegories; the two lateral pillars supported by lions have two griffins with a calf between their claws mounted above: a curious homage to the corporation of butchers who paid a substantial contribution for its construction.
Entering from this large door we find a large and dimly-lit vaulted space; immediately to the right is a large staircase leading to the City Hall, and on the third floor is the National Gallery of Umbria.
The Gallery is home to a very important collection of central Italian art from the 13th to 18th centuries. It boasts works by the Duke of Buoninsegna, Benozzo Gozzoli, Niccolò Alunno, Piero della Francesca, the Perugino, and Pietro da Cortona, Orazio Gentileschi, Pierre Subleyras, and many others.
To the north, the 15th-century loggia of Braccio Fortebraccio, partially superimposes to the left side of the Cathedral, which was worked on and enlarged numerous times but was never finished. On the side is a beautiful 16th-century portal, work of Galeazzo Alessi, to the right of which rises the stone pulpit from which San Benardino of Siena preached.
In front, on the northern side of Palazzo dei Priori, a large stairway leads to Arengo and the Gothic portal with corbels and a griffin and lion above, which gives way to the very grand Notary Hall, with large vaults entirely covered in 14th-century frescoes.
Leaving from Piazza IV Novembre to the left, we take the picturesque Via Maestà delle Volte, and enjoying an entirely medieval atmosphere, we reach Via dei Priori, which goes down steeply and straight to Piazza San Francesco, whose very grand Gothic church of the same name, today deconsecrated and restructured numerous times, and the small Church of San Bernardino, which is a jewel of architecture and Renaissance decoration. From San Francesco we go up until Piazza Morlacchi, and we take Via C. Battisti which externally follows the route of the wall, offering a beautiful view over the valley until the Etruscan arch, which, built in the 3rd century B.C., was the main access to the Etruscan city.
We go back up towards the Cathedral and go uphill to Via Rocchi, following the indications for the "Pozzo Etrusco" (Etruscan well). Having reached Piazza Dante and continuing to follow the indications, we arrive at Pozzo Etrusco, an ancient hydraulic reserve of the city, 35 meters deep and very lovely.