Che Ora È?

It’s been one week since we arrived in Perugia and the experience thus far has been fantastic. If you’ve been following our Instagram account, you know that we’ve been walking through each of the city’s historical districts; Porta Sant’Angelo (where we live), Porta Sole, Porta San Pietro, Porta Eburnea, and Porta Santa Susanna—there’s an official walking itinerary for each. Doing these walks everyday has been a great way to introduce ourselves to the city and get exposed to the immense history here.

Being a history buff from the states, the depth of the history in Perugia is awesome to me. The city itself dates back at least 2,500 years to the Etruscans, a loose collection of city-states that occupied modern Tuscany and some of the surrounding regions before Rome (and may have even had a hand in founding Rome itself). The Etruscans were known for building walled cities on hilltops and portions of their walls and city gates are still plainly visible throughout Perugia today.

HOW COOL IS THAT? When looking at individual stones on the Etruscan walls, you can’t help but think of the Etruscan laborer that laid it in 500 BCE (or sooner)—what was he like? How different was his life from mine? Same with the city gates; people and goods have been travelling through these since the Iron Age. You just don’t get that type of in-your-face history in the states. And the crazy thing is it’s all still in use; trucks are still bringing food and commodities through those same gates. Roman structures were built right on top of Etruscan ones, medieval ones on top of Roman, on through the Renaissance and modern times. Peeking into shops or small offices, some of them literally have exposed Etruscan brick as their feature wall—how’s that for vintage chic?!?!

Adding to the explosion of history in Perugia, they’ve just started ‘Perugia 1416’ which is the city’s annual medieval festival. These festivals include period markets, dress, food, competitions, etc. and are very popular in Italian towns. We’ll write another post later about the festival and more details about the five districts, so stay tuned.

Here are some other blurbs from our first week in Italy:

  1. Schaefer is still a total champ. If you ever doubted that he was a city dog, you should see him here. He’s got a pep in his step that I haven’t seen in a long time. And he’s been keeping up with us; he’s going on all of our morning walks (2-3 miles each) and has enough energy to stroll around at night when we’re getting gelato, dinner, gelato, shopping, gelato, etc. Italy is also very dog-friendly compared to the states, so it makes it easy. The only places he’s not allowed are inside restaurants (most have patio seating), the supermarket (I’m happy to wait outside anyway), and churches (we carry him in for a quick peak sometimes). We’ve only left him in the apartment a few times so far, and those have been after especially busy days. He hasn’t fought these too hard anyway, he’s so pooped that he barely raises his head to see us out the door.
  2. We’re loving the affordability here. Considering the location and views, I think we got a pretty good monthly rate on our apartment. Part of the reason is that Italy in general (this region included) is very affordable. Back home, Kiley and I would always compete for who could best estimate the cost of groceries on each trip; here, we’ve both been WAAAYYY high. At the Saturday market just this morning we bought ten pounds-worth of fresh veggies, homemade bread, and local cheese for about $14. It’s not much, but it definitely helps control the anxiety levels, considering that both of us are in semi-retirement at the moment…
  3. We still haven’t adjusted to the time change. In our first week in Perugia, we’ve woken up anywhere between 4:30am and 11:00am local time. Not helping our internal clocks is the Italian meal/socializing schedule, and it all starts with the afternoon leisure time (don’t call it a siesta). Most shops close from 1:00-4:00ish and shortly thereafter is the apertivo, which lasts until 7:00ish. Think of the apertivo (literally, “to open up” as in your stomach) as a socially-mandated appetizer, but one that takes place two hours before dinner. Herein lies our problem; we eat too much apertivo, so we’re not hungry until at least 9:00! A leisurely dinner generally follows (in the Italian fashion) and it’s somewhere around 11:00 before we’re home. By the time we wind down, it’s way past our normal bedtime (we’re retired after all). Oh well, I suppose these are good problems to have. Va bene! We’ll figure it out eventually.

-Mike

The images above all include Etruscan, Roman, or medieval elements. Several structures include multiple elements. The Etruscan walls and gates include large white travertine stones; the medieval elements include much smaller red bricks.
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