One afternoon in the Umbrian capital Perugia is not enough, especially with all the different quarters to explore. The best way to get a quick impression of this fascinating historic city is by taking the MiniMetro, which will get you to the most important landmarks in no time, not to mention give you a very unique perspective. If you live in a large metropolitan city and are used to the intricate and extensive subways and trams like I am, the MiniMetro is like jumping into a toy train in Disneyland and you half expect to get off in some exotic adventure land at the end. In comparison to ticket prices in Germany for public transportation, traveling around Italy with TrenItalia, BusItalia and the local networks is affordable and definitely budget-friendly.
Some guidebooks have described the MiniMetro to resemble a cable car more than a subway, and I have to agree. The capacity is about the same, if not less, of a cable car, and for the Hong Kong fans, this will remind you of the Victoria Peak tram. The cars are electronically operated, so there is no driver, and they come every three minutes without fail. At the end of the line, the cars rotate electronically as well on what looked to me like a giant Lazy Susan so that they can head back in the other direction. There are no announcements for the different stops either, you just have to read the name on the door. But I have to admit that I just couldn’t shake the Disneyland feeling as the little car chugged up, down, around, and through tunnels.
The heart of Perugia lies high above the modern quarters, its roots dating back to 650 BCE, being one of the main Etruscan cities of the period. It is a thriving city, not just because of the university (founded in 1308) but also the economy and infrastructure. Unlike the other Umbrian cities who rely heavily on wine and olive oil for the economic backbone, Perugia has a sweet economy, the main product being chocolate! The Baci Perugina (the Italian Kiss, or to be more precise, the Perugian Kiss) is not in any way related to the Hershey Chocolate Kiss. I had no time to get my hands on these jewels, as they are fondly referred to by the locals, but I did indulge in an exquisite cup of thick hot chocolate, a flavour that went straight to my soul and at that moment I thought, screw cappuccino and espresso!
Like the other Umbrian places, however, the old part of the city is a living dream of interwoven alleys, staircases, balconies, archways and windows. It doesn’t really matter whether you know where you are headed to or not, or where you eventually emerge, one simply has to get lost in Perugia.