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Perugia (population 150,000) is a city in the region of Umbria in central Italy, near the Tiber river, and the capital of the province of Perugia.

Perugia gave its nickname to the famous painter Perugino (Pietro Vannucci), who lived and worked there. Another famous painter, Pinturicchio, lived in Perugia.



Perugia first appears (as Perusia) in history as one of the twelve confederate cities of Etruria. It is first mentioned in the account of the war of 310 or 309 BC between the Etruscans and the Romans. It took, however, an important part in the rebellion of 295, and was reduced, with Vulsinii and Arretium (Arezzo), to seek for peace in the following year.

In 216 and 205 it assisted Rome in the Hannibalic war, but afterwards it is not mentioned until 41-40 BC, when Lucius Antonius took refuge there, and was reduced by Octavian after a long siege. A number of lead bullets used by slingers have been found in and around the city (Corpus inscr. lat. xi. 1212). The city was burnt, we are told, with the exception of the temples of Vulcan and Juno--the massive Etruscan terrace-walls, naturally, can hardly have suffered at all--and the town, with the territory for a mile round, was allowed to be occupied by whoever chose. It must have been rebuilt almost at once, for several bases exist, inscribed Augusta sacr(um) Perusia restituta; but, as we have seen, it did not become a colony until AD 251-253.

It is hardly mentioned except by the geographers until the middle of the 6th century, when it was captured by Totila after a long siege. In the Lombard period it is spoken of as one of the principal cities of Tuscia . In the 9th century, with the consent of Charles the Great and Louis the Pious, it passed under the popes; but for many centuries the city continued to maintain an independent life, warring against many of the neighbouring lands and cities--Foligno, Assisi, Spoleto, Todi, Montepulciano , etc. It remained true for the most part to the Guelphs.

On various occasions the popes found asylum within its walls, and it was the meeting-place of the conclaves which elected Honorius II (1124), Honorius IV (1285), Celestine V (1294), and Clement V (1305). But Perugia had no mind simply to subserve the papal interests. At the time of Rienzi's unfortunate enterprise it sent ten ambassadors to pay him honour; and, when papal legates sought to coerce it by foreign soldiers, or to exact contributions, they met with vigorous resistance.

In the 15th century power was at last concentrated in the Baglioni family, who, though they had no legal position, defied all other authority. Gian Paolo Baglioni was lured to Rome in 1520 and beheaded by Leo X; and in 1534 Rodolfo, who had slain a papal legate, was defeated by Pier Luigi Farnese, and the city, captured and plundered by his soldiery, was deprived of its privileges. A citadel known as the Rocca Paolina , after the name of Pope Paul III, was begun six years later "ad coercendam Perusinorum audaciam."

In 1797 Perugia was occupied by the French; in 1832, 1838 and 1854 it was visited by earthquakes; in May 1849 it was seized by the Austrians; and, after a futile insurrection in 1859, it was finally united, along with the rest of Umbria, to Piedmont, in 1860.


Main attractions

  • Cathedral (Duomo) S. Lorenzo
  • Church of San Pietro (late 16th century)
  • Basilica of San Domenico (begun in 1394)
  • Church of S. Angelo (6th century)
  • Church of S. Bernardino (with façade by Duccio)
  • Fontana Maggiore, a medieval fountain
  • Galleria Nazionale, the National Gallery of Perugia
  • Ipogeo dei Volumni (Hypogeum of the Volumnus family), an Etruscan chamber tomb
  • National Museum of Umbrian Archaeology
  • Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo
  • Palazzo dei Priori (town hall)
  • Porta Augusta, a Roman gate with Etruscan elements
  • the Rocca Paolina, a Renaissance fortress

Other attractions

  • Etruscan walls
  • medieval aqueduct
  • The Tribunali
  • Piazza Matteotti
  • Teatro Comunale Morlacchi
  • Church of Sant' Agata
  • Church of Sant' Ercolano
  • Church of S. Francesco al Prato
  • Church of S. Giuliana
  • Church of S. Matteo in Campo Orto
  • Church of SS. Stefano e Valentino

Perugia is twinned with Bratislava, Tübingen (Germany), Grand Rapids, Michigan, Aix-en-Provence, and Seattle, Washington.

External links

  • Official Site
  • PhotoRoma's Perugia page*&Page=1
  • Bill Thayer's site

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

Last updated: 02-06-2005 15:14:40
Last updated: 02-20-2005 19:44:51