Spoleto, Assisi, Perugia, and Jazz

by Andrew Stein

On our first full day together, the parents and I venture out of Orvieto and into central Italy. Before the day is done we will hit Spoleto, Assisi and finally Perugia. Although the main reason for going to Spoleto is that it is en route to Assisi, we also wanted to visit because it is another ancient city built on a hill that dates back to Roman times and is now famous for its annual music festival (which we miss by a couple weeks). We park the car at the bottom of the city, find a way to the top stopping along the way for espresso and snacks, and eventually complete our circle back to the car among its narrow streets and cute buildings. I wish all long car rides could have stretch breaks as pleasant as Spoleto.

Spoleto

Assisi of the famous Saint Francis of Assisi is our second destination of the day. Logically, because it was the birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan religious order, it is now home to the Franciscan monastery and an upper and lower church of St. Francis. Both churches are beautiful with their frescos depicting the lives of St. Francis and of Jesus. Between exploring some of the tourist hotspots, we enjoy a great meal at Trattoria Pallotta thanks to a little 3G plus TripAdvisor. The restaurant is a bit tricky to find despite my phone indicating our moving blue dot is directly over the restaurant’s pin. We look around for a bit and then notice that there is the sound of dishes coming from a window upstairs. We walk to the side of the building, notice some steps leading upwards, and eventually stumble upon our restaurant.

Assisi

Our last and most lively stop of the day is in Perugia. Every year, Perugia holds a summer Jazz Festival, and out of luck, we have timed it so that we are there in the middle of this year’s festival. Along with big crowds of people, we find small bands set up on the side of the street, a keyboardist and a guitarist improvising together near a cafe, someone painting on the sidewalk using chalk, a marching band dancing its way down the cobblestone, and stages set up in every plaza. The energy of the city is exciting, and although we do not sit down to watch an entire performance, we stop for a short time at each performer we pass and enjoy their tunes. The energy of Perugia is the perfect way to cap off our full day around central Italy.

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