The drive to Perugia from Rome really isn’t a big deal. If you’re Italian. I’m not Italian and it was an escapade that – although surrounded by the most beautiful scenery you can imagine – was heroic. It’s a word I like to use about my driving as often as possible.
As we made our way north, the sun started settling down into its western bed. As it did, the realization dawned that we had no bed of our own to settle into.
The biggest town for miles around, surely Perugia would have somewhere for us to lay our heads? By the time we pulled into the town, we were tired and in need of dinner. We parked in the first place we could find: in a hotel car park.
By employing the ‘but I’m driving’ excuse, I persuaded Mrs Romance to speak to the hotel staff. She didn’t like doing this because the hotel we were parked outside was the luxury four-star Hotel Brufani Palace – part of the highly regarded Cina hotel group.
“There’s no way a room here’s going to be less than €200 a night,” Mrs R explained.
I gulped but stood my ground. “It’s worth just asking what their best price is,” I trembled.
A quick Google search revealed Mrs Romance to be correct. Again. Cheapest room: €186. These were booked out. Next room up – a Superior Room: €225. More gulping.
Still, to her credit, Mrs R went and asked. It proved to be a very good move. They gave us a Superior room for €161.80!
Checked in, we explored the town. Perugia is the perfect example of an Etruscan city, perched upon a high hilltop overlooking the Umbria countryside and the Tiber Valley. With medieval laneways and steep steps weaving throughout the town, it’s not hard to imagine this place as it would have been hundreds of years ago.
Corso Vanucci – the main street of Perugia – is the hub of the town. Around 5pm restaurant tables hold centre stage, making for the best fresco dining hall you’ll find. By night, the tables slowly move back inside and the revelers have a chance to enjoy the town.
The great doors of Perugia Cathedral.
Perugia Art Gallery.
The doors of Perugia Art Gallery.
The best bar we found was a little hidden gem. Not exactly a rooftop bar but certainly an elevated verandah bar, you access it either through a door along Piazza Giacomo Matteotti and go right through the block to the other side or on Via Angusta past Ristorante il Paiolo all the way to the end. Sadly I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s well worth a look in.
Back at the hotel, we stretched out in our luxurious room.
The hotel is built on Etruscan ruins. These have been lovingly preserved for all to see. To do so, you just need to go for a swim! They have installed a pool and spa over the top of the ruins, which are protected beneath thick glass. It’s a unique and historic way to enjoy a dip!
Up the lavish staircase to the roof of the hotel is a beautiful verandah perfect for a summer’s evening drink or even better, a big party. The hotel is a popular spot for wedding receptions, and little wonder.
The Hotel Brufani Palace was a beautiful hotel to stay in. We wished we could have stayed longer as we drove away, heading north-west into Tuscany.
It just goes to show, even with top class hotels, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they can offer you a last-minute deal for the night. The thing is, you see, when a hotel has a vacant room, they’d rather have it full at a reduced rate that sitting empty and not earning anything.
We didn’t just head straight to Perugia. Leaving Rome, we couldn’t resist visiting some of the random little villages and ancient castles that pop up out of the Lazio and Umbria countryside like Italian mushrooms. Each one has a different story to tell. But the one thing they have in common: they’re all bloody beautiful.
If you’re heading that way any time soon or in the future, don’t miss a quick visit to Bracciano with its stunning lake and unusual triangular castle – the ‘Castello Orsini-Odescalchi’. More importantly, make sure you go to Ristorante Vino e Camino in the tiny piazza. Their wine and food is just…
Have you been to Italy? Where’s your favourite place to go?
Images by Mr & Mrs Romance.