Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top 5 things to do in Perugia during Umbria Jazz

1. Start your day with a cup of coffee at the oldest coffee bar in town, Pasticceria Sandri, which was founded in 1860. The historic interior is beautiful, especially the ceiling! It's also a great place for people watching. Many locals start their day with an espresso or cappuccino and a pastry at Sandri. Judges, lawyers, hairdressers, housewives, shop assistants... they can all be found standing at the counter. You see, Italians usually don't sit down for their daily shot of "caffè". (NB. don't ask for a "latte" when all you really want is a coffee with milk. Otherwise you will just get a glass of milk.) In summer Sandri has outdoor seating on Corso Vannucci. The best part though, is their shop window, with lots of beautiful cakes. During Umbria Jazz they even have music themed cakes!

2. Go shopping! During Umbria Jazz it's summer sale time in Perugia, a perfect opportunity to shop at the fanciest stores in town, which you'll find on and around Corso Vannucci. Are you looking for a pretty cocktail dress or an elegant linen suit? Paris Ricci is your place. For a trendy top or pair of jeans, Paris Loft is one of my favourites. Shoes by Prada and Jimmy Choo can be found at Forma. Intimissimi (part of a big international chain) offers affordable yet fashionable lingerie. In case you're looking for original, high quality souvenirs, take a look at the ceramics from Deruta on the steps of Perugia's cathedral. Oh and don't forget to stop by the Umbria Jazz merchandise stand for a mandatory t-shirt. It could well be the start of a new collection.

3. Enjoy the local food! Oh... where to start? La Bottega del Vino is one of the official venues for Umbria Jazz. Probably the tiniest, but also the coziest one! La Bottega del Vino is a wine bar that serves wonderful local dishes like chicken liver crostini, pasta "cacio e pepe", soups and salads. They're open for lunch, "aperitivo" and dinner. Reservations are in order! La Taverna is another great option. This is a fancy restaurant with international as well as traditional Umbrian dishes (from steak tartare to truffle ravioli, from gluten free to vegetarian options, La Taverna has it all). In case you don't want to break the bank or are dying for a pizza... Pizzeria Mediterranea is the place to be. Go early, or prepare to wait in line (outside) to get a table.

4. Go sightseeing! Perugia is a beautiful city with Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance remains. Walk around town to discover how the different eras have influenced the city. Every corner you turn, there's a nice view, a photo opportunity, a memory waiting to happen. The must-see attractions are of course the famous Fontana Maggiore, a medieval fountain built between 1275 and 1278; the Pozzo Etrusco, an Etruscan well and the Arco Etrusco, a big Etruscan arch; the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, the National Gallery of Umbrian art in Middle Ages and Renaissance and finally the Rocca Paolina, a Renaissance fortress (1540–1543) that is still open to the public! In fact, it has built-in escalators that will bring Umbria Jazz concertgoers to/from the Arena.

5. And last but definitely not least... listen to the music! Whether you choose to go to the free concerts in the city centre, or to buy tickets for the Arena or the Teatro Morlacchi, you can't go wrong. The festival offers such a big diversity in music styles, there's something for everyone. The younger crowd might prefer the Piazza IV Novembre (Alissia Benveniste & The Funketeers) or the Giardini Carducci (Patrick Williams & the Blues Express among others), in front of the fancy Brufani Hotel; true jazz connaisseurs will love the Morlacchi (Brad Mehldau Trio; Bill Frisell; Diane Reeves)! The biggest venue on the other hand, the Arena will host big stars like Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock, Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil, the Brand New Heavies and Incognito. Now all you gotta do is... show up on time! (Ps. Don't forget to bring your dancing shoes!)

For more information please visit the Umbria Jazz website:

You can also read some of my previous blogs:
Paris Ricci:
Paris Loft:
La Bottega del Vino:
La Taverna:
Umbria Jazz Photo Diary:

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