Golden Day Thirty-Seven: Pretty Times In Perugia
The trip up to the central piazza of Perugia is a thrilling mix: you’re on a state of the art series of escalators rising over ancient city walls, gliding past humble homes with signoras peeking out as they water their geraniums in their window boxes, an aqueduct, those soft hills in the distance…and then you land in this vast Piazza with the Fontana Maggiore.
It’s fun just to stroll about past the chic shop windows, loads of chocolate displays (no secret this place is home to Perugina, maker of Baci), maybe even peek into the Cathedral of San Lorenzo to check out the chapel where the Virgin Mary’s wedding ring is kept.
A favorite spot of mine is the San Francesco delle Donne (Church of the Women). It’s all airy Gothic and hasn’t actually been a church in a long time–it was deconsecrated during Napoleon’s day and turned into a weaving workshop. In the early 20th century a mover-and-shaker-of-a-woman, Giuditta Brozzetti, who wanted to keep the art of weaving alive in Perugia, put 300 women to work in this spot, turning out gorgeous textiles on Jacquard looms. The looms are still there, with a much smaller staff. The work is exquisite, producing richly colored table linens with beautiful swirling designs, and delicately embroidered pieces. They’re all displayed on round tables at the spot that was once the church’s altar. It’s one of those lovely shopping/cultural experiences Italy offers–with–heavenly light pouring in from the arched church windows on to the whole scene.
Marta Brozzetti, the great-granddaughter of the Workshop’s Founder, is the ultra-chic designer who’s now running this place. If you’d like to take the experience beyond shopping, you can sign up for weaving classes with Marta–from a day to a whole week. Or you may be like me–more interested in embroidery…remembering my tween years when I actually sat still and embroidered all colors of Peace symbols on jeans, flowery pillow cases. So my plan is sign up for classes with Lina Montagnoli (above), who’s been embroidering for 50 years. She teaches medieval designs, and has a following among the local women who call her classes “group anti-stress therapy.”
I’m imagining what it would be like to even have just one whole day in here…stitching…
And then for dinner strolling over to Il Falchetto (Via Bartolo 20, 075 573 1775)–for a good bowl of taglierini with black truffles shaved over it.
To top off the night, check out a jazz club–this is after all the place that’s home to the world famous Umbria Jazz Festival that takes over the town for two weeks every July.
The cool spirit lives on throughout the year in Perugia–especially if you stay at Hotel Gio, in a jazz themed room…