Panorama of Perugia in Time and Space
Perugia is a hilltown situated at an altitude of 493 metres above sea level. There are many panoramic terraces in the city where you can observe splendid views of the Tiber Valley, green Umbrian hills and distant blue mountains. You can see in the north Monte Tezio and Gubbio, in the east – Monte Subasio and Apennines, in the south – Monte Malbe. The Tuscan and Lazio plains stretch in the west. Umbrian landscapes are notable for their aquarelle peaceful charm.
In prehistoric times, the territory was inhabited by Umbrian tribes which gave the name to the whole region. The first record of Perugia (Perusia) dated from 310 BC. At that time, the city had an important status as one of the 12 confederative Etruscan cities. In 295 BC Perusia took part in the Third Samnite War of Italic tribes against Rome. The Romans defeated Italics and Perusia aliened with Rome. In 216 and 205 BC, Perusia, as an ally of Rome, took part in the Second Punic War against Hannibal. Though Romans were defeated in the battle of Trasimeno, Perusians remained loyal to them.
One more important mentioning of Perusia goes back to the last years of the Roman Republic. In 41 BC, Lucius Antonius, the younger brother of Marc Antonio, tried to stir up a revolt against Octavian, the young successor of Julius Cesar. Lucius was forced to retire to Perugia with the senators who supported him. Octavian laid siege to the well protected town and it took him seven months to seize it. Perugia was set on fire, the senators were put to death, but Lucius Antonius’s life was spared. The time for open war between Octavian and Antonio was yet to come. A few years later Octavian, by now Augustus, promoted the reconstruction of Perugia and granted it an honorific title which can still be read on the city gate: Augusta Perusia. You can read more about Perugian history in the interesting post “A Rebellious Town – Perugia”.
The city was in oblivion for several centuries. In 547, Perugia offered strong resistance to Ostrogoth King Totila who seized and ruined the city. Herculanus, the bishop of Perugia, who headed the delegation of citizens on talks with Totila, was put to brutal death. He was stripped the skin off and then beheaded. Saint martyr Herculanus is the patron saint of Perugia.
The heyday of Perugia came under the longobard rule. It became one of the most important cities in Tuscia. In 11th century, the town commune proclaimed its independence.
Modern Perugia has retained the medieval layout of the 11th century. At that time, the city was divided into five administrative regions (rioni) according to the number of gates in the city wall: Porta Sole, Porta Sant’Angelo, Porta Santa Susanna, Porta Eburnea и Porta San Pietro. Each gate had its own head (Captain of the gate or Head of district), as well as a representative in the town administration, such as a prior or decimvir. Each district had its own heraldic color and emblem (a saint or a mythological animal).
Along five main streets of mediaeval Perugia now run tourist itineraries which are characterized by different historic, cultural and architectural features.
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