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Perugia Through a Student’s Eyes: Navigating Markets, Music, and the Food Scene

A Personal Guide to Perugia by Allie Ahlbeck

Studying abroad can be intimidating. You are in a new place, with a new culture and it can be daunting to encounter the unknown. While these feelings of uncertainty and unfamiliarity are very real at the beginning of your study abroad experience, you will soon find yourself roaming the streets of Perugia with a sense of confidence and familiarity. I know from experience that becoming comfortable and familiar with Perugia will take some time, so here are some things to do and places to eat as you are settling in and exploring Perugia!



Markets in Perugia offer a diverse shopping experience on a weekly basis. Some markets specialize in food, others in clothing, and there are those that offer a mix of everything you could possibly need or want. Umbra students particularly enjoy visiting the Mercato del Sopramuro for fresh produce. This market, held on Wednesday mornings in Piazza Giacomo Matteotti (just a five-minute walk from the Umbra Institute), is a favorite. Alternatively, students often take the Minimetrò to the last stop, Pian di Massiano, on Saturday mornings. Here, they can scour the large market for vintage clothing or local produce. Bargaining for better prices is part of the fun!

Christmas Market
Christmas Market

In addition to these popular weekly markets, students also delight in exploring the seasonal markets. For instance, the Fiera dei Morti is a huge fair that takes place during the first week of November. It coincides with the Catholic observance of the “Day of the Dead,” on November 2nd, a day dedicated to remembering and honoring deceased loved ones.

Last but not least are the Christmas Markets. These local markets, located in Corso Vannucci in the heart of the city center, are bustling throughout December. Students flock here for clothing, local food, sweets, and jewelry, immersing themselves in the festive spirit.


Perugia is a shopper’s delight, filled with everything from independent shops to brand-name stores. Umbra students often have fun wandering through the city center, engaging in both actual purchasing and window shopping (after all, many are still budget-conscious college students!). Popular shops among students include Studded, Subdued, Flying Tiger, and Scout.


A very popular record store in the area, Musica Musica, is conveniently located near the Pincetto Minimetro Station. It attracts both locals and visitors who come to browse the store’s large array of records. Right next to Musica Musica is the Indigo Art Gallery and Café. This café often hosts musicians, performing in their beautiful and cozy space – a great place for students to hang out with friends and enjoy live music. They announce nights with live music on their Instagram, @indigoperugia.


Just under a 10-minute walk from the Umbra Institute is PostModernissimo, a popular movie theater for Umbra students. This theater is especially great for students as it often shows films in English, making it a go-to spot for entertainment.



Breakfast with Iced Coffee from Pinturicchio Café
Breakfast with Iced Coffee from Pinturicchio Café

Pinturicchio Café and Kitchen: Although this spot is named after the Perugia born painter, Pinturicchio, the menu is far from Perugino. It’s a favorite among Umbra students craving American-style foods and coffees. Some favorite menu items are their bagels and American style breakfast (These items are best when accompanied by a chai or matcha latte!). This spot is also a great spot to do homework (Yes, they have WIFI!) In addition to getting your American food fix, this spot is also super special because of their friendly staff who always want to make sure you leave happy and satisfied.



Fusilli Dish from Il Cantinone
Fusilli Dish from Il Cantinone

Ristorante Il Cantinone: This spot is a hidden gem (No, really! It’s tucked behind an archway!), but once you try this spot, it is impossible to forget! Less than a minute’s walk from the Umbra Institute, Il Cantinone is conveniently located for all students. The restaurant boasts a spacious indoor seating area and charming outdoor seating for pleasant weather. The menu features a wide array of typical Perugino cuisine, ensuring you’ll never tire of the options. Each visit is an opportunity to try something new and delicious—I highly recommend their fusilli with cherry tomatoes and stracciatella cheese!


Christmas Panettone at Sandri
Christmas Panettone at Sandri

Sandri: An institution in Perugia since 1860, Sandri is perfect for a morning cappuccino and cornetto before class, thanks to its proximity to the Umbra Institute. It is also a great place to go for aperitivo because they have super delicious snacks that my friends and I affectionately call “trinkets”. I think this café is particularly special because of the grand decor and paintings on the walls and ceilings: Sandri feels like a step back in time! 


Cornetto con Crema and Cappuccino from Turan Café
Cornetto con Crema and Cappuccino from Turan Café

Turan Café: Turan is another excellent cafe located close to institute. Turan, like Sandri, is popular amongst Umbra Students for a pre-class cornetto and cappuccino. They also have excellent tiramisu (which served as my birthday cake while abroad!). Turan Café is also known for their homemade chocolate and their delicious hot chocolate!


Postogiusto: Known among Umbra students as “the bowl place,” Postogiusto is a favorite for lunch due to its two-minute walking distance from the Umbra Institute. It offers a dual experience: one section for grab-and-go sandwiches, and another for customizable bowls. With countless toppings, you can create a rice-based or lettuce-based bowl that’s both fresh and vibrant.

While these are some current favorites of Umbra students, they only scratch the surface of what Perugia has to offer. I hope this guide serves as a starting point for you to delve deeper into the city’s amazing sights and culinary traditions. Don’t hesitate to wander aimlessly through Perugia and explore beyond your comfort zone—some of the best discoveries are made this way!

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