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Urban Trekking!

Perugia is renowned for its ability to preserve its cultural past. Indeed, when you walk its tiny alleyways, peruse its quaint shops and charming farmers’ markets, you can’t help but feel that time has slowed for this city upon a hill.

But aside from an aesthetic retention of its two millennia plus history, Perugia has also managed to hold onto a plethora of artesienal traditions, which only lend to the city’s sense of Italian authenticity.

As a part of the summer session’s Intensive Italian through Culture program, students are given a tour of these artesienal workshops and crafts guilds, in order to become better acquainted with what their city has to offer.

This morning, students made their first stop just up the street from Umbra’s main academic building, on Via dei Priori, in a small ceramics shop known affectionately in Italian as “Il Pozzo delle Ceramiche Tattichi”. Students crowded into the small but neat and well kept shop, where they were given a demonstration on how exactly the artist-owner, Maria, plied her intricate trade.

And granted, while Maria didn’t have time to finish one of her Deruta-made ceramic pieces, students nonetheless had ample opportunity to see the finished product. Nestled on shelves rested countless gorgeous works of art, all done of course by Maria in her shop.

From there it was onto Perugia’s beloved “rilegatoria”, or book-binding shop, that sits slightly off of a creased tourist map. Here students were guided through the medieval process of bookbinding and leather making, and the “rilegatore” even showed students how to paint the leather bindings, made of goat skin.

The students then set off to the opposite side of Perugia to a hand woven fabric artisan. The Brozetti workshop uses 18th century hand looms (the only in all of Italy who weave fabric by hand) to create beautiful and intricate tablecloths, centerpieces, tassels, etc, out of cotton, linen and even silk. The factory is housed in the church of San Francesco delle Donne and it is a truly magnificent place.

Fortunately, as the students left the Brozetti workshop, some of the bad weather that had hounded the students since they started their journey earlier in the morning moseyed on down the valley, making way for a little bit of summer sun. And how befitting! The last stop of the trek, a chocolate workshop, required a healthy amount of rays, naturally! The shop, Augustia Perusia, is run by a true master of the cocoa bean. Students saw his various tasty wares, and even had the chance to sample some of the fine dark stock. It was a wonderful end to an eye-opening day!

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