The nearby cities of Perugia and Gubbio offer a wonderful glimpse into the culture of the Umbrian region. Perugia is the capital of Umbria and a respected university town with an eclectic flavor: there are Gothic palaces, jazz cafes, ancient alleys, and a nineteenth-century shopping promenade. Juxtapositions of medieval and contemporary culture are everywhere, making it a very appealing city. On a clear day, there is a great view of Assisi in the distance, a reminder that the young Saint Francis was captured and held captive by the Perugians for over a year. Perugia’s most famous export is Baci, chocolate-coated hazelnuts with a Romantic proverb written in the wrapper.
Gubbio is the classic Umbrian hill town, a medieval city with fortress-like buildings stacked at the base of a mountain on which sits the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo housing the remains of the city’s patron saint in a glass casket. In the Museo del Palazzo dei Consoli one can view the remarkable Eugubine Tables, the only existing record of the Umbri language inscribed on bronze tablets dating from 200-70 BCE.