The oldest colonial town in Peru, Piura was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1532. Originally on a site north of the Chira River, it was moved to its present location in 1588, 120 mi/195 km northwest of Chiclayo. We particularly enjoyed Jiron Lima, the best-preserved colonial street in town. The cathedral on the shady Plaza de Armas includes works by local artists. The archaeology museum displays 2,000-year-old Vicus pottery and gold work. For history buffs, there's a naval museum in the house of Admiral Grau, hero of Peru's 1879-1883 War of the Pacific.

A day trip to nearby Catacaos should include a stop at the handicraft market there (wood, straw and leather goods, as well as gold- and silver-filigree work). The beach resort of Mancora sits 116 mi/187 km from Piura.

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