Perugia, Italy, the capital of Umbria, is a beautiful hill town 109 mi/176 km north of Rome. It is an important center for Umbrian and Tuscan art. Two universities in town fuel a vibrant arts scene and buzzing nightlife.

Around the town's main square, the Piazza Novembre IV, visit the National Gallery in the Palazzo dei Priori (it houses works by Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and Perugino), the Gothic cathedral and the 13th-century marble and bronze Maggiore Fountain. The chapel in Piazza San Severo has frescoes by Raphael and Perugino.

The crumbling walls of Rocca Paolina, a fortress built in 1373, offer great views from the highest point in town. There's a well-preserved Etruscan arch that was built right into the medieval wall fortifications on the northern side of town—look for the inscription, "Augusta Perusia," that dates from the first century. The Carducci Gardens offer a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. Allow at least half a day for the city itself.

Perugia also makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding region by car. Assisi, Gubbio, Orvieto and Urbino are all close by.

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