Looking for things to do in Perugia? When in Italy, exploring a few churches is always a good bet.
What top 10 list for things to do in an Italian city doesn’t have at least one church? But for your Perugia must do list?
And there are so many churches, cathedrals, and basilicas, which ones do you visit?
And regardless of how much time you have, you can’t see all the churches. But Perugia has some lovely examples of churches built in the 1100s, 1200s and 1300s. Ones that I am happy to return to time and time again.
Because these places of worship are not created equal. Many churches I admire from the outside, but I don’t find them beautiful, inspiring or spiritually moving inside. A good example? The duomo (or cathedral) of Perugia, San Lorenzo.
Perugia has many churches. I have yet to see them all, but these 5 are my favourites.
So if you need to escape the heat, the rain or even some wind, jump into one of these five churches.
The church of Sant’Angelo
There is little chance of stumbling across this small church. It’s not in the historic centre, you have to take a walk to Porta Sant’Angelo. There is a small road right before, off to your right, called via del Tempio and it’s at the end.
There’s a bit of a park in front with a gate that gets locked at 7 pm. It’s popular with university students for studying, dog walkers for a bit of green, and on a warm day perfect for eating your picnic lunch.
Why do I love it?
It’s a round church which was a Roman temple in the 5th and 6th century. The altar even dates from then. And before the Romans, it was a sacred spot for the Etruscans.
Making this Perugia’s oldest church.
The church was built like a patchwork quilt. They seem to have used whatever was lying around, all 16 columns is a different length, with a different corinthian above. And with the different Roman columns are different corinthians.
A happy mix of bits and pieces of Roman architecture in a round room that fills me with warmth and security.
Basilica of San Domenico
This Basilica is the largest church in Umbria.
You can spot it from the Giardini Carducci, looking out to Assisi. It takes center stage and generally on the Perugia skyline.
They began building it in the early 1300s and it was finished in the mid to late 1400s.
The altarpiece was painted by Fra Angelico and you can now find it in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.
Interested in Popes and tombs? There’s the 14th
The interior was redone in the Baroque era, which is almost always a negative for me. But. San Domenico does boasts one of the biggest stained glass windows in the world, an amazing 23 meters by 8 meters. Or 75 feet by 26 feet.
But I wouldn’t suggest going just for these things. San Domenico is also the home of the Archaeological Museum of Umbria.
An amazing collection from the local area of all things Umbri, Etruscan, and Roman, the museum is in the annex of the Basilica, so you get to walk through the arcaded cloister- worth the entrance fee alone.
Interested in visiting? Here’s a link to the museum. It isn’t in English, but the museum is open
Oratorio di San Bernardino
The Oratory is next to the Basilica San Francesco al Prato. Unfortunately, it’s been shut since the 1997 earthquake, so it’s only the exterior that we can enjoy.
But this isn’t a problem because what makes it special is on the outside.
The building is dedicated to Saint Bernardino of Siena who came and preached in Perugia often.
Completed in 1452, the facade is probably unlike anything you’ve seen. It’s both distinctive and original. From the Renaissance, Agostino di Duccio created this piece between 1457-61.
A relief carved in pink and blue stone. What I love about it is the
It’s considered one of the best Renaissance
When should you find it? Right before sunset. It’s a great spot to enjoy a sunset and take a few pictures.
Cappella of San Severo
I wish you better luck then I’ve had in showing up when this church is open. I’ve been multiple times and missed it by 30 minutes
But I’ll also list the hours at the bottom so luck isn’t needed.
This church you have to pay to visit. However, if you’ve purchased
But it was built over a pre-existing church from the 1000s.
So what makes this small church so special? It contains the only remaining fresco by Raphael in Perugia.
Painted from 1505-08, it depicts the Saints Mauro, Placido, the martyr Benedetto and Giovanni (the monk) beside the Trinity. The lower part of the fresco, all of the saints, was finished later in 1521 by Perugino.
And here’s the opening hours as promised:
- January, February, March, November and December
f11:00am-1:30pm / 2:30pm-5:00pm closed Monday *Closed December 25th and January 1st*
- May, September and October
10:00am-1:30pm / 2:30pm-6:00pm closed Monday
- June and July
10:00am-6:00pm closed Monday
- April and August (no lunch break in August)
open every day: 10:00am-1:30pm / 2:30pm-6:00pm
Basilica di San Pietro
To enter the Basilica di San Pietro costs 6 euros. Which is fine, included is a tablet that explains all the
What is now San Pietro began as a scared space for the
It might not be my favourite, but I love the woodwork throughout. It gives the space a much warmer feeling.
Things you should do inside San Pietro:
- Explore the Gothic wooden choir. It’s one of the finest in Italy and dates from the
- Go down below to see what could be an Etruscan tomb and graffiti.
- When close to the altar, turn around and look at the massive painting above the main entrance. You might just see a hidden image. Rumour has it it’s the devil outside trying to get in…but the church protects us from him.
Want to get a bit more for your money? You can try and see a concert here, an alternative way to see this church.
Find out if there are any classical concerts while you’re visiting
Here’s a link to the association who
An extra: the church of Sant Agostino
You’ll pass Sant Agostino on the road to and from Sant’Angelo.
A Gothic church built in the 1200s it has a checkerboard facade in rose and white stone giving it a simple and clean look.
Inside you will find many frescoes and side chapels that have been restored in their original Gothic style.
Make sure to find the Crucifixion painted by Raphael when he was a student of Perugino.
A note about the multiple Cathedrals and Basilicas in Perugia
Today the cathedral of Perugia is found in the main piazza. But that wasn’t always the case.
Long before, in the 6th century, the main church was were San Pietro is now.
Around 936 Perugia’s cathedral changed to what is now San Domenico. Then it was called Santo Stefano, but this building is long gone.
And it isn’t until the end of the 15th century that San Lorenzo, Perugia’s
The important church of Perugia missing?
Why is the Cathedral San Lorenzo not on my list?
I do love the outside, the design of the pink and white stone is classic. The side doors were even designed and built by my husband’s grandfather. Look for them on the opposite side from Piazza IV Novembre with the fountain.
However, inside I find it dark and gloomy. The acoustics suck. An
But don’t let me stop you. It’s free, so go inside and decide for yourself.
*I should also say, one thing I’d love to do is take a tour of under the cathedral, I’ve heard it’s amazing. Unfortunately, so far it’s only in Italian.
A note for visiting churches: Dress codes
While many churches aren’t strict about clothing out of respect it’s best to adhere to their dress code.
Men should remove their hats and have shorts that go past their knees.
Women should have their shoulders covered as well as their knees. In the summer I carry a light scarf around for this reason. It’s also great for sun protection and a bit of warmth in case a tomb is chilly.
At places like San Pietro in Rome or San Francesco in Assisi they do give out plastic bags for any bare shoulders or legs, but you could just get kicked out or refused entry.
Looking for the best Basilica in Italy?
Interested in visiting the most important cathedrals of Umbria? Make sure to spend a day in Assisi and a day in Orvieto. Both are glorious, but even if Assisi is the busiest place in Umbria, the Basilica of San Francesco is my