At first, Perugia resembles many of the medieval hilltop towns in central Italy. Its landscape is flecked with charming pink and yellow roofs and encircled by ancient and medieval walls. This is a place, however, where magic meets modernity. Though the city has preserved its Etruscan roots, centuries-old churches, winding cobblestone streets, and an impressive smattering of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, it is also a vibrant contemporary city. Corso Vannucci, the main thoroughfare, hums with energy from restaurants, cafes, piano bars, theaters, pubs, museums, and art exhibits. Today’s Perugia offers an enchanting blend of ancient allure and modern vigor, breathtaking vistas alive with the pleasant bustle of la dolce vita.
Nicknamed the “University City,” Perugia boasts a thriving international student scene. Each year, thousands of Italian and international students flock to the city to attend the Università degli Studi di Perugia, the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, and its many studio and performing arts schools. Unlike the more popular tourist destinations, Italian is heard on every street corner and in every shop, making the city a gem for language students seeking a truly immersive experience. Every night, students gather on the steps of the duomo to eat, drink, and make merry. Part of living in Perugia is about being swept up in the city’s boisterous energy every time you step outside.
In other Italian cities, you are a tourist. A visitor. An outsider. In Perugia, you become one of the locals. You speak the language and eat the food. The city is both your classroom and your playground, offering a one-of-a-kind study abroad experience. This is not just a “study” abroad experience. It is a “life” abroad experience.
To help facilitate a smooth transition into life in Perugia, the Umbra Institute provides housing in apartments situated throughout the city center. Apartments are shared, and most house between two and six Umbra students. Students may also request to be housed with either Italian students, international students, or—for the truly ambitious—a host family. All student housing is within walking distance of the historic center and the Umbra Institute. Within a few weeks, you will get to know your neighbors; the city is small enough you are sure to bump into friends while out and about.
As there is no meal plan for the Umbra Institute program, you are encouraged to cook for yourself. All apartments are stocked with basic kitchen utensils, and many students delight in using them—they host dinners for one another, theme nights, wine-and-cheese tastings, etc. If cooking is not your forte, the Università per Stranieri offers low-price cafeteria meals, and the Umbra student ID card is valid for discounts at many trattorias, pizzerias, and pubs around the city. After all, it is Italy: delicious food is never far away.
Beyond the Classroom The Umbra Institute hosts many events, giving students the chance to participate in wine tastings, weekend trips, walking tours, tandem language exchange with Italians, pizza nights, art shows, sporting events, and so much more.
For students who are seeking even more adventure, the Social Center at the Università per Stranieri organizes a number of sporting events, concerts, and films in Italian, all of which are free to students. Umbra students can take part in the Università’s “Coro da Camera,” a student choir performing regularly at both the university and outside venues. Perugia also has a number of sports facilities, including gyms, swimming pools, tracks, and tennis courts that are available to students at reduced prices.