After spending the last three days in Rome it was time to pick up our hire car and tackle the Italian traffic head on. We thought it best not to tempt fate by driving in Rome so we organised to pick up the car in Perugia, which was a train journey of a little less than 3 hours away. The hire car depot was at the train station so the transition from one to the other, once we arrived, was stress-free and took about 15 minutes (Avis car hire – you rock).
Once that was sorted it was time to stretch our legs and have a look around. The Avis office was very helpful and pointed us in the direction of the mini metro, which is a little (and I mean little) unmanned automatic train which takes you up to the old part of town, way up on the hill, it was that or a million flights of stairs/escalators!
Using our trusty “Triposo” app we learned that Perugia had a 16th Century Fort – Rocca Paolina – at the top of the hill that was built using the medieval streets as foundations. From the mini metro, through a series of escalators and tunnels, we eventually found ourselves sipping espresso and eating cake at a cafe in one of the piazzas. This city is built on so many different levels, and with lots of ups and downs it is easy to get lost which is not such a bad thing.
Sadly we didn’t give ourselves enough time to properly explore this city as who knew there was so much to see! We had to get going as we had places to get to before dark and not having driven in Europe before we were a little apprehensive. So with our trusty GPS “Helen” to assist we hit the road.
Driving in Italy – Where does one start? This was probably equal parts the most thrilling and scary driving I’ve ever done, If you could imagine driving a manual car on the wrong side of the road with the controls (steering wheel, indicators, wipers etc) on the wrong side of the car, on congested roads with Mario Andretti reincarnates in every other vehicle you’re getting close!
Our first stop on the way to Siena was Assisi, which is a small town, again perched on a hilltop and most famous as the birthplace of St Francis.
You have to park the car and walk as the streets are only as wide as an axe handle, but oh so cool. Really lovely place, narrow street, lots of stone everywhere. We only had a wander around and looked through the Basilicas. There is an upper basilica and a lower basilica, built on top of each other, both full of the most beautiful frescos. Most of the shops were shut, we’re not really sure if that was a seasonal thing or just the wrong time of day, whatever the case we couldn’t hang around as we weren’t sure how long it would take us, or what to expect driving on the motorways, so we thought it best to leave Asissi and more exploration for another time (we live in hope at least!), and we headed for Siena.
See more Pictures on our Flickr Album
Next time…..Siena and Florence.