Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Italy - Perugia

Dedicated to the MBTIES

I'm in Perugia now, an Umbrian town loaded with medieval streets, Renaissance architecture, Etruscan ruins and darkened arched alleys lined with buildings that curve out into the street.

There is also a disturbingly obvious gypsy presence. They've been hassling a lot of people outside the major piazza beside the cathedral and marble fountain, but I've been able to avoid them. The climate is virtually Canberran - striking clear skies and warm in the sunshine, but chillingly cold at night and in the shady covered streets. There are virtually no tourists - it is unmistakeably low season - and the hostel is predominantly occupied by Italian speaking students, mostly from Africa. (Apparently Ethiopia has an Italian heritage link due to a former colonial occupation).

It's been one of those days were I really don't think I've been up to much, but when i itemise it mentally, it sounds like a very busy sequence. I've been deep down Etruscan wells and under middle-ages fortifications, (using escalators no less!), gaining an appreciation for Umbrian pre-Renaissance masters, and discovered a Raphael fresco in a tiny chapel within a labyrinth of stairs, twisting streets, and ramshackle residences. There have been lots of individual sites of note but those will be entered in my diary, not here.

In fact, the diary has been attracting a lot of interest lately from other travellers, so I'm looking forward to showing it to you sometime. It's beyond the stage where I can close it easily due to the amount of interesting ephemera it has digested, and has developed an acute and ornate horror vaccui (fear of empty spaces). You may now need a magnifying glass to read the most recent 50-odd pages.

I'm staying here for two more nights, and will use it as a base to explore Assisi tomorrow. Perhaps I shall backtrack to Urbino before heading down to Rome, as it was once a critically important cultural centre. Who knows?


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