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Report 472: Back to Uni to Learn Italian - A Month in Perugia

By Pamela R from Sydney, Australia, Fall 1998

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Page 13 of 31: Sunday 13th September

A free day and no alarm to jolt us awake, so we didn’t wake until 8.30. Breakfast was remarkably like last night’s dinner, identical in fact, as we didn’t want to go out early for supplies. We left around 10 o’clock for the Information Office for timetables and other information, intending to go somewhere for the day, but a cold wind made us wish we’d dressed in warmer attire so we decided to stay close to home and spend the day in Perugia. As we approached the Piazza IV Novembre we heard a marching band coming up the Corso which arrived at the piazza just as we did. They made a great sound, and after playing a few items in the piazza, they returned the way they’d come.

We walked up the stairs of the Palazzo dei Priori, opposite the Fontana Maggiore (sadly under a very permanent cover due to the restoration which has been in progress for six years and is due to be finished early 1999), and into the magnificently frescoed Sala dei Notari where we heard some musicians playing – a violist and guitarist. The white rosettes on the aisle chairs and a pair of decorated throne-type chairs facing the front gave us the distinct impression that a wedding was soon to take place. We enjoyed listening to the rehearsal and learned from an old gentleman that 11.30 was the time for the nuptials – he suggested we might like to stay and watch – so after a coffee and pastry at Sandri, we returned in time to enjoy the civil ceremony which included a lot of clapping and laughing. The mayor looked resplendent, draped in the rosso, bianco e verde of his ceremonial sash.

After the ceremony guests and onlookers waited outside (including about five men with supermarket-sized bags full of rice) until the couple were ushered outside with the ritual closing of the doors behind them. At this point the scene erupted amidst rice and pigeons in profusion beneath the 13th century bronze gryphon and lion statues (the symbols of Perugia) above the Gothic portal to the Sala.

While the guests and wedding party mingled, we excused ourselves and walked across the piazza and into the duomo. Its beautiful tile-patterned pink and white marble facade was sadly never completed, but the lower part is adorned by a splendid external pulpit from which San Bernardino preached.

A cardinal in green robes and red cap was officiating and we stood behind the last row of seated people to listen to the service, after which there was a collection followed by, at the cardinal’s bidding, everybody shaking hands with someone nearby. We were pleased to be approached by a man from a short distance away to share the greeting.

The huge interior of the duomo is quite impressive with lovely stained glass and several interesting chapels. Its main claim to fame is the city’s prized relic, the Virgin’s wedding ring, which is kept in a series of 15 boxes and only unveiled on 30th July each year. Around the pillar where it is housed in a glass case are thousands of votive medallions.

The wind had whipped up when we spilled out of the duomo and we were quite cold by the time we reached Piazza Fortebraccio on our way home. We had a quick meal in the small Chinese restaurant on the stairs beside Piazza Fortebraccio, then it was time for a nap.

Roland came down during the late afternoon to check some homework with Peter and also to report that Debbie was too tired to come out as planned for a meal this evening. Nevertheless we three went anyway and had a very good dinner at Brizi, just around the corner, for just L.20.000 a head, all up. [Peter and Roland – arrosto misto, Pamela – maiale alla brace, patate frite & melanzane]

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