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168,187 inhabitants. Right in Umbria, one of the regions in the center of Italy that is becoming a major stop for American tourists, Perugia is a couple of hours drive north of Rome. Perugia is a hill town about 400 meters above sea level and like most cities in central Italy, Perugia was an Etrurian settlement absorbed by the growing Roman Empire, making it a city that has diverse traditions and architectural styles. On this note, it is possible to visit the Etrurian Well that is not only an historical site, but is today still the main water source in the city. Besides the well, there are many Etrurian tombs, many of which are the most well preserved examples of this culture that didn't leave much behind.
After the Etrurian period and the Romans, Perugia developed as any other medieval city and churches and palaces started to be built, and are still standing for the amusement of the tourists; among all of them, we remember the "Palazzo dei Priori" that took around 150 years to be built and it was finished in 1443, and today is the home of the City Hall. But, as said, the main historical attractions are definitely represented by the numerous churches that vary in style and size, but all equally worth a walk thru. The San Lorenzo Cathedral is one of them, as it is also nice to visit the San Severo chapel, which features a beautiful fresco from Raffaello.Taking for granted the splendid layout of the city, the most important monument in Perugia is without a doubt the Fontana Maggiore (Major Fountain) completed in 1278. The fountain is an incredible example of sculpture and it portrays diverse subjects that go from the zodiac signs to the months of the year, as well as important historical moments of Rome and even scenes from the Bible. The upper section of the fountain features great statues. The fountain is in the middle of the central plaza and it is often a gathering place for the youngsters that populate the city.
Indeed, Perugia is the home of the largest international university in Italy and one of the most prestigious in Europe. So far, about 8000 foreign students attend the classes every year, making it a very international environment. Unfortunately, in recent years Perugia and its university made front page news for the murder of Meredith Cara. This case attracted the interest of the international community, as the victim was British, killed on Italian soil, and one of the convicted killers is an American citizen.
Perugia is not only international because of its university, as every year it hosts the Umbria Jazz festival, one of the most important jazz events in the entire world. The event usually attracts some of the best players from the U.S., and their European counterparts, for amazing concerts under the Umbrian summer sky. Umbria Jazz occurs in July.
On the financial side of things, Perugia's economy is mainly driven by agriculture and small to mid-size companies, which seems to work extremely well as Perugia is a wealthy city. It is also the home of the food icon "Perugina", maker of the famous chocolate "Bacio" (kiss). Perugina is an Italian brand that grew in the Italian economic boom, and in recent years it was sold to Swiss giant Nestle.