A little bit of a slower start today after our hugely successful cooking class last night saw us head of south over the border to Umbria to visit the capital, Perugia. This compact hilltop city dates back to the 6th century BC and is rich in culture and history with many well preserved archaeological sites including the city gate and walls.
We started the day off with a visit to the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, one of the richest and most diverse collections in all of Italy, containing a comprehensive and complete collection of Umbrian art with sections dedicated to textiles, ceramics, jewellery and ancient graphics including masterpieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Works include those by Arnolfo di Cambio, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli and Piero della Francesca.
Perugia is also a university city with lots of modern culture and life intermingling with the medieval mixture which ensure there is always something happening in the city and today was no exception with medieval dancers in full costume and music in the main piazza next to the Basilica, mesmerising to watch.
After our visit to the National Galley we made our way to our hidden gem of a restaurant located in one of the oldest palazzi of Perugia that now houses a beautiful four star hotel with the most beautiful little courtyard setting complete with what could be ‘Juliet’s’ balcony. There we dined on succulent duck with a raspberry and mint sauce, trout steaks that melted in your mouth, pork loin and of course traditional pasta that just tastes unbelievably good and light!
Finishing our time off in Perugia we made our way to the city below the city, the Rocca Paolina, (Pauline Palace), it was built between 1540 and 1543 at the behest of Pope Paul III and represented until 1860 the symbol of papal power.
Partly destroyed in 1848, it was rebuilt in 1860 at the behest of Pope Pius IX. The fortress was finally demolished in the decades following its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy offering space for the construction of many 19th century buildings.
What was left of the fortress became the basement for the Papal Palace and finally became the ‘underground city’ of great charm and appeal that is now open to the public accessed by an escalator from the ground level. Today it is used for various cultural events and is definitely a place not to be missed on a visit to Perugia, just ask our guests!
Leaving Perugia behind we crossed the border back in to Tuscany heading home for a rest and some relaxation before our BIG night out!! Yes, the creme del a creme, our night in shining … jewellery! Although given how many medieval celebrations are happening in Cortona this weekend, it wouldn’t be hard to find ourselves also wearing some shining armour.
Leaving the hotel we were fortunate enough to snaffle a photo with some of the lovely costumed locals before we headed up the hill towards Del Brenna where we meet with Megan at their shop. It was like a fairy tale trying on all of the exquisite jewellery to see which piece we would wear to dinner tonight and in some cases not just the one piece but many. Oh my… I spoilt myself with my beautiful blue topaz ring this week but now I definitely have my eye on a beautiful signature necklace with coins that just made me feel like a princess tonight. I know the ladies really enjoyed the experience as did I before we set off to Del Brenna’s showroom and my oh my what a show room it is… it is one of those times that no matter how much I could write here it would never be enough to describe this hidden 13th century mill turned showroom gem.
Imagine walking through the door and being faced with the most divine chandelier setting of imposing proportions sitting above the elegantly set table with simply the biggest wine glasses I have ever set my eyes on. Every detail has been thought of and accomplished to the most outstanding level it truly did feel like we had entered our dream state. Starting off the night with Prosecco sprinkled with real gold dust set the scene for the evening… Sleepy Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White eat your hearts out… this was our night!
I had always when I first began conversing with the wonderful Sebastian and Megan about the possibility of hosting a dinner in their simply magnificent showroom dreamt of the possibility of how the dinner and night might unfold but I never excepted it to exceed my wildest dreams so I am not going to try and put in to words just how wondrous and special this night was for us… if you want to experience it, then you need to join us on tour because to do anything else would be to lesson the impact this fairy tail evening meant to us.
Thank you to Sebastian and Megan of Del Brenna Jewelry based in Cortona and friends for a night that we will never forget, it meant the world to us!! Grazie.