Underground Perugia

Historic Site in Perugia

Underground Perugia

Perugia, the largest city in Umbria, boasts a rich history owing to its strategic hilltop position overlooking Lake Trasimeno and guarding the Apennine mountain passes. What makes Perugia unique is its visible layers of history, both above and below ground. Visitors can explore remnants of Etruscan and Roman temples, ancient churches, and medieval city sections preserved beneath the 16th-century fortress expansion.

Piazza Partigiani allows access to an unexpected delight: escalators that take visitors underground, leading to parts of the old city covered by the Rocca Paolina fortress, commissioned by Pope Paul III in the 16th century. This underground journey reveals medieval streets and structures preserved under the fortress

The underground city traces back to a 16th-century conflict between the powerful Baglioni family and the Papacy. During this period, the Pope imposed a costly salt tax, leading to widespread starvation and rebellion in Perugia, known as the “war for the salt.” The Pope’s response included constructing the Rocca Paolina fortress, which involved demolishing Baglioni properties and incorporating existing medieval roads and Etruscan walls into its structure.

Today, visitors can walk through these medieval streets, now underground, emerging onto Corso Vannucci, Perugia’s main street. This journey offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s layered history and the significant events that shaped it.

Visiting the Perugia Undercity

To begin your journey into the depths of Perugia’s underground secrets, head to the Museo del Capitolo di San Lorenzo, located next to the cathedral of the same name. Be sure to check the visiting arrangements beforehand, as booking is required.

Your visit starts from the cloister of the Canonica, accessible via a side staircase. The first stop is the Sala del Conclave, a historic room where four Popes were elected: Honorius III, Honorius IV, Celestine V, and Clement V. The room appears divided by a mid-20th-century wall, built to support the cathedral floor above.

Exiting the Sala del Conclave, follow the indicated route to the remains of the Etruscan walls. These walls were constructed to enhance the grandeur of Perugia’s acropolis. In this area once stood a temple, possibly dedicated to Juno-Hera (Uni in Etruscan). This part of the town has been continuously inhabited since Etruscan times. Medieval vaults, built into the cathedral’s foundations, provide further proof of this uninterrupted use.

Continue along the ancient cobbled road, first used by the Etruscans and later by the Romans. Remarkably, the ruts left by cart wheels are still visible today. Following the ancient Roman road, you will eventually find yourself beneath Piazza Cavallotti, providing a fascinating glimpse into Perugia’s layered history.

The Underground Perugia appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Perugia!

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Visiting Underground Perugia


From 28 January to 15 July and from 15 September to 23 December: Monday-Friday 10.30am – 12.30pm / 2.30pm – 6.30pm

Guided tours every 60 minutes.

Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10.30am – 12.30pm / 2.30pm – 6.30pm Guided tours every 30 minutes.

From 16 July to 14 September and from 26 December to 7 January: Monday-Sunday 10.30 – 12.30 / 14.30 – 18.30

Guided tours every 30 minutes.



Address: Museo del Capitolo di San Lorenzo, Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes
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