Corso Vannucci

Perugia, Italy
Perugia, Italy

Submitted by: Christina Ferracane

This pulsating pedestrian thoroughfare is the heart of the hilltop town’s historic center.

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Why It Works

Corso Vannucci is part of a vibrant historic city center that has long been a people place. The center has maintained its appeal even through the region’s more recent periods of accelerated economic and physical growth. City planners ingeniously increased accessibility while preserving character; Corso Vannucci is the ultimate display of this success.

What Makes Corso Vannucci a Great Place?

You converge upon the Corso with many people who have come from nearby on foot — from an apartment within the city walls, after classes at the Universitá degli Studi, before mass at the Cathedral. If you come from farther away, buses and cars carry you to the parking garages just outside the historic city walls. From there, you ride an elevator or a series of covered escalators that glide you through ancient city ruins right up into Corso Vannucci.

The city center’s maze of winding roads lead you to the top of the hill, where the narrow medieval streets suddenly open up onto Corso Vannucci. Along Corso Vannucci, people proudly put flowers out on their windowsills; historic buildings are cleaned and restored; and stores spiritedly try to outdo themselves with creative window displays. With no cars to dodge and wide open space, you walk comfortably. There is a constant flow of people along Corso Vannucci, even in winter or late at night. You can stop to sit in the cafes or on the many steps and ledges along the Corso. These little nooks, the side streets and the smaller plazas connected by the Corso allow you to experience a sense of calm intimacy within the bustling expanse of open space.

The historic city center is always buzzing with activity and the closer to Corso Vannucci, the louder the buzz. Within the Corso’s 400m there are banks, clothing stores, museums, meeting halls, government offices, hotels, restaurants, cafes. Corso Vannucci is the stage for special events like festivals, demonstrations, concerts, art exhibits. But the most popular activity is to "fare la vasca": walk up and down the Corso. While you walk, you window shop, you run into a friend, you grab a gelato, then you stop to sit on the San Lorenzo steps and watch other people walking.

Corso Vannucci is the social center of Perugia. It is where demonstrations and celebrations are held, where students from the nearby lyceum hang out on Saturday afternoons, where an old couple come to walk arm-in-arm before an evening concert, or where a young couple push their babystroller while they windowshop. It is where you are as likely to run into an old friend as you are to strike up a friendly conversation with the stranger sitting next to you.

History & Background

Perugia’s first prosperous population, the Etruscans, date back to the 5th century B.C. The Arco Etrusco still stands as an entrance through the historic city walls. Perugia then survived Roman and Barbarian invasions to become a prosperous trading and military center during Medieval times. Many of the older buildings on the southern end of the Corso date back to this time. During the Renaissance, Perugia came under rule of the papal states, which in the 1500s, wanting to punish the city for its rebelliousness, constructed a fortress over portions of the city. The northern end of the Corso is built right on top of these buildings. In fact, the escalators that now take people up into the city, pass right through these relics of history.

To this day, Perugia has a thriving city center. And as you walk past the Arco Etrusco, the 13th century Fontana Maggiore, and the 1869 Pasticceria Sandri, you share the sense that Corso Vannucci has been at the center of everything for a very long time.

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