Perugia's History

Perugia: 493 metres a.s.l. Pop. 160,724 (2005)

Perugia's earliest settlements go back to the 9th century B.c. From the 6th century B.c. onwards the town gradually developed into a harmonious fusion between town and hillside, the one adapting to the other over the centuries, reaching its maximum expansion in the Middle Ages. Etruscan Perugia, with its massive city walls, was one of the twelve key cities of the Etruscan Federation, developed between the Landone and Sole hills. The Etruscan Arch and the San Manno and Volumni Hypogea still bear eloquent witness to the Etruscan period.

Perugia IV Novembre SquareIn the 1st century B.c. the town fell under Roman rule: in 40 B.c. the city was burned during the civil war between Octavius and Mark Anthony: it was later restored and rebuilt by the same Octavius (now Augustus Caesar), who named the town 'Augusta PerusiĆ  to emphasise his dominion. In early Christian times the city expanded beyond the city walls. In 548 Perugia was totally destroyed by Totila.
In the 12th century, when the Byzantine rule ended, the 'Free Communes' came into being. This brought about radical changes in urban planning, with the town layout assuming its typical star pattern and the building of architectural gems such as Palazzo dei Priori and the Fontana Maggiore, as well as administrative changes, with the development of the circle of fortified villages that today still characterise the local landscape. In this period PerugiĆ s prestigious university was also founded.
Turbulent times followed under the rule of various lords, from Biordo Michelotti to Braccio da Montone. In 1425 the town fell to Papal rule, though in actual fact it was governed by the crypto-lordship of the Baglioni dynasty. In 1540 there was the "salt war": the building of the Rocca Paolina marked the town's defeat, with the Baglioni district destroyed and partially incorporated into the Rocca Paolina. Tensions with the Church remained constant: in 1859 the town was sacked by the Pope's army in response to a people's revolt that led to the partial destruction of the hated Rocca Paolina.

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