This was the second summer in a row that I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Zach Nowak in Perugia. He runs the Umbra Institute there and invited Sadé and I to come stay with him for a few days on the front end of our tour through Italy–Perugia, Florence, Venice, and Rome. Last summer, I was there during the Umbria Jazz Fest. This summer we weren’t quite so lucky–or maybe we were since we arrived before the crowds–and missed the festival by a few days.
Like much of Italy, there’s something magical about Perugia. From the walls that date to the Etruscan period to the warren of winding streets atop a mountain that form the aged heart of the city and ways in which bits of greenery drape over almost every rock ledge, the whole place feels slightly otherworldly.
It was Sadé’s first time there and even though we both enjoyed the rest of Italy, we agreed that Perugia was our favorite part of the trip. It might have been that we had such an excellent local guide. Or it could have been that very few tourists travel there and so, unlike everywhere else we visited, it was not packed–we mostly interacted with Italians rather folks from the United States. Or it could simply have been because it is such a beautiful city.
Somehow with my very modest Italian I was able to talk our way onto the top balcony of Università per Stranieri di Perugia, which occupies a five story eighteenth-century building by the most famous Etruscan gates, so that we could get a glimpse of all of it. Other highlights included a visit to the underground Roman ruins and a return trip to Bottega del Vino (which last year had an excellent jazz pianist who sang “Tu Vuo Fa ‘L’Americano”).
Maybe the best part–other than time with an old friend–was our trip to Bandito. It’s fabulous men’s clothing store. I got a new linen suit. It’s a beautiful piece and I’ve already worn on Sunday morning to great effect. It wasn’t cheap but it was also significantly less expensive than the equivalent item would cost in the United States. In fact, one of the things that I figured out years ago is the cost of a good suit in France or Italy is so much less than it is in the United States that it is almost worth going to Europe to just go suit shopping. I will be in Europe at least the next two summers. I certainly plan to do some more suit shopping while I am there.
For those not able to go to Italy, Bandito does ship worldwide and while you can’t get a custom cut suit via their website you can still get some really nice items for good prices on sale.