Perugia, Italy’s Unique Transportations System

Guest Post By:Margie Miklas

Hills of Perugia, ItalyLike many of Italy’s hill towns, Perugia has two sections, a lower town and the centro storico, or historic center high above. Since the roads leading to the centro storico were not made for heavy traffic, access to the hilltop section has been difficult until Perugia decided to create an innovative mode of transportation.

The city of Perugia began to solve the problem 30 years ago by developing its series of escalators known as scale mobile, and its more recent addition of the mini metro. Today the centro storico is predominantly a pedestrian area of the city, preserving Perugia’s ancient appearance and appeal to travelers as well as locals.

Scale Mobili

Scale Mobili of Perugia, ItalyAs early as the 1980’s, the city of Perugia decided to construct a mechanical-assisted walkway via a series of covered walkways, escalators and tunnels. This decision was a solution to address the difficulties in negotiating the steep streets leading to the historic section of the city. Beginning on the lower level at Piazza Partigiani, It operates on a series of cables and transports people from the centro storico on top of the hill to the lower part of Perugia, near the train station and other areas.

The escalators take you through a maze of the original network of streets and passageways of the old medieval city. These were essentially closed in during the 16 th century as they became part of the foundation of the Rocca Paolina, a fortress built for the Pope.  If you take the first elevator down from Piazza Italia across from Hotel Brufani, to the next level, you will find the ancient medieval street.

Each day over 20,000 locals and tourists use the scale mobile, allowing them to climb 50 meters or roughly 164 feet, in just under 15 minutes. Needless to say, this saves on walking time as well as your feet, which get plenty of exercise in Perugia, where every street, except possibly Corso Vanucci, is on an incline.

Mini Metro

Mini Metro of Perugia, ItalyThree years ago Perugia added the very modern Mini Metro, which is a small rail line that begins at the lower level of the town, climbing for three kilometers to the top. Built by Leitner Technologies, an engineering form from northern Italy, the Mini Metro is not so different from their usual products of ski gondolas. The ride takes 11 minutes at a cost one euro and 50 cents, and is really a cool experience. Consisting of unmanned cars, each of which can hold 30 people sitting and standing, the Mini Metro has a capacity of handling 3000 passengers an hour, 72,000 passengers a day, and 3 million a year.

The hours are not great for evening travelers though, as it closes at 9 pm except during the Umbrian Jazz Festival in July and Eurochocolate, Perugia’s big chocolate festival held every October.

Cobblestone hills of Perugia, ItalyPerugia is a great town to explore walking and these other transportation modes make things even better, giving you more time to spend exploring.

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