The Minimetro Doesn’t Go Where I Need It To

The Minimetro is adorable.

Perugia’s rail system, with tiny cars that run on tiny wheels, carried along a curvy track by a looped cable is the cutest thing ever. I find it encouraging that they are able to have this given the relatively small local population of 165,000. And I want one.

The course it runs is linear, with 7 Minimetro stations along its length. The only important stops for me are the train station and the historic center. I rode it from one end to the other, which took about 15 minutes, to see where it goes. Sadly I discovered that there’s not much else along its route of interest. Still it was a fun ride.

A more extensive route would have been beneficial because at the moment my calves are killing me. It’s all the hills and steps here. In a sense that’s not surprising given that this is a hill town. Still, I haven’t climbed this much since the hike to Machu Picchu, just over a year ago. This place is ridiculous.

I’m not really properly organized for this trip, which isn’t helping my legs. If I was smart I would go one direction at a time, but I’m failing to do that. For example, after walking out along the aqueduct yesterday, I reached a tall flight of stairs and turned around rather than climb them (that picture above is the stairs looking down). Had I bothered to read my guidebook, I would have discovered that the Church of Sant’ Angelo (aka the Temple of St. Michael, Archangel) lies that way.

So first thing today, I had to go that direction again, hoping to make it before the rain begins. And I climbed high up the steps and walked down quiet streets until I found the way opening before me.

There aren’t a lot of round churches, although there are some in central Italy. At least some sources suggest this may have been the site of an earlier Roman temple, given the circular arrangement of columns within.

Actually the columns here are arranged in concentric circles, which I’m told further reinforces the notion of a prior existence as a pagan temple.

Speaking of Peru, I remember a discussion we had in Cuzco. Our guides said the Spanish conquistadors there often built churches on the sites of Incan temples. Some romantic part of me wants to believe that it is because these sites have an intrinsic mystical power, and that such powers inherently draw people of any faith.

More practically, by taking a site, the conquerors (in this case the Christians) are probably getting a new place for worship on the cheap. And in some sense they are also claiming power over the faith that is in decline. In this case they would have “Christianizing” the city visually. We saw a similar pattern in Istanbul, where churches were converted to mosques after the first Sultan arrived.

Back in town I continued retracing my steps. Yesterday when the rain started to fall, I returned to the historic center, skipping some of the sights that I could have seen near the Archaeological Museum. One of the places I wanted to see was the church of San Pietro, described as one of the more elaborately decorated churches in Italy.

I agree that the choir is beautiful.

With some amazing woodwork.

And there were some fantastic works of art, such as this depiction of Judith with the Head of Holofrenes by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato.

Overall, though, I don’t know if it was worth the walk. Guidebooks are in the business of upselling their sites, but they can’t fool me. I’ve been in more churches than I care to count, and I wouldn’t rank this in the top 10. Not even if I limit that list to Italy.

I stopped for lunch on the way back, this massive pile of meat and cheese, and managed to reach to my hotel just before the thunderstorms hit.

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