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Perugia with my Senses


Kia Dunn
(Umbra Institute, Fall 2013)

I came equipped with elementary knowledge of the Italian language and a passion for discovery. I’m retraining my brain on how to interact with strangers without feeling threatened, and respecting the culture I’ve thrusted myself in to. My new home is vastly different from what I had expected; yet my expectations have been exceeded.

Perugia looks like a picture ripped out from a history book. Its cobblestone streets and sepia toned buildings are classic antiquities that are anything but dull. The cracks in buildings, thousands of years old, are filled with newer bricks but rarely ever replaced completely. The churches, apartments, and stores seem ancient with no clear date of construction- unlike most cookie cutter buildings back at home that are younger than myself. Perugia looks like a city with a past, a city with a story, and a city that wont ever completely break.

Perugia tastes like a few glasses of red wine. At first it can be bitter to the unsuspecting tongue, but with time it wears on you; makes you blush, makes you giggle, makes you feel ‘at home.’ The more time spent engulfed in the Perugian lifestyle, the more it grows on you and the flavor only heightens. Perugia tastes like a rich chocolate dessert. Familiar is the taste of chocolate. Perugia is decadent and smooth, and most importantly- comforting.

Perugia sounds like footsteps and Italian banter at 3 in the morning. Sounds that can be repetitive, at times annoying, but rhythmic in the city center. These sounds are interruptions that have become a pivotal part of my sleep schedule; or lack there of. Noises that would drive me insane in Boston, create a genuine smirk on my face in Perugia. Drunk college students singing and Italian couples yelling directly below my window are sounds that are a part of my new Italian life. Sounds like these would only aggravate me in my old city.

My new city sounds like the accordion. It is a sound that mimics the theme song from ‘The Godfather’. A sound that conveniently and dramatically interrupts one of my classes each day. A sound that is now as normal as hearing the church bells ring upon the hour.

Though it is foreign… though I am the foreigner… Perugia feels familiar. Perugia feels connected. Perugia feels like a city that can love me the way I already love it. Perugia feels as intimate as when you share your first raw secret with a new friend. I am greeted here by strangers with kisses on each cheek and they remember my name the following day; they’ll pass me on the street and give that familiar smile or wave. Familiar is not a word I would use to describe my American city. Perugia is starting to grasp my heart in a way that it not only feels like my city, but like my home.

Perugia reminds me of my childhood. Lacking technology, I have to meet my peers. Hand shakes, remembering names and house numbers. I ring doorbells. I shout up towards open windows to visit friends. There isn’t a sense of judgement upon an initial meeting. There isn’t a feeling of being stereotyped and placed into a group before you take the time to show who you are. People in Perugia are genuinely pleased to meet you as stranger, and to soon become familiar.


About Kia Dunn

Kiaalso known as “Kia Papaya” is a first semester junior at Suffolk University in Boston. Coming to Umbra Institute for her fall 2013 semester- she wanted to further her journalism career by contributing to the Little Blue. Witty and relevant stories are her forte in writing; and she aspires to be a modern day Carrie Bradshaw. She is interested in learning more about Perugia’s community through the website-and getting the locals, and her classmates more engaged and aware of the city’s perks.

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