Without neglecting the many other lovely spots in the city of Perugia, I would like to tell you about one in particular. Hidden behind the San Pietro Church there´s - very well kept by the Agricultural College of the University of Perugia – the Orto Medievale (medieval garden).
Typical for those times, the design of the garden is based upon a lot of symbols. I am not going to reveal all of them, but you can ask for a map 1, available in several languages, that explains them so you can completely understand them and make sure you won´t miss anything.
The first, oval shaped part of the garden represents Paradise. In the oval are three circles, each with a tree. The first tree is the Albero della Vita (tree of life), in the middle, on a `mountain` stands the Albero della Luce e della Scienza (tree of light and knowledge).
Four little wells spring forth from the mountain, called water, wine, milk and honey.
The last circle contains the Albero della Conoscenza del Bene e del Male (tree of knowledge of good and bad). You won´t be suprised that this last tree is a fig.
The centre of this Paradise is divided in twelve equal parts symbolizing the Zodiac. Each part contains the herbal plant that belongs to its zodiac sign.
Outside of Eden, you reach the Dark Forest that represents the Bad, the Sin. Yet, it´s is also the Holy Forest, with a.o. The Tree of Perfection, Tree of Spirit and the Tree of The Cross.
In the tower next to the Dark Forest you can see a reconstruction of an alchemist´s laboratory, before entering the second zone of the holy forest where the Tree of Justice, the Tree of Youth and many many others reign.
Leaving the forest you step into the Garden of Health that hosts many medical herbs, followed by the Holistic garden with its aromatic herbs. There, seven little round basins symbolize the influence of the stars. Below the so called Podium, a small cave contains purifying water running from two little falls.
Descending again you will reach the Theatrum that is built on the remains of an ancient fountain and a patio which is covered by vines and roses.
Passing an ancient sarcophagus you will return to the entrance. I would not be surprised if the only thing on your mind, like it was on mine, will be `I want to walk back in again.`
1 The explanation is based upon `Il Giardino dello Spirito` (Alessandro Menghini)