Italy this summer can be summed up in one word: Jubilee. Pope John Paul II has proclaimed 2000 a year of special celebration, and the expectation is that the country will be overrun with tourists there to do just that. Assisi, the birthplace of the mystic St. Francis and today one of Roman Catholicism’s most popular pilgrimage sites, has cleaned up the debris from the earthquake of 1997 and is bracing itself for the onslaught.

Have no fear, though, because relief from Jubilee-mania is close at hand. Twenty miles from Assisi is the Umbrian capital of Perugia. A big university town, Perugia is known these days for more secular pleasures, such as the eponymous Perugina chocolates and July’s Umbria jazz festival. Not that the Perugians didn’t have a pious (and violent) past. Flagellants used to stage blood-splattering parades downtown to prove their devotion.

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