Perugia is easy to get to by car from both Rome (176 km) and Florence (158 km). From the northern part of Italy, Milan, Bologna or Florence, you take the Autostrada del Sole and exit at the Val di Chiana toll gate. Then after passing alomg the shores of Lake Trasimeno, you quickly arrive in Perugia.
Coming from Rome, you exit at Orte. By car from the northeast, Brenner Pass or Venice towards Padova and Ravenna, you take route E45 all the way to Perugia.
The very historic core of the town isn't car friendly.
Travelling by train on the Milan-Florence-Rome line, you change at Terontola or Chiusi.
The airport of Sant'Egidio is about 16 km far from the city center. There are daily flights to Northern Italy with connecting flights to other European cities.
Discovered that the MiniMetro is the best way to get into centro during the day, but it does close about 9 PM and I learned the hard way that in the morning it doesn't open until 7AM. Luckily the bus arrived at the nearby bus stop at 6.03AM to take me to Perugia rail station for my train to Rome.
The city fathers in the metro area in which I reside should see Perugia's Mini Metro. It is a city project well done.
Those who arrive at the train station will find a metro station just outside the front door. The Mini Metro is the fast and easy way to go up the hill to Perugia's old city center. These small (about 20-25 passengers) rail coaches depart every two minutes. The automated system provides a quiet, smooth ride that is environmentally friendly.
At the time of our visit to Perugia (Oct 2010), the fare to ride the Mini Metro was 1.5 Euro.
Take the Minimetro from the train station (Fotivegge, 100 m north of the station, walk on Binario 1 (plattform 1) until a dark red bridge) to the city center (Pincetto near Piazza IV Novembre), get the ticket from a vending machine at the entrance, € 1,50 valid also on city buses for 70 minutes.
Most buses stop at Piazza Italia which is the city centre and from where you can find most anything. You do have to buy biglietti at a Tabacchi. We only bought two the whole time we were there, one to get us to our hotel and one to get us back to the train station. If you are taking the bus from the Piazza to the train station, plan ahead of time as it takes the loooong way around! It took about an hour on a very crowded Saturday.
I have now been to Italy several times and each time have travelled around this fabulous country by train.
Once you get the hang of it, train travel in Italy is easy. It is also a great way to see the beautiful countryside on the way to your next destination.
I have travelled a couple of times using a rail pass, but the last couple of visits have just purchased tickets for each individual trip as we went.
That said, we often have purchased tickets a day or two in advance - particularly if the particular train requires a seat reservation, or if it is a busy time of year.
Purchasing a little in advance also means that you don't miss the train you want to catch due to a huuuuuge queue for tickets...
Last trip we used the automatic ticket machines at the stations and found them excellent.
Also, I have travelled both first and second class, and didn't really find much difference - travel second class and you can use the extra money to buy more wine/food etc
Just remember with all tickets that you need to validate them in the small yellow ticket machines before you board your train.
We discovered upon disembarking from the train that taxis and a bus stop are right outside with a large map telling you the bus routes. Very convenient.