Perugia, a popular university city and well-known hub for culture, art and chocolate, will compete with Cascais in Portugal, Galway in Ireland, Varna in Bulgaria and the UK’s Newcastle for the accolade.
The cities fended off competition from another Italian city, Vicenza, as well as Alcobendas in Spain, Kaunas in Lithuania and the UK's York to make it into the second round.
Peter Matjašič, the president of the European Youth Forum, the Brussels-based organizer of the competition, said in a statement that the “prestigious title is a fantastic way to showcase good practice examples of youth policy making and youth participation at local level and think of new, innovative ideas and projects designed by and for young people to truly engage them in the life of their city.”
He added that the contest is also “a unique way to strengthen the bonds between the candidate cities and Europe”.
The winning city will be announced in November.
Perugia is also in the final stage of a contest to become European Culture Capital 2019, along with five other Italian cities: Cagliari, Lecce, Matera, Ravenna and Siena.
Though the city is still popular among students, with its University for Foreigners drawing an estimated 8,000 international students a year, the city’s reputation has suffered from the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007.
The city’s mayor told The Local last September, ahead of the retrial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder, that Kercher’s death remains “an open wound” in the heart of Perugians and “should not be forgotten”.
Earlier this month, a survey found that the trials of Knox, who was reconvicted of the crime in late January, still deters American students from studying in Italy.
Knox was sentenced to 28 years and six months while Sollecito was handed a 25-year jail term. The pair is waiting for the explanation behind the January verdict before being able to appeal to Italy’s Supreme Court.