Assisi

Saint Francis' Basilica, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site
Rocca Maggiore
Piazza del Comune: Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Assisi is a small medieval town of about 25,000 people perched on a hill in Umbria, the heart of Italy. Famous as the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi holds religious, historical, and artistic significance. Periodical exhibits and fairs enrich the visitor's experience.

Get in

By car

Take the A1 freeway and exit at the SS75. Follow the signs to historical Assisi and park in one of the public lots just outside the city walls.

By train

You'll have to take a local connection at Terontola (coming from Florence) or Foligno (coming from Rome) to Assisi/Santa Maria degli Angeli. The station is at the bottom of the hill, about three miles from the center of town. Bus line "C" (ASSISI - P.ZZA MATTEOTTI-FS-P.ZZA GARIBALDI) will take you the rest of the way.

Get around

Historical Assisi is very small and easily explored on foot. But go slowly, or the hilly streets will put you out of breath before you know it. During the hotter summer months take an occasional rest in one of the cool churches or enjoy an icecream break (or two). It is advisable to begin your tour at the top of the town (which is the oldest part), so you can enjoy the city going down the hill.

See

Definitely take the time to walk among Assisi's medieval houses and shops. Most of the cobblestone streets and alleys will take you to the basilica of St. Francis. Please be quiet as you visit this multi-level structure as it still is a place of prayer for many. It's a good idea to rent the audio guide to appreciate the artistic and historical significance of this unique church. The walls and ceilings of the upper church are embellished with frescoes of the Giotto school; the lower sanctuary contains the tomb of St. Francis .

There are many things to see and experience in Assisi and sadly many times the usual visitor stays just for a couple of hours or for the morning. If you are only capable of a short visit these are the things you must see:

Assisi offers many other things to see and do. If you have more time, these are some hints:

Do

The basilica of St. Francis, completed in 1253, is only one of many beautiful churches in Assisi. The cathedral of San Rufino, the basilica of Santa Chiara, and the Chiesa Nuova are also worth a visit. Take the time to hike up to the top of the hill above Assisi and explore the castle - "La Rocca" - where Frederick Barbarossa spent his childhood. From here you can overlook the town and the valley below. Visit the tiny church of St. Stefano, go up a few stairs, and look back downwards for the most picturesque spot of this beautiful little town. The little church of San Damiano is located outside the walls of the city, halfway down the hill. According to the saint's biographers, it was here that St. Francis received his message "to rebuild the church."

Buy

The many shops display a variety of local arts and crafts, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and reproductions of medieval weapons and tools. Embroidery and chocolate manufacturing are also typical of the area. Religious items are best purchased at the gift shop behind the lower level of St. Francis basilica. Don't let the shop keepers "over - price" you...!

Eat

In Assisi:

In Santa Maria degli Angeli:

directions=in a small back street near the Farmacia Comunale

In town you find several little ice cream and pizza shops, you need to look around for quality.

Nearby:

Wine tasting

Sleep

Go next

Santa Maria degli Angeli at the bottom of the hill - where the train station is. Visit the Basilica containing the Porziuncola, the tiny stone home of St. Francis and his followers, where the Saint died.

Walk (or take a taxi or drive) the 4 km to Eremo delle Carceri, an hermitage in a steep mountaing gorge east of Assisi, where St Francis came to pray and contemplate in the 13th century.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, December 23, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.