Hello!Welcome to the third appointment of our trip in Umbria! Today I’ll show you our one-day itinerary of the town: we were settled in Perugia, so we had only one day to visit Assisi, but finally we were able to visit it nicely also in few time. I think this will be useful for anyone nearby.
Assisi is a small medieval town perched on a hill in Umbria. Famous as the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi holds religious, historical, and artistic significance. Periodical exhibits and fairs enrich the visitor’s experience.
Historical Assisi is very small and easily explored on foot. 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, and have a beautiful view of the countryside all around.
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. 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. This is one of the most spiritually powerful places in Assisi.
However, the center of the town is Piazza del Comune. There is a small fountain known as the “Lions fountain”. There are two main attractions on the Piazza: the “Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo” – with the clock tower – and the beautiful church of “Santa Maria Sopra Minerva” (St. Mary over Minerva), with its impresive roman columns. Assisi, being an old roman town, had its own temple dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. With the arrival of Christianity the temple was transformed into a Catholic Church and the Virgin Mary was promoted above pagan wisdom. The church was completely remodeled in the early 1990’s and stands in stark contrast to the exterior.
From the “Lions Fountain” find the street called “Corso Mazzini”. Here you will find many interesting shops of all sorts. At the end of the street there is an archway and after that you will see the lovely St. Claire’s Basilica, where the original crucifix, that spoke to Saint Francis, is found. There is a lovely piazza in front of the Church, with wonderful views of the valley.
From Piazza del Comune you have two options to reach Saint Francis’ Basilica: the street to your right is “Via San Paolo”, and it will eventually lead you to the Basilica. This is a slightly longer way to get there and not so crowded, sometimes there is no one around, even on busy days. If you turn to your left when you see some steps and a fresco on the wall, you’ll get to the small church of St. Stephen (Santo Stefano). This is a real jewel, not known to many and skipped by the majority of “running pilgrims”.
The second way is the street to your left from Piazza del Comune: it’s called “Via Portica”. This is the usual and shorter way to go to the Basilica of Saint Francis. There are plenty of shops. After a short while you pass an archway and arrive to “Via San Francesco”. A little walk and at the end of the street you will find the Basilica of St. Francis.
In my opinion, the town is really charming, but there is an aspect that I didn’t like too much: you can clearly feel, while visiting, that faith and religion are also a matter of business nowadays, so this diminish a bit the atmosphere of sacred places. In any case, it worth a visit!