Assisi is one beautiful small town in central Umbria about 20 minutes east of Perugia.
The town is known for the magnificent medieval architecture and for,of course his patron saint, Saint Francis of Assisi.
First stop before you arrive at Assisi, is the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli, located on the plain below Assisi, where you must to Visit the basilica (baroque from 1684), built to shelter the Porziuncola (the oratory that Saint Francis used and where is die).
This was an first center for the Saint Francis and Franciscans.
After a visit to the Basilica, you can climb in Assisi and move in one amazing medieval adventure. Here is Our guide to a one day visit of this wonderful place. Assisi is definitely an experience for the eye and the soul. The castle looming over the city is the Rocca Maggiore, an fortress rebuilt in the 14th century which over an dating back to the time of Charlemagne. Your visit to the town must also include the Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of Saint Clare) devoted to Francis’ first “sister”, the Romanesque San Pietro (Saint Peter), Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen), and Assisi’s town cathedral, San Rufino.
Our suggestion for your itinerary:
From the Porta Nuova parking lot ride the escalator up to the city gate (or with your driver), where your tour start with Basilica di Santa Chiara. Via Borgo Aretino and Piazza Santa Chiara offer beautiful views over olive groves and the Umbra Valley. Even though there are tourists, this square is always full by local life, mothers with their children, pensioners sit on the stone benches to enjoy the sun.
The Basilica di Santa Chiara, built with intensely pink stones, dominate the square with the geometric simplicity of its facade. When you walk from Basilica di Santa Chiara to Piazza del Comune ( Corso Mazzini), you can to enjoy the medieval palaces and the beautifully preserved Temple of Minerva.
Below the piazza is the excavated Roman Forum, which can be visited from Via Portica. Continue towards the Saint Francis Basilica by Via San Paolo (at every corner you have the signs to the Basilica), to the right you have the Tourist Office,where you can ask for maps and all the necessary information. Pay attention to the beautiful church of San Stefano, which is located halfway to the Basilica of St. Francis, simple, quiet and always filled with people.
Now, you are finally arriving at the Basilica di San Francesco . From the height of Via Cardinal Merry del Val, the sight of the Piazza Superiore is surprising and amazing. You can see how Saint Francis stands alone and serene at the end of a green meadow. Saint Francis was born in 1182, and the construction of his basilica began two years after his death in 1228 (Porziuncola). Between the 13th and 14th century, the basilica’s walls were frescoed by the best known artists of that time: Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Giotto, Cimabue. The Basilica encompasses two churches built one above the other, dating from 1230 – 1253. The body of Saint Francis was buried secretly in an underground crypt while the basilica was under construction and over the next half a century, the exact location was forgotten. The tomb was opened to the public in 1818. For a tour of both the two churches and tombs of St. Francis you need a couple of hours (it’s best to hire a guide to hear firsthand about Saint Francis).
Your tour may continue in the Piazza del Comune, take the Via di San Rufino, you can to walk to the lovely San Rufino cathedral. If you have more energy, continue to the Rocca Maggiore. It’s one medieval fortress, made from red stone of Assisi, was built 1173 and finished 1458. All the towers and a long walkway have been recently restored.
The views from the tower are stunning, particularly at sunset. Returning to the parking lot or your driver, you can continue upwards and visit Eremo delle Carceri (4 km/2.5 mi). The road exits the city walls at Porta Cappuccini and climbs to Mount Subasio.
The Eremo delle Carceri, was an early retreat of Saint Francis and his friars to this monastery (the name derives from the fact that the friars “imprisoned” themselves here, away from worldly temptations)in order to pray.
Surrounded by woods, the Hermitage is an oasis of peace where one can savor the true Franciscan atmosphere.