Darla Logsdon

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ASSISI, ITALY

Assisi is a well-preserved medieval town that is, after the Vatican, Italy's second most-popular religious-pilgrimage destination. It is a hill town in central Italy’s Umbria region, 110 miles north of Rome. Assisi was the birthplace and home of St. Francis (the founder of the Franciscan order of friars), and the churches and crypt that bear his name draw a steady stream of pilgrims and sightseers every year.  The Basilica of St. Francis is a massive, 2-level church, blessed in 1253.  Its 13th-century frescoes portraying the life of St. Francis have been attributed to painters Giotto and Cimabue, among others.  St. Francis is remembered by many, even non-Christians, as a lover of nature (his preaching to an audience of birds is one of the legends of his life).

OTHER LANDMARKS

 

The town is dominated by two medieval castles.  On the slopes above town, the 14th-century medieval fortress La Rocca Maggiore has panoramic views of the valley below.   The smaller of the two was built in the Roman Era.  It has been only partially reserved, a small portion and three towers are open to the public.

Other sights include:
 

  • The Roman amphitheater, built in the early 1st century AD. Its elliptical plan is identifiable from the medieval houses built around it. The arena now houses a garden.

  • The Piazza del Commune ("Communal Square")

  • The abbey of St. Benedict, founded in the 10th century 

EVENTS

You may want to visit Assisi during one of the town's numerous celebrations: the Feast of alendi maggio, a five-day coming-of-spring festival with medieval costumes, dances and songs (on the first Thursday following May 1); a month of folklore and musical events in August; or the Feast of St. Francis (October), which celebrates the saint's transition from this life into the next. During this two-day festival, the entire town is illuminated by oil lamps. Around the same time, the first week of October, Europe's largest peace march takes place, with 150,000 pilgrims marching the 15-mile route between Perugia and Assisi.

If you are going to Assisi at one of these times, reserve accommodations well ahead of time—the city will be filled with pilgrims.  

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Although the town was rocked by an earthquake in 1997, much of the damage has been repaired. One of the most severely damaged buildings, however, was the treasured Basilica of St. Francis. The upper basilica has reopened, and many of the beloved frescoes can be admired again. The lower basilica and St. Francis' tomb are also open to the public.

Many buildings in Assisi’s sloping medieval streets are built with the pink-tinged local stone.

 

The remains of the Roman Temple of Minerva stand in the town’s civic heart.

You can choose to visit the historical sites or just stroll the narrow, picturesque streets and listen to the musicians practicing nearby.

Assisi has had a rich tradition of art through the centuries and is now home to a number of well-known artistic works.

Assisi Embroidery is a form of counted-thread embroidery which has been practiced in Assisi since the 13th century.

 

FACTS

Total area of Assisi is approximately 72.1 square miles

Elevation is 1391 ft.

Population is close to 28,000

Currency - Euro

Travel 42

Copyright ©2017 Northstar Travel Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon

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