We’ve been traveling quite a bit lately and we have seen many stunning places around the world. Then we had a chance to spend one day in Assisi, and we immediately fell in love with it. Italy is full of beautiful cities and towns, scattered around the country from north to south. But not many places have the atmosphere of this tiny town in Umbria, well known in the world for being the birthplace of St. Francis. You can feel “history” behind every corner, walk among the white brick houses, and get lost in the small alleys. You’ll find yourself shouting “WOW!” many times 🙂
We suggest you to combine your visit to Assisi with Perugia and Norcia. These are great destinations too, and they’re quite close. Check this post and discover what to do in Perugia!But first, we ask for a second of your time: click here and like our Facebook page! Thank you!
Assisi and its history
Many centuries ago, around 1000 BC, a group of people settled down in the area where Assisi is now. They were the “Umbrians”, and they used to live in small fortified settlements on hills and mountains. From 450 BC, these ancient “towns” were gradually conquered first by the Etruscans, and then by the Romans. They took control of Central Italy, and they built the municipium Asisium on a series of terraces on Mount Subasio. Nowadays, Roman remains can still be seen in Assisi: city walls, the forum (now Piazza del Comune), and the Temple of Minerva are a pleasure for the visitor’s eyes.
During the 2nd century AD Assisi was converted to Christianity, an important step for the future of the city. In the 11th century, Assisi was a Ghibelline commune, and it was fighting against the Guelph Perugia, in a neverending war. By the 13th century the city, which had remained within the confines of the Roman walls, was way too populated and it began to expand its borders outside the walls.
In the beginning the city fell under the government of Perugia. Later it was taken over by different despots, such as the soldier of fortune Biordo Michelotti and Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Finally Assisi went into a deep decline because of the plague in 1348, that hit a good part of Italy very badly.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nowadays this beautiful town is the site of pilgrimage, since it’s linked in history and legend with St. Francis. The saint is the founder of the Franciscan order and, together with St. Catherine of Siena, is the patron saint of Italy. He is venerated by many people, that’s why Assisi is always crowded with tourists and visitors 🙂
In the year 2000, Assisi was finally named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been described as “a unique example of continuous history: a city-sanctuary beginning with its Umbrian-Roman origins, through the Medieval Age and up until today”. We can guarantee that, even if you aren’t a history nerd, you’ll get to fall in love with the town, just by walking around.
Of course the Basilica of St. Francis has been included in the list of UNESCO sites, and defined as an “extraordinary example of an architectonic complex that has heavily influenced the development of art and architecture”.
One day in Assisi: What to do in there?
Assisi is quite small, so don’t expect a list of 100 things to do in 24 hours. There are a few amazing spots, together with panoramic views and one of the most beautiful historical centers we’ve ever seen. If you like photography, you’ll probably want to stay more!
Basilica Of St. Francis
The Basilica is more than just a church. Even if you aren’t religious, you cannot ignore the importance and the beauty of this construction. The interiors are simply stunning, with ancient paintings decorating the walls. Underground is the tomb of the Saint, built at the beginning of 19th century, after 600 years from his death (in 1226). It’s possible to see it and to walk around it, but no photos are allowed.
It’s always assaulted by pilgrims and tourists, so be patient and be ready to walk slowly.
Rocca Maggiore, the fortress
This fortress dominates the hill just above Assisi, and it used to be the most viable fortification for its defense. We warmly suggest you to walk up there just before the sunset, in order to admire the town below at the right time. The walk takes about 20’/30′ and it can be a bit challenging during the warmest months, but it’s totally worth it.
Walk around & take photographs!
Our favorite thing to do in Assisi, without doubts. Every corner seems to be painted by an incredibly talented artist. Each street brings along an atmosphere that is difficult to find anywhere else. It’s not just a bunch of medieval alleys, but a maze of truly awesome places.
We suggest you to leave Google Maps behind and get lost, wandering around without a destination. Follow your senses and be ready to become best friends with Assisi!
Enjoy some of the photos we shoot in Assisi!
Have you already visited Assisi? Did we forget something? Leave a comment below and share the post with other fellow travelers 🙂