When you look up from the valley floor to the hill town of Assisi, perched on Mt Subasio, the first impressions are lasting and impressive. The towering walls at the north end of town, the Rocca Maggiore, The spires of the basilicas all stand above the valley harkening back to the thirteenth century. Assisi is one of the Best Places in Italy to Visit.
Assisi is one of the most beautiful of the hill towns in Umbria, and sacred ground for tens to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Famous for figures like St Francis and St Clare as well as painters and poets Assisi has a history going way back into antiquity. Settled in the iron age and influenced by the Etruscans Assisi became a Roman Municipium in 69 A.D., was conquered by the Goths (c. 545A.D.) and finally falling under the influence of the Lombard Dukes of Spoleto. Assisi formed an independent (Ghibelline) commune early in the 12th century and fought with Perugia as well as the Hohenstaufen Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa. At the end of the 12th century St Francis was born (c.1198 A.D.) and from the 13th century Assisi fell under Papal protection. Much of the look and feel of Assisi comes from this period of Church rule and you can easily visualize life here in the high medieval and renaissance periods.
Today, Assisi maintains its vast boundary walls, the powerful castles of Rocca Maggiore and Minore, as well as the beautiful Basilica Di San Francesco, the final resting place of the founder of the Franciscan order. The streets and shops are among the finest representations of Umbrae’s medieval hill towns and the feeling here, among its 25,000 inhabitants is contemplative.
Assisi is a must see for anybody visiting Umbria. It is a great day trip or home base with many wonderful sites to see in the town itself as well as many great sites to see in the surrounding area. Hotels have been updated with the most modern comforts and there are many shops selling traditional crafts from Assisi and Umbria.
As you approach Assisi you will be struck by the vast and powerful Basilica Di San Francesco, an apparent manmade cliff dominates one end of the town. Assisi rests on the western slopes of Mt Subasio covered with medieval structures and topped off by the very imposing Rocca Maggiore. There is parking available in lots located around the towns curtain wall with lifts and stairs to access the town above.
Once inside there are several sites of interest such as the Roman Temple of Minerva, now a church, and the Piazza del Commune with the towers of the medieval city hall. You can visit the home where St. Francis was born and wander through the Cattedrale di San Rufino and Chiesa Nuova. There is also a large well at the other end of town has a double helix staircase to allow one way traffic both down to and up from the well.
Assisi is more than a beautiful and fascinating slice of history, it is warm and full of quaint shops and intimate caf?s where you can wander and relax, enjoying the best of Umbria.