You need to come to Assisi to know for yourself what is the feeling of being in this city. As soon as you arrive in this city you are catched by a feeling of peace and serenity which will make you wish not to leave anymore.
Assisi is mainly known for being the city where Saint Francis and Saint Clare were born and where they lived and died.
At 424 meters on the level of the sea, surrounded by hills and mountains sceneries, the city is inhabited by a little bit more of twentyeight thousands people.
Assisi was founded by the Romans in 399 b.C.It is a medieval city of great simplicity but, at the same time, it is very rich with art and culture.
You arrive at Assisi by airplane at the airports of Pisa, Rome or Florence which are the closest airports. Then from the airport you can take a trein and arrive at the trein station of Assisi or you can drive a car through a very suggestive route.
This city is the destination of several Catholic pilgrimages because of Saint Francis and Saint Clare but it is also a pulsing center of cultural activities.
Every year in September there is the International Festival for Peace organized by the United Artists for Peace, an organization promoting a culture of peace, solidarity and human rights. The Festival develops around 21 September the International Day of Peace. During the festival there are lectures and round tables with the participation of national and international humanitarian organizations. At the same time art and photography exhibitions as well as concerts and theatre shows are organized in the city with the participation of important representatives from any art field .
At the end of August you can't miss the Saint Rufino Palio, an historical commemoration with parades, flag wavers and drummers.
Every two years since 1961, between the end of September and beginning of October there is the March for Peace, organized by Movimento Pacifista Italiano. Tousands of people walk during this day from Perugia to Assisi.
But even without these international events that attract thousands of visitors, the city of Assisi is a masterpiece which deserves a thorough visit to explore it and enjoy its beauty.
It is impossible to mention all the artistic and architectural monuments in this city but here are some examples of them.
Basilica of Saint Francis from Assisi is divided in Superior Basilica and Lower Basilica and it was included in the World Heritage by the Unesco. The building of this Basilica started few days after the death of Saint Francis in 1228. According to the tradition, the place was chosen by Saint Francis himself. It is in the lower hill of Assisi where the "lawlesses" used to be buried. The Basilica has an Italian Gothic style and its building was completed in 1253.
This is actually two churches built one above the other and from the beginning it was made to receive thousands of pilgrims. The lower church was decorated by artists of the caliber of Giotto, Cimabue and Simone Martini. The relics are in this part of the Basilica. The superior Basilica has a gabled fašade with a big rose window while inside it takes again the Italian Gothic style. It represents the greatest collection of medieval stained glass windows in Italy.
Saint Clare Basilica was built after the death of Clare between 1255 and 1265 around the ancient Church of Saint George which had kept the remains of Saint Francis up to 1230. The fašade of the church was made with white and rose stone and the external aspect is distinguished by the three big arches which hold the left side. Inside you will find the Chapel of the Cross where it is kept the San Damiano Cross which, according to tradition, had spoken to Saint Francis. Also inside the church you will find a table by Cimabue describing the life of Saint Clare, in addition to numerous frescos of the XIII and XIV century.
San Rufino Cathdral is the duomo of Assisi. According to the medieval historians the cathdral was built over a roman temple. The fašade of the cathedral is one of the most important of the Umbrian Romaesque style.
Inside you will find the font where Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows and maybe even Federick II were baptized. Under the altar there is the grave of Saint Rufino.
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli contains the Porziuncola, the chapel where Saint Francis used to pray, where he found his vocation and where he wrote the Canticle of Creatures. In one aisle of the basilica there is still the famous rose garden. A little curiosity: the full name of the city of Los Angeles is "El Pueblo de la Iglesia de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles sobre la Porciuncola de Asis" in other words "The People of the Church of Our Lady the Queen of Angels over Porziuncola of Assisi". The city was a human settlemend founded by Franciscans.
Piazza del Comune (place of the city hall) which includes the Temple to Minerva. This temple was built in the I century b.C. and was then transformed in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. What is left of the roman period is the fašade with six slender Corinthian columns. Beside the temple is the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo from the XIII century and the Torre del Popolo, the civic tower from 1308. In the middle of the place there is a sixiteen century fountain.
Rocca Maggiore is placed on the top of the hill and was built during the Middle Age. It was destroyed and rebuilt in 1356 respecting its original form. It seems that Frederick I Barbarossa and Frederick I when he was a child had lived here.
Around Assisi you will find also a beautiful farm cultivating lavender, the only one in Italy with a collection of over 30 species of various colors (blue, pink, white, violet). It is at Castelnuovo and it is possible to visit it.
We can't forget to mention the delicious gastronomy of Assisi. Here you can taste the home made pasta such as the umbricelli and the stringozzi with a sauce made with goose, chicken giblets or truffle.
Local meats are also delicious and mainly rosted or grilled such as the rosted pork, rosted goose, filled duck, lamb cacciatore or the pijeon.
Here you can also taste the Cannara Onion, red outside and with white pulp inside.
Amongst the wines you can taste the White and Red of Assisi.
Whether you come to Assisi for a religious pilgrimage, for the love for art and architecture, to taste good food and wine or to enjoy a peaceful holiday in a heaven scenery, Assisi will leave speachless and with very sweet memories.