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Panoramic View of Assisi


Cities and Towns in Umbria

Assisi sits on the western slopes of Mount Subasio and offers sublime views over the valley below.  It is a city of about 5,500 full time citizens with another 25,000 in the hills and valley below.  The city draws millions of tourists each year and is considered to be one of the most important religious sites after Vatican City in Italy and pilgrims, mostly monks from the San Franciscan tradition come every year to visit St. Francesco's tomb which is located in the cathedral here.

Very few visitors who come however ever venture into the town of Assisi itself, which is incredibly intriguing, charming, and very beautiful.

When visiting Assisi you may want to start your visit in the valley below with a visit to the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli, an imposing structure in a setting that affords one to step back and glimpse the entire front of the edifice.  Inside, there are remarkable frescoes, paintings, and sculptures.  Inside, you will also find a small church, called the Porziuncola, where St. Francis and his followers are said to have founded the Frati Minori (Minor Friars) way back in 1209.

Then make your way to Assisi, by foot (about 2km), car or bus.  You might want to orient yourself by starting (or ending) your visit at the Basilica San Francesco, wherein you will find the tomb of Saint Francis (and various other notables), and numerous objects of art, some of which are quite stunning.  Cimabue and Giotto, among others, painted here.

Afterwards, make your way uphill into the city itself along the medieval Via San Francesco (of course).  You will encounter numerous restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and shops, some of them with very artistic - and inviting - window displays.  Eventually, you will come to a small piazza with a water fountain, where you will be confronted with the choice of following one of several streets.  Better have one of the impeccably wonderful gelatos while pondering your choices.

Generally speaking, we advise you to head uphill...probably along Via Brizi until you come to the Piazza del Commune, where you can catch your breath while marveling at the "works of man" made manifest in every cobblestone and building.

From there, keep moving uphill (yes, more uphill) along the Via San Rufino until you come to the Duomo.  It is very cool inside - in all meanings of the word.

The next part of your journey will take you to Piazza Matteoti and then on to the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre.  You can sit down and rest your weary bones for awhile and then head east or west to take a look at a couple of ancient forts.  The most impressive is the Rocca Maggiore to the west, although the Rocca Minore is worth seeing too.

Once you have achieved the summit of Assisi, and have quite exhausted yourself physically and emotionally, it will be time to head back to the Basilica of San Francesco.  Do yourself a favor - do not reverse your steps.  You really can't get lost, so just head down in the general direction, taking the unheralded streets and alleys of the city.  It is the best way to transform yourself from tourist into traveler.






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