Astonishing Assisi, although we were only able to spend an afternoon is the small medieval town we are determined to return one day and stay for at least a few nights in this enchanting place. We’ve said it more than once but this town is at the very top of our favorites in Italy, it gripped our attention with so much character and ambiance. Perched on a hill in the region of Umbria it is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi and holds much religious as well as historical and artistic significance.
We arrived by bus as part of the excursions that were included at our Italian language school and filed out to wonder this historical town for the afternoon. Climbing the cobblestoned streets lead us to the footsteps of the Basilica of St. Francis where we had to first cue up for a security check punctuating the importance of this site. The church is stunning, like no other we saw throughout Italy and is adorned with the most fabulous frescoes of the Giotto school. After gazing in amazement at the upper Cathedral we ventured down into the lower sanctuary that houses the tomb of St. Francis. The Cathedral is expansive with many sections, nooks and crannies to explore as well as a gift shop in the upper courtyard.
After leaving the Basilica we continued climbing up through the narrow cobblestoned streets where we emerged into the Piazza del Comune. Immediately our attention was drawn to the beautiful church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with its impressive roman columns, it is a temple dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Minerva. It dates pre-Christianity with some parts remaining from the time of Augustus in 63 BC-AD 14, it went through many changes in usage (even as a prison for a time) and was later converted to a Catholic Church and completely refurbished in 1990. We sat in the church for a while, contemplating its history and then returned to the piazza walking past the lions fountain and clock tower to the Corso Mazzini to sort through its many interesting shops, bakeries and cafes. Here is a link to the picture gallery.
Here is a quick video on Assisi, enjoy the sites!