Assisi, Umbria, Italy. 360° Travel Guide  Map View

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Assisi North: Around Basilica di San Francesco

Basilica di San Francesco: Inferiore Basilica di San Francesco Upper Piazzetta Ruggero Bonghi Panoramic Via Fontebella
Basilica: Inferiore Basilica: Superiore Piazzetta Ruggero Bonghi Panoramic Via Fontebella

Despite the damage done by the earthquake in 1997 the city of Assisi has been wonderfully restored and although you should be ready for one or two short climbs you can easily explore the historic centre on foot. Most famous as the birthplace of the Franciscan Order (founded in 1208) and the Poor Clares (1212). Assisi is obviously a place of pilgrimage but its beautiful architecture attracts tourists of all denominations. Starting at the Basilica di San Francesco, a world heritage site, you find not one but in fact two basilica: the Inferiore (Lower) 1228-30 and Superiore (Upper) 1230-53. St Francis's body was laid here in the crypt below the Inferiore in 1230, four years after his death. Inside the Superiore you will find a 28 part 13th century fresco, painted by Cimabue's pupils including reputedly Giotto.

Leaving the Basilica from the lower area you can then walk down towards Piazzetta Ruggero Bonghi and then up towards the centre of Assisi along Via Fontebella and just enjoy its' beautiful architecture and views of the Umbrian countryside.

Around Assisi

Fonte Marcella Chiesa di San Pietro Santa Maria Maggiore Bishop's palace
Fonte Marcella Chiesa di San Pietro Santa Maria Maggiore Bishop's Palace

On Via Fontebella you can pause at the Fonte Marcella (1556) and head down to the Chiesa di San Pietro (consecrated 1254). Following Via Santa Appollonia you will reach the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore. Although the current building is 12th century this was Assisi's original cathedral, until it was transferred to the current Duomo (San Rufino)in 1036. Nearby, however, is the original Bishop's Palace where St Francis renounced his worldly wealth.

Piazza S Chiara Basilica di Santa Chiara St Rufino's Cathedral Santa Maria degli Angeli
Piazza Santa Chiara Basilica di Santa Chiara Duomo di San Rufino Santa Maria degli Angeli

The 13th century Basilica di Santa Chiara is the resting place of its namesake (St Clare) and home to the Byzantian crucifix that spoke to St Francis. From Piazza Santa Chiara you can enjoy views up to the historic centre of Assisi and across the Umbrian countryside. The 12th century Duomo di San Rufino was where both St Francis and St Clare were baptised. It was named after a 3rd century martyred bishop who bought Christianity to Assisi and was a site of various churches from the 5th century onwards. Its vault and bell tower in fact date from the 11th century Romanesque cathedral. Near the train station (3km out of the city) the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (1569-1684) was built to house the far more modest Porziuncola chapel given to St Francis by the Benedictines and the Cappella del Transito where he died on the 4th October 1226.