By Courtney Singer
Assisi
Italy
Photo gallery
Assisi, Italy is set in the rolling hills of Umbria, in the province of Perugia. The quaint township is literally built into the hillsides, providing the visitor with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. In fact, the town is so unique that in a rather unusual move, UNESCO proclaimed all the major monuments and “urban fabric” of Assisi a World Heritage Site. EscapeWizard.com invites you to experience first-hand the mystique of this captivating village.

Over the passage of history, Assisi has been inhabited by most of Italy’s major founding parties.  Originally settled by the Umbrians, it was later inhabited by the Etruscans, Romans, Lombards, Ghibellines, and numerous Italian dictators before national unification. Roman ruins are scattered around the city; arguably the best preserved is the Temple of Minerva. Originally a Roman temple, it was changed to the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva after the city converted to Christianity around the 3rd century.

Another infamous monument to Assisi’s occasionally tumultuous past is the Rocca Maggiore.  The imposing fort was first built in 1174 for a feudal German lord; the people of Assisi tore it down around by the late 12th century. The fort lay in ruins for a couple hundred years, until the Cardinal Albornoz rebuilt the western section in 1367. This began a period of intermitant construction until the castle was abandoned in the late 16th century.

Assisi’s main claim to fame is as the birthplace of St. Francis, saint and founder of the Franciscan brotherhood and it’s sister organization, the Order of Poor Clares. One of the two patron saints of Italy, St. Francis is very dear to most Italian hearts. Francis was born in Assisi in around 1181.  His youth passed in an ordinary way for a privileged child of a wealthy merchant, but that all changed after he received his first vision. Returning to Assisi, he cast off all his worldly possessions and began crossing the country, extolling the virtues of poverty and connection with nature. After a lifetime of service to his religion, Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was declared a saint by Pope Gregory IX in the summer of 1228.

Accordingly, make sure not to miss the Basilica of San Francesco. Building on the site began directly after the canonization of Francis, and was completed in the mid-13th century. The lower church is decorated with frescos painted by celebrated artists, such as Cimabue and Giotto. The most famous of the frescos depicts the life of Saint Francis. Directly attached to the back of the basilica is a monastery, still housing monks from the Franciscan order.   

Festival Calendimaggio is the major cultural event of the year in Assisi. Occurring between first and fifth of May, the Festival re-enacts medieval and Renaissance life. The “upper” and “lower” factions of the town compete for most the most impressive presentation. 

For those flying into the area, the closest major international airport is the Fiumincio Airport (FCO) in Rome. You can purchase your tickets through EscapeWizard.com; to do so, please use the following link (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php). When booking a hotel, simply click on this link (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl) to book your hotel experience in Assisi. 

What Assisi lacks in size, it makes up for in stature. One of the countless charming Italian towns, Assisi could have been lost in the shuffle had it not been for its uncanny ability to produce extraordinary citizens. Whether or not your pilgrimage is of the religious or secular variety, a visit is most definitely recommended. Let EscapeWizard.com help you plan your next vacation to Assisi, just click the link above for further information.