The Sacred Destination of Assisi, Italy
How to get an unforgettable view of Assisi?
While the pilgrimage destinations in Assisi are well worth visiting, my favorite part of this hill top town was climbing up to the medieval castle of Rocca Maggiore; this ancient castle dates back to 1174. The castle offers a nice way to avoid the buzzing crowded areas near the Basilica. If you are willing to spend a few Euros and take the hike, the most remarkable views of the entire town await you as you will look out over the vast green landscape. The fort sits atop a hill above the elevated town of Assisi, at the top of the fort one can see for miles.
To get to the castle’s tower, you must walk down a long, narrow tunnel. (I do not suggest this for those of you who may be leery of tight spaces.) At the end of the long tunnel you climb a set of stairs as well as a ladder. As you reach the top of the ladder you are exposed the the refreshing glare of sunlight, followed by an unforgettable view. Be sure to bring your camera, you will want capture this this beautiful sight to keep for a lifetime.
After paying a small fee, you then take it upon yourself to explore the many tunnels, rooms, and views of the castle. Twelfth century clothing and armor can be found on display in specific rooms for guests to view.
In addition, the beautiful square, Piazza Santa Cliara, located directly in front of the the entrance of Santa Chiara Basilica offers an outstanding view of the valley as well. This area is easily assessable and would be perfect for those unable to meet physical demands of visiting the castle perched on a hill top.
What to know about Assisi
Located approximately 90 miles north of Rome rests Assisi, situated high on the slopes of Mount Subasio. Here the well-preserved medieval town looks out upon the rolling hills of the Umbria region of central Italy. With winding medieval streets, Roman ruins, and sacred shrines, the destination is very popular. However, it is known primarily as the birthplace of St. Francis. Assisi is a well-known destination among Catholic pilgrims who visit the church’s and relics of Saint Rufino, Saint Francis, and Saint Clare.
St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order and patron saint of animals and the environment was born to Assisi in 1182, has brought much fame and popularity to the small town. Assisi’s main attraction is the 13th-century Basilica di San Francesco, which contains the relics of Francis. It has been said that birds can always be seen flying over the basilica. Only two short years after the death of St. Francis, on Oct. 3, 1226, at the age of 44, Pope Gregory IX recognized him as a saint, and the construction of the basilica began.
• Basilica di Santa Chiara, The Basilica of St. Clare
This 13th-century church holds the remains of St. Clare, the founder of the Order of the Poor Clares and dearest friend of St. Francis. St. Clare has been removed from her original resting ground and transported to this location after being coated with wax to further preserve her body. Her body is now on display for any visitors of the basilica.
• Duomo di San Rufino, Assisi’s Cathedral
Built in the 12th-century, the Cathedral was constructed over what is left of Roman ruins, which can be seen through the glass in sections of the churches floor. This is the cathedral in which both St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.
• Basilica di San Francesco, Basilica of St. Francis
Built between 1228 and 1253 AD, the church is a place for both Catholic pilgrims and art lovers alike. In the lower portion of the grand basilica holds serves as a crypt for St. Francis along with some of his followers. In addition, remarkable frescos by Giotto can be found within the church. Those interested in art may be able to recognize one of the greatest pieces of the early Renaissance Fresco painting.
• Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
This 16th-century basilica is the seventh largest church in the world. Enclosed in the magnificent church is the Porziuncola, the small, Romanesque chapel the young St. Francis helped to rebuild after his calling. This also serves as the site in which St. Francis died. Within the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, relics of St. Francis can be seen, one of which includes his Friar belt, on display for the public.
Additional Places of Interest
If you are not willing to take the extensive hike up the path to the old fortress, the town of Assisi offers a number of other noteworthy attractions; Remarkable museums, art galleries, and a wide range of shopping venues can be found within the town. Consider visiting the Pinacoteca Comunale art gallery which features works by Giotto Madonna and Duomo Museum. The diva shopper of the crowd should take a stroll down the attractive medieval street of Corso Mazzini that connects Pizza Santa Cliara to Piazza del Comune. A number of shops line the street offering local souvenirs, spectacular art work, leather products, and fabulous clothing boutiques.