Assisi is a town in Umbria that’s forever associated with it’s most famous son, St Francis of Assisi who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208. The town is known for. it’s religious history and many churches (of course) but also for its spectacular medieval castle and older roman architecture.
What to see?
You can’t come to Assisi and not visit a couple of churches the Basilica di San Francesco is probably the most eye-catching, in addition it’s rich in both history and artistic treasures. It’s actually two churches, an upper and a lower church. The Basilica was begun in 1228, immediately after the canonization of St Francis, in honor of the local saint. The upper church or Basilica Superiore has a series of frecoes depicting the life of St Francis by Giotto. In the lower church there are also some very fine frescoes as well as the crypt containing the saint himself.
If you’re feeling up for another church you could head over to San Pietro which hosts an underground museum, complete with Roman remains, you can also trace out the remains of the Roman amphitheater in the town near the main piazza.
The other must see when you visit Assisi is the fortress of Rocca Maggiore. It’s even more ancient than the Basilica di San Francesco, the first mention of it was way back in 1173. The main attraction in visiting here is the spectacular view.
Where to eat?
Assisi is something of a tourist hub so eating out can be a bit hit and miss, however that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great places to eat.
Trattoria Pallotta - located in the heart of Assisi this is a great family restaurant serving home made Umbrian classics.
If you’re looking for a snack and a drink try Vinò on the Piazza del Commune. Also just off the main square is Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba, which puts a modern spin on Italian classics
The most important festival in Assisi is, of course, the Feast of San Francesco of Assisi on the 4th of October. Which is celebrated with both civic and religious ceremonies. Another not to be missed event is Calendimaggio in May. It’s a sort of medieval festival to celebrate the arrival of spring. The festival works around a rivalry between the upper and lower parts of the town and many of the traditions strike a competitive note. There are also lots of parades, you can buy tickets for a seat in the main square from the ticket office next to Piazza del Comune but it’s a good idea to do this early because they tend to sell out a few days before the event.