The city of Assisi is known the world over as the birthplace and home to the famous St. Francis of Assisi. While the town is not known for its culinary traditions, it’s well worth a stop during an Umbrian cooking holiday of Tuscan cooking vacation to explore a different aspect of Italian culture: the variety of stunning churches that have been around for centuries.
Near the southeastern entrance to Assisi, stop at the basilica of Sant Chiara, which features some enormous buttresses on the outside of the building as well as a beautiful rose window. Then take a stroll through town to shop and soon you’ll start to feel as if you’re stepping back in time! Not only are there many Roman ruins, but some of the city’s oldest buildings are graced with lovely faded frescoes.
If you decide to wander up a hill – of which there are many! – consider venturing off the main square and up a small lane that stops at the oldest church in Assisi, San Stefano, which is a beautiful, basic example of rural Italian Romanesque architecture.
While the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi is one of the most popular sites in Assisi, it too is well worth the visit. In the upper part of this World Heritage Site, admire some beautiful frescoes, which are largely intact despite the earthquake in 1997 that damaged portions of the designs. In the lower part of the church, you can also see some fabulous works by Cimabue and Giotto, an artist whose designs can be found all over Assisi.
Others churches well worth the visit include San Pietro, with an underground museum; Chiesa Nuova, supposedly built where St. Francis was born; Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major, or Saint Mary the Greater), one of the earliest religious buildings in all of Assisi, including its crypt, just to name a few.
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