Visiting Assisi during an Italy cooking vacation
The city of Assisi is known the world over as the birthplace and home to the infamous 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 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; St. Mary the Greater Church, the earliest religious building in all of Assisi; and the crypt of Santa Maria Maggiore, just to name a few.
The city of Assisi, and all its churches, can be explored during a variety of our Umbria cooking vacations, including our newest program “Cooking in a Luxury Country Resort,” and our best-selling trip “A Culinary Adventure in Umbria” (which includes a guided visit of Assisi). One of our Tuscany programs, which is based in Cortona, also visits St. Francis’s city, “Cooking and Vineyards of Southern Tuscany.”By Liz SanFilippo Hall