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9 November 2015

Assisi Tour

basilicaWEBAssisi is the shrine of Umbria’s art and spirituality: birthplace of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, its territory is still landmarked by their living memories. That is why our trip start from the majestic Basilica di San Francesco, started in 1228, two years after the Saint’s death, the day after Pope Gregory IX proclaimed him Saint, is actually made up of two basilicas, one up on the other. The lower and most ancient one (Basilica Inferiore) is not simply a vault, but rather a superb resting place for Saint Francis’s body.

The Upper Basilica is famous for its frescoes, with stories from the Old and New Testament, by Cimabue, and from the life of Saint Francis, by Giotto. Enter through the big oak doors carved by Niccolò da Gubbio and enter the Lower Church, going down the nave you will admire the St. Catherine’s Chapel, built by the famous Cardinal Albornoz, who is buried there. Go into the main nave and admire the wonderful side chapels painted by Giovanni da Cosma and Taddeo Gaddi frescoes draw a parallel between Christ’s and Saint Francis’s lives. Cimabue executed the paintings of the transept and the apse. Down the nave you will find the high altar, erected at the tomb of St. Francis, which dominate over the four great Giotto frescoes in which he glorified the three fundamental virtues of the Franciscan Rule: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. From the Lower Church you can go down to the crypt in which rests the body of the Saint.

This basement has been converted entirely leaving intact the limestone rock which contained the sarcophagus of the saint!

Now look at the Upper Church, with its famous Gothic facade which has in its center a beautiful rose window. Once entered you will be enchanted by the light filtering through the stained-glass windows, in contrast to the lower church in which the light is significantly lower. The top is covered with frescoes narrating the Old and New Testament, whose attribution is still uncertain after the thesis that wanted to entrust the authorship of Giotto and Cimabue. The lower walls are works by Giotto and his school. This is the most important and interesting series of Franciscan paintings.

In the Assisi Church among the 28 beautiful frescoes by Giotto that narrate the life of St. Francis, there is one representing the Saint who appears to his companions in a chariot of fire. This is a vision that friars had in the Church of San Rufino, while St. Francis was praying.

Outputs from the Upper Church, you will walk along Via San Francesco to reach the medieval Piazza del Comune around which stands the Temple of Minerva, dating from the first century B.C., a true jewel of ancient art. Returning in the footsteps of the Saint, leave the square and go down. At your right you will see the New Church, built in 600 on the birthplace of S. Francis. Around the church you come to the Oratory of St. Francis Piccolino, in which according to legend was born the Saint. Walking along Corso Mazzini you will arrive in Piazza S. Chiara, overlooked by the Basilica di St. Claire Inside it, you will admire the remains of the Saint and the beautiful wooden crucifix which, according to legend, spoke to S. Francis.

Up to San Claire square you will find St Rufino Cathedral, the church dedicated to Assisi’s Patron St. Rufino. In the interior of the church you will find a Roman cistern, the baptismal font in which Francis and Clare were baptized, and the beautiful crypt of  Basilica Ugoniana which dates back to the twelfth century.

Take a look at Francis’ poor places: the Hermitage and Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels with its Porziuncola Chapel, in Santa Maria degli Angeli. The Porziuncola Chapel is important for its Raffaello frescoes.

We can suggest you an original tour around the medieval walls and don’t forget Rocca Maggiore to make amazing photos!

The most important touristic Assisi sites:

  • San Francis Church
  • San Francis Basilica inferiore
  • Near the Superior St. Francis Basilica you find the entrance of Bosco di San Francesco
  • St. Pietro Church
  • Piazza del Vescovado
  • St. Stefano Church
  • Piazza del Comune
  • S.M. sopra Minerva.
  • Chiesa Nuova
  • Santa Maria Maggiore
  • St. Chiara Basilica
  • St. Rufino Church
  • Foro Romano
  • The Rocca Maggiore
  • The Rocca Minore

Outside Assisi:

  • St. Damiano Convent
  • Eremo delle Carceri
  • St. Maria degli Angeli Church
  • St. Maria di Rivotorto Church

Generally is enough a tour of 3 days to visit the above sites.

One day Assisi tour:

  • St. Francis Superior Basilica
  • St. Francis Inferiore Basilica
  • St. Claire Church
  • San Damiano Convent
  • Eremo delle Carceri (Hermitage)
  • St. Angels Mary Church

For an half day tour we suggest you:

  • St. Francis Superior Basilica
  • St. Francis Inferiore Basilica
  • St. Claire Church

According to your next destination, you can find:

“Cesena” direction

  • Gubbio
  • Città di Castello

“Rome” direction

  • Deruta
  • Todi

“Florence” direction

  • Perugia
  • Passignano sul Trasimeno
  • Castiglione del Lago
  • Cortona

“Marche” direction

  • Trevi
  • Montefalco
  • Spoleto

We wish you a nice trip hoping to help you with our indications.

See you soon…

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