Beautiful Assisi in Umbria, Italy, is about an hour’s drive from where I live. A wonderfully spiritual and picturesque place it is a must see when you are in the area. This is a brief introduction.
Visit Beautiful Assisi In Umbria
Assisi sits on a hillside in Umbria in Central Italy. The town can be seen for miles and when the sun shines the buildings glow. As you land at St Francis of Assisi airport in Perugia, you can see the white glow of Assisi on the hillside above.
The airport is named after one of Italy’s patron saints, St Francis (1181–1226) who was born in Assisi.
Religious And Spiritual Focus
Assisi has a religious and spiritual focus. As well as St Francis, who founded the Franciscan Order in the town, it was also the birthplace of St Clare. The two of them founded the Poor Sisters, renamed the Order of Poor Clares after her death. As if two saints were not enough, in the 19th century St Gabriel (of Our Lady Of Sorrows) was also born in Assisi.
Not surprisingly, there are many religious buildings in Assisi such as the Basilica of Santa Chiara (St Clare) and, perhaps most strikingly, the Basilica of San Francesco di Assisi (St Frances). The latter is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In October 1986, Pope John Paul II held a historic interfaith meeting and held the first World Day Of Prayer For Peace. That he chose to hold this meeting in Assisi gives an indication of the spiritual significance of the town and its most famous saint, St Francis.
In 1997 I moved into my house here in Italy. At the end of the first week there was a massive earthquake in our part of Italy. Assisi was badly hit. Part of the vault ceiling in the Basilica of St Francis collapsed, killing four people and causing a great deal of damage. It took several years to repair and restore.
After the restoration was completed, I visited Assisi. I went at a time of year when the town was not too full of tourists (spring and autumn are the best times in my view). The town still showed signs of work being conducted on buildings post-earthquake. Some buildings were surrounded by scaffolding and you could see large cracks in the external walls.
I queued patiently to enter the Basilica of St Francis and it was worth it. The interior is full of the most gorgeous frescoes. But the most striking thing that stays with me to this day is the visit to the crypt and the Tomb of St Francis. There was silence down in the crypt and people lighting candles and praying. The feeling of peace was overwhelming. A very special energy. And it is that peaceful energy that draws people from all religious and spiritual persuasions to beautiful Assisi in Umbria.
La Festa di Calendimaggio
If you visit in late April/early May there is a wonderful event called La Festa di Calendimaggio which lasts over three days. It includes parades, drumming, flag throwing and competitions. There are an array of other cultural events that take place alongside the festival. It is great fun!
Shopping And Eating In Assisi
It is difficult to talk about shopping in Assisi without mentioning the large number of trinkets and souvenirs there are on offer. Lots of opportunities to buy postcards and mementos. But there are also many local crafts and artisan shops that are worth exploring. Things to look out for are work by local artists, leather goods and original handmade embroidery. In fact there is a long standing tradition of local embroidery in Assisi.
There are many bars and wonderful restaurants in Assisi so you won’t go hungry. Be warned, the restaurants near the Basilica of St Francis get very busy, particularly during tourist season. I would say get a recommendation of where to eat from someone with local knowledge. Or check one of the many excellent on-line restaurant guides.
A Loo With A View!
Beautiful Assisi in Umbria sits high up on a hill side with the most fabulous views down to the valley below. I leave you with this photo, taken from the window of the toilet in a bar. Now that is what I call a loo with a view!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!