No trip to the small medieval town of Assisi is complete without seeing the many churches, large and small, located in this city of 25,000 residents.
The town is situated upon a hill in the Umbria region right in the heart of Italy. It is most known for being St. Francis’ birthplace, a man renowned for his artistic, historical, and religious significance. The city is quite small so exploring on foot is not challenging. There are walking tours and self-guided tours available.
Despite the fact that all the churches and sanctuaries in Assisi are open for tourist visitation, there are certain exceptions and rules that need to be followed. Hours for visiting will vary from one to the next, but all of them forbid tourist visits during Sunday morning mass or services. Additionally, some of these have rather strict dress codes so it is wise to check in advance so that you are not denied admission.
Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
Franciscan monastery named after St. Francis and is also a World Heritage Site. It is also the church where St. Francis was canonized in 1228. There is a lower and an upper church with artwork on display in both. The lower church features artwork by two renowned Medieval artists, Cimabue and Giotto, while the upper church features frescos reflecting the life of St. Francis. In September of 1997, the Basilica was severely damaged by an earthquake and was closed two years while it was undergoing restoration activities.
Basilica of Santa Chiara
Named after Saint Clare, the structure features massive lateral buttresses, the famous “Rose Window”, and has a simple Gothic interior. St. Clare’s tomb is located here as well as some 13th century frescoes and assorted paintings.
Cathedral of San Rufino
Also known as the Assisi Cathedral, it was named after Saint Rufinus of Assisi. Part of this structure was originally constructed on what was once a Roman cistern. It features a 16th century interior, a Romanesque façade, and three rose windows.
Eremo delle Carceri
Situated in a canyon above the town of Assisi, this small monastery was a favorite retreat of St. Francis. Supposedly, he would preach to the birds that nested there as he was resting in the garden.
Santo Stefano (Assisi)
One of the oldest churches built in Assisi. It has no ornate designing but simple stonemasons who built a rustic memento of their faith. This beautiful 12th century Romanesque church is surrounded by fig, walnut and cypress trees which were considered to be outside the town walls in olden days. According to legends, the bells of this church started ringing miraculously the day St. Francis died, on 3rd October 1226.
Santa Maria Maggiore
The church was named after St. Mary the Greater and is the oldest church still in existence in the city.
There are several other smaller churches and monasteries in the surrounding area worth seeing as well. However, the ones listed above should be included in anyone’s vacation itinerary.
Top 5 Farm Houses in Assisi, Italy
- La Mora Farm House – Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi
- Farm House Alla Madonna del Piatto – Pieve San Nicolo’, Assisi
- Farm House Il Noceto Umbro – Petrignano, Assisi
- Farm House La Tavola dei Cavalieri – Armenzano, Assisi
- Mora Relax Farm House – Rivotorto, Assisi