We went to Assisi for the day on Friday as we had been advised not go there at the weekend when it would invariably be invaded by hordes of tourists.
As we drove up the hill from the valley floor we were directed to an underground car park which meant that the car stayed cool for the duration of our visit. Assisi is built on the hillside and, typically for these hillside towns, car parking is very problematic particularly for a town as popular as Assisi. After going up a couple of escalators we emerged at the edge of the town.
Assisi, birthplace and home to St Francis of Assisi, was a vision of pink and grey cut stone buildings, spotlessly clean and with an overall atmosphere of calm.
a small plaque on this facade announced that it was the B and B called “la gatta duchina” (gatta is a female cat but I don’t know what duchina means, maybe it’s a name) and I thought this would be a lovely spot to spend a few days
We walked along the road just inside the city wall to the basilica di San Francesco where St Francis is buried.
This has an upper and a lower basilica so there was lots to see – too much in fact, as every inch of wall space was covered in paintings. In the upper basilica the life of St Francis is illustrated in a series of frescoes. You are not allowed to take photos inside but there are lots here. If we had been allowed to take photos I think it would have been very distracting. However, the ban didn’t seem to have registered with the many people who just resorted to using their phones to take photos. We visited both the upper and lower basilicas and the crypt where St Francis is buried. His tomb was in a small chapel through which an endless stream of people flowed or stopped to absorb the atmosphere and pray.
We then headed back towards town. I let DH go on ahead and find himself some liquid refreshment thinking I would catch up with him en route as I was busy taking photos.
BUt he disappeared from sight and I didn’t see him as I walked up the hill to the main square (piazza del commune) where I got into the tourist office minutes before it closed. I decided to wait for him in the piazza and rued the fact that I had his mobile phone in my handbag as well as my own (duh). I visited the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva dedicated to Mary built over a Roman temple to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Parts of the Roman temple, which dates from the time of Augustus (63 BC-AD 14), still remain. The interior of the church came as something of a shock as it had been decorated in Baroque style which was completely at odds with its Roman entrance columns.
In an arched walkway from the piazza through to a parallel road I found this beautiful painted ceiling.
Eventually I ended up retracing almost my whole route before I found him.
to visit the cathedral of San Rufino.
and then we visited the church of Santa Chiara before heading back to the car.