Friday: Assisi

Friday was our first out-of-town excursion!  Mom, the Hubby and I took a bus from Perugia to the nearby city of Assisi, which is a religious center and the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi, the  founder of the Franciscan religious order. 

The town of Assisi is ALL hills and stairs going up.  I’m sure that they must go down at some point, but it seemed like even the down hills were going up.  But the walking and climbing is worth it; here’s what we saw after scaling the first hill into the city:

Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco. 

This was an incredible sight.  The courtyard is gigantic and the Basilica rises up high into the sky.  It’s simply dazzling to approach.

Main entryway into Basilica di San Francesco

There were monks inside of the basilica enforcing the dress code: Knees and shoulders needed to be covered.  Anyone wearing spaghetti-strap, tank top or strapless shirts/dresses had to drape a navy blue sheet around their shoulders before they were allowed to walk through the basilica.  Those with dresses, skirts or shorts that ended above the knees were given the same blue sheets to wrap around their waists.  The dress code applied to both men and women. 

Pictures were not allowed inside the Basilica, so this is all ya get from me.  As an aside: The only person I saw sneaking a photo inside of the basilica was an elderly woman in a nun’s habit…I giggled.  The interior was incredibly ornate – almost every surface of the walls and the high, cavernous ceiling appeared to be covered in decorative painting and murals.  There were several areas for worship, and at least one service was in session as we walked by.  We also went down into the underground crypt, which is said to contain the remains of St. Francis and four of his companions. 

View of the countryside from the Sagrato Superiore di San Francesco.

Walking Through Town

Up, up and more up.  Absolutely beautiful, but definitely up.

An arch curving over Via S. Francesco

Assisi has a much more touristy feel than Perugia.  The city was very crowded, clutches (gaggles?) of tourists walked in packs (herds?) following tour guides waving flags over their heads, and there were several tourist shops selling Assisi/church-themed souveniers on every block of the main road.

It was 95 F in Assisi that day.  I was very envious of the kids across the street from where the three of us had chosen to have drinks:

You can’t throw a stone in Assisi without hitting a monk.  Which, incidentally, I wouldn’t do…it just wouldn’t be nice.  These two were standing in the Piazza del Comune.  I liked the backpacks and sunglasses with the brown robes. 

The Piazza del Comune is surrounded by the Foro Romano, the Palazzo Comunale, and the spectacularly gigantic buildings of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and the Chiesa di Santa Maria sopra Minerva.  The dichotomies between architecture of the older temple of Minerva and the more “modern” palazzo is stunning.  This picture is from another website because I just could not get the right perspective – the damn tall tower made capturing a good shot of both buildings really difficult.


Inside the Temple of Minerva

 La Rocca Maggiore

After the Temple of Minerva we were all too tired to keep climbing, but the next bus to Perugia was still two hours away!  So we did something pricey but fun: We had a taxi drive us around town and show us the sights!  One of the biggest highlights of our taxi tour was a trip up to La Rocca Maggiore – a fortress on a hilltop overlooking the city center.

La Rocca Maggiore as seen from downtown Assisi

La Rocca Maggiore from town, zoomed in.

 On top of Assisi – La Rocca Maggiore

View of central Assisi, seen from La Rocca Maggiore.

At the end of the day we rode back to Perugia (by taxi – long story involving a touristy, non-Italian-speaking mistake regarding bus schedules and school day vs. non-school day routes) and chilled for the rest of the evening.  It was another fine day in Italy.

Friday: Assisi

Perugia: Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday we went exploring.  It was our first full day in Perugia, so we started at the apartment and radiated out.  We went grocery shopping and browsed a street vendor selling ceramics at Piazza Danti.

Food from the Alimentari

Ceramics for sale on the steps of Cathedrale San Lorenzo

We discovered that Perugia is a narrow oval of a town; you can walk for a very long time in one direction, then take one side street and be not too far from where you started.  It’s hard to tell where’ll you’ll end up because the streets twist and turn in haphazard, multilevel, maze-like routes – some roads lead you uphill, some roads lead down.  Some of the streets go underneath buildings and are hidden in the corners of other streets that look like dead-ends.  Also, you can meander down a very gradual hill with lots of twists and turns for thirty minutes, and then get back home in five minutes by taking one steep stairway.  The entire town is hills, hills, hills and many people walk everywhere (according to the Tourist Information office).  You could eat pizza and drink beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never gain weight in this town!

There are frescoes located all throughout the town, tucked in back alleyways and displayed prominantly along busy streets.

A small fresco displayed above a modern clothing store in Perugia’s Centro Storico.

A close-up of the same fresco

A fresco seen on Via Ercolano

Wednesday we decided to follow one of the local walking tours that took us to the far edge of town.  We followed a gradual hill up to the Keep of Sant’Angelo – a giant castle-looking structure – and found a beautiful temple (Temple of Sant’Angelo) hidden at the top of a hill behind stone walls and a lush green garden.

The Keep from Corso Garibaldi –  the largest of Perugia’s medieval city gates (14th century)

The Keep as seen from the Temple Garden 


Me in front of the Temple of Sant’Angelo, the oldest church in Perugia (5th-6th century)


  Inside the Temple – the main center

In order to save a little space, I am condensing the following pictures  into thumbnails.  You should be able to click on each picture to enlarge them if you’re interested. 


L to R, top to bottom: temple ceiling, around an inside wall of the temple, wall fresco, fresco and cross, burial tombs(?), church bells, baptismal chamber (located off of the main gallery), side room, side room (sorry, I don’t know what these side rooms were used for), prayer candles.

On the way home we were treated to an excellent view of the Etruscan Arch (Arco Etrusco).

The Etruscan Arch – shot on the way home from the Temple of Sant’Angelo

The Etruscan Arch – shot earlier that morning

The Etruscan Arch – inside wall

And here’s a few shots from later in the evening and Wednesday night:

Roof tiling from the edge

Perugia: Tuesday and Wednesday