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