A journey to Assisi can be interpreted in different ways, both physical and spiritual. In the case of our traveler the two experiences fit together perfectly. He advises us on visiting Assisi in one day.
Arriving in Assisi along one of the many roads and paths, one already sees from afar its sinuous and imposing profile, the feeling of having reached the goal. We cross wheat and sunflower fields, woods skirting river beds and then ascend the gentle slopes of the hill. We first stop to look at this city that covers the hillside and colors it with the red of its bricks and admire its bell towers, its towers, its castle.
A Rich History
Entering from one of its great medieval doors, we begin to explore. Walking through the narrow streets of the village you arrive at the heart of the city: Piazza del Comune. A luminous space that hints at the city’s very beginnings with the Roman settlement of Assisium and the Temple of Minerva. It was converted into the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in the sixteenth century. The city is a perfect example of how history is layered upon itself. The Temple is the only building that emerges on the surface of the ancient Roman Forum, now transformed into a museum that can be visited.
Cathedrals and Basilicas
From the square, it is easy to reach various points of interest. The Cathedral of San Rufino, the Church of San Pietro and the two sanctuaries that, more than others, tell of the subsequent history of Assisi, inextricably linked to spirituality: the Basilica of San Francesco and the Church of Santa Chiara. The Basilica of San Francesco with the adjacent convent dominates the city’s skyline and Giotto’s frescoes in the Upper Basilica impress every visitor.
Assisi has been the destination of an assiduous pilgrimage for centuries which reaches far beyond believers. This is because the Franciscans have touched a chord with the human soul: the fraternal relationship with Nature and its contemplation, the renunciation of material goods and an intense spiritual life.
Outside the City Walls
This spirituality is still present for those who arrive with an open mind and heart. Outside the city walls, there are other sights to fill the soul such as the Church of San Damiano. It’s immersed in the silence of the cypress trees, like the Eremo delle Carceri, the magical place where Francis and his followers retired to meditate that rises on the slopes of Mount Subasio. Another inspiring place, whose gentle peaks inspire endless walks immersed in uncontaminated nature and which offer vast panoramas over the valley below.
Another vantage point is the Castle of Assisi, or rather the Rocca Maggiore. It was built in 1356 on the initiative of the vicar of the Papal States. From its wide grassy area, it is possible to look out over the whole Assisi Valley and, in addition to the splendid villages of Bevagna, Montefalco, and Bettona, you can see two other centers of Franciscan importance. The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli which contains within it the Porziuncola, a small church of great artistic value and a privileged place of prayer of the Saint, and the Church of Rivotorto, also a place of permanence of Francis and his followers.
Assisi is a place rich in history, nature, spirituality, and faith. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, it welcomes all types of visitors and leaves a deep and personal impression on each one, inviting them to abandon themselves and open their hearts.
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