Assisi Travel Guide

assisiAssisi, situated in the Abruzzo region on the offshoots of the Subasio range, is a lovely medieval town with beautiful architecture, which, for the number of its monuments, is considered one of the most artistically rich destinations in Italy. The churches, palaces, castles and ruins are the heritage of an eventful past.

The town’s main square has the perfectly preserved Roman Temple of Minerva, however the focus point of Assisi is the St. Francis Basilica. Assisi was St. Francis’ birthplace and masses of peregrines come every year to visit the town in his honour.

Assisi has a mystical atmosphere that mixed with the medieval charms of the narrow cobblestone streets make it a fascinating holiday destination. As well as the art monuments and churches, Assisi has a lot of traditional festivals such as the medieval celebrations at the beginning of May. The Easter celebrations are very touching and picturesque, as well as the Ascension and the celebrations in honour of St. Francis, Patron Saint of Italy. The city is surrounded by a beautiful countryside of rolling hills covered with olive groves and vineyards producing very good olive oil and wines.

Transport in Assisi

From the airport
The small Sant’Egidio Airport is located 11 km from the city centre and there are no public transport connections. The only way to get from the airport to Assisi is by taxi or car hire.
Assisi is best served by other major Italian airports such as Pisa, Florence and Rome from where the city is easily accessed by train.

By Train
Assisi’s Railway Station of Santa Maria degli Angeli is 3 km away from the historic centre; a bus service connects the station with Piazza Matteotti.

Around Assisi
The Assisi Bus network consists of three main lines (A, B and C) that run every 30 minutes from the city outskirts towards the centre of town.

Assisi Culture

Assisi’s old town is very characteristic with cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. The churches are the city’s main attraction and in particular the St. Francis Basilica that treasures paintings by masters such as Giotto, Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti and others. Ermeo delle Carceri on Mount Subasio was the retreat high in the mountain where St’ Francis used to go to meditate and pray. Other churches worthy of note are the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Church of Santa Clara. The Oratorio dei Pellegrini houses 15th century frescoes, but is quite difficult to get to see them properly as the white-robed nuns are often kneeling down in prayer.

The fortress Rocca Maggiore towering over the city is a constant reminder of the hated Cardinal Albornoz, who built the 14th-century version we see today to establish papal authority over Assisi. Visitors can enter the outer walls to visit the recently restored keep and soldiers’ quarters. A very long corridor lit by repeating arrow slits leads to a completely unlit polygonal watchtower with panoramic views at the top.

Locally produced extra-virgin olive oil and truffles, both white and black, are the distinguish traits of Assisi’s local cuisine. Black truffles grow between November and March and their picking season goes from March to September peaking at the height of summer. Black truffles need to be cooked before eating and are usually grated on pasta or game dishes to enhance their flavour. They are very strong in taste and a tiny amount is sufficient. White truffles are even more valuable than black ones and can be consumed raw, slivers on bread or pasta. Their picking season is from October to December, but can found as late as January in frost free areas.

Assisi’s cuisine is based on simple earthy food prepared with olive oil. Meats, particularly from locally farmed animals, oven roasted or on charcoals are at the centre of most recipes: pork, lamb, poultry and game.

Homemade pasta is also typical of this area with rich sauces such as goose ragu as well as hare and truffles are often found on local menus.

assisi2Sights and Landmarks

The Cathedral Museum and the San Rufino Cripta
Opening hours: 10-13 and 15-18 (summer); 10-13 and 14.30-17.30 (winter)
Admission charge

The Pinacoteca
Inside the 17th century Vallemani Palace
It consists of a group of frescoes and a collection of paintings covering the time period between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Opening hours: 10-13 and 14-18 (summer); 10-13 and 14-17 (winter)

Civic Museum and Roamn Forum
via Portica, 2 Assisi (Perugia)
Public property
Opening hours: 10-13 and 14-18 (summer); 10-13 and 14-17 (winter)

Pericle Fazzini Museum
Palazzo del Perdono Piazza Garibaldi, 1/c – 06081 Assisi
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday  10-13 and 16–19 (winter); 10–13 and 14–23 (summer)
Admission charge

The Porziuncola Museum
Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
Opening hours: everyday 9-12 and 15-18 (winter); 9-12 and 15.30-18.30 (summer)
Admission free offers

Events throughout the year in Assisi

April – May
Holy week Celebrations
Easter celebrations are strongly felt by locals and peregrines that come to Assisi for this important Catholic festivity. On the Thursday before Easter in the ceremony of the Deposition in the Cathedral of San Rufino and on Good Friday in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore worshippers celebrate Christ’s three hour agony and in the evening is the lit procession for his death.

Calendimaggio
This festival taking place from the 29th of April to the 1st of May is the celebration of spring. However since 1954 has also been the re-enactment of the historical fight between the city’s two quarters including many events of medieval nature, music and parades.


June

“Infiorate” – Flower procession
The Sunday after Corpus Domini is a procession along the city’s streets that are covered by beautiful flower arrangements.


August

San Rufino Festival
Celebration in honour of Assisi’s Patron Saint Rufino on 12th of August. On the last Sunday of August there is a historical Renaissance parade followed by the Palio of San Rufino.


September

Cavalcata of Satriano
The first weekend in September is the remembrance of the last return of Saint Francis just before he died at Porziuncola.


October

San Francesco Fair
This fair comprising about 150 expositors of various products takes place in early October in Assisi’s historical centre.

 

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