Visit Assisi - The Birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi
Assisi is a beautiful and charming Italian medieval town set in the rolling hills of Umbria, a short distance from Perugia and about 90 miles from Rome. It was once called Assisium and is famous as the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1182, Italy's patron Saint and founder of one of the world's largest monastic orders. Assisi was also the birthplace of Saint Clare (1194-1253) who founded the religious order of women called The Poor Clares after being inspired by the teachings and readings of Francis in the cathedral. The main attractions and places of pilgrimage in Assisi are the Church of Saint Francis, known as the Basilica of Saint Francis, completed in 1253 which was his burial place after he died in 1226, and the Basilica of Saint Clare where Saint Clare's remains are in the crypt. The Basilica of Saint Clare is where the original crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis can be found. The buildings are some of the best preserved examples of thirteenth-century Italian art.
The old historical part of Assisi is quite small so it is easy to walk around and explore on foot but it is also quite hilly. The lovely narrow cobbled lanes, stone buildings, medieval houses, shops and massive gates are a delight to see. Visitors should also take time to see some of Italy's finest Renaissance art, the fifth-century Cathedral of San Rufino which features the baptismal font of Saint Francis and Saint Clare with its most beautiful facade, the Basilica of Santa Chiara and the Chiesa Nuova.
The centre of Assisi is the Piazza del Comune which is a lively and well-preserved square which is really the heart of Assisi's social life. The Piazza has a sixteenth-century fountain surrounded by three stone lion statues and is also home to the beautiful church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with impressive Roman columns, and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo with the famous clock tower.
Other places to see when visiting Assisi should include the great views from the medieval fortress of Rocca Maggiore which was built on a rocky hilltop in 1353 by Cardinal Albornoz, the Eremo della Carceri which was where Saint Francis frequently stayed to pray and think, and the church of San Damiano which was restored by Saint Francis of Assisi and became a home for Saint Clare.