This past Friday I spent the day in nearby Assisi, known for Francis of Assisi, and despite being hot, really enjoyed the beautiful city. The photo above was taken on a stop on the way to the town (we went by bus) and is a good reminder that there are actually lakes in this area! We stopped first at Santa Maria degli Angeli in the lower town of Assisi, whereas most of Assisi is actually up on the hill.
Francis asked for a small place in the woods (during his time the town was all up on the hill, and this area was the woods) for his order to pray. That church was preserved and is still inside this church, which was built up around it.
We then took the bus up the hill into the town of Assisi and started out at this church that you see above, St. Francis’ basilica. It’s well-known within the art history world for its famous fresco cycles, including many by Giotto. We had a guided tour here, which was interesting because our guide was from India so he had a pretty strong accent. For most of the day, as I was with a friend’s school, a religious studies professor took us around and explained things to us, which was really great since I’m not Catholic and so don’t know a ton about Francis. Below is a great shot of the basilica from the front.
So from there we walked further up the hill into the main city square and took a lunch break, after which we walked up even further to the medieval castle in the area. It was a good hike, not that bad except for the heat.
You can climb the towers for a good view, but other than that there isn’t that much to see. The view is great from the hill, so even if you don’t want to pay for going inside I would recommend walking up. You get great views of the town of Assisi as well as the Italian countryside and hills.
We walked back down after and stopped by another church, where Francis heard God tell him to rebuild his church.
Overall I would say Assisi is a beautiful hilly town to visit on a day trip from Florence– especially in the spring or fall when the weather is nicer. It is a great town to get outside of the hustle and tourist rush, though there are many Catholic pilgrims, especially at the basilica. Willing to do a little hiking? Visit the smaller churches, where you’ll practically have the place to yourself.