Visiting the miraculous city of Assisi this year was definitely a highlight on our Cooking in Italy tours. I am not Catholic, but am a Christian so of course, I’ve heard about Frances of Assisi. Frances was born into a wealthy family in the 12th century and led a very privileged life. His father a land owner and cloth merchant, his mother was French, he grew up with many luxuries and was known as a “wild child.” During this time he also learned many skills for fighting, archery and had a desire to be a war hero.
After a war broke out between Assisi and Perugia, Frances signed up to take his place. However, his time in war would forever change him. He was captured and imprisoned and some believe became very ill. This was the first time he had visions of God. After his time in prison, Frances devoted his life to one of poverty and service. Frances began to preach the gospel all throughout the region of Umbria, even to the animals.
Although some people thought him crazy others thought he was a saint and he began performing miracles and healing the sick ~ his sacrificial life and preaching led to many, many followers. Pope John Paul II venerated Frances as the patron saint of ecology in 1979.
Pope Frances today has actually taken the name of this Ecology Saint as his name and is venerated in the city. Loved this statue they erected in his honor. Really incredible ~
San Francesco of Assisi
The church is known as San Francesco (Saint Frances) of Assisi. It’s truly, truly beautiful. No pictures inside though. At least you are not suppose to ~ there were some disrespectfully taking them, but it is requested to not photograph with signage everywhere. There is a lovely gift shop that raises money for the upkeep and maintenance of the churches. Please buy your pictures here ~ at least of the inside.
Throughout your walking tour you will see the different periods of decor the churches went through during different ruling families throughout history. One of the most enjoyable sights to see was the difference in medieval art, Renaissance period, the simple period back to medieval beginnings. It is being restored now to the original and it is stunning. Churches may not be your thing, but if you are an art collector or love Italian art in particular this is a site to see for sure.
After the church we walked through the town and having all day we took our time. Stopped off for gelato on the way and did a little shopping.
I was not prepared for all the lovely alleys filled with artisans and local craftsmen as well as tourist shops in Assisi. This medieval town stretched for kilometers and we walked well into the night.
Time to stop for dinner ~
Thankfully I asked Raffa from our stay at Let’s Cook in Umbria (in nearby Perugia) where to eat and Paolo our driver suggested Il Vicolleto . This little restaurant tucked away in a little alley in Assisi made us feel like locals. The service and food were impeccable with a daily menu that looked like it changed all the time. Roberto our server was very nice and totally helpful in pairing our wines with our dishes.
So much more to see
There was so much to see one day is certainly not enough to spend in Assisi – here are a few places that are on my next visit ~
- Fortress Rocca Maggiore
- Bibenda Assisi – chocolate, wine and more tastings!! (passed this but ran out of time)
- Chiesa Nuova
- Giovanni Paolo II – walkway
- Antiche Fonti Di Moiano – places of silence – ancient ruins predating medieval times
Whether Assisi is your destination or a stop along the way through Italy – you need to make it there. It’s unforgettable scenery, locally-made delicious food and spectacular architecture transports you to the medieval ages when Frances walked the streets. So much history and spirit in one Italian town ~ definitely a keeper.
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!