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Assisi: Medieval Splendor
A walk through Assisi - justly acclaimed "crown jewel of the medieval hill towns" - will encompasses its rich historical and artistic heritage - and do meet the "locals" to experience its modern day life and history.
You'll need a good amout of time in the stunning 3-level Romanesque/Gothic Basilica di San Francesco built in the 13th c. to house the body of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy and most beloved of all saints for the Italians.
On October 4th, Feast of St. Francis, the procession in his honor concludes here. The greatest masters of the time - Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti - were called to this Basilica to fresco Francesco, rendering this church one of Italy's most outstanding art museums. A 13th c. historian wrote: "no more exquisite monument to the Lord has yet been built" - and this comment is still appropriate! While in the Basilica, feast your eyes on the astounding fresco restoration project following the earthquake of 1997, considered among the greatest restoration projects in Western European art.
As you stroll the town, get lost in the picturesque medieval backstreets, stopping to chat with local artisans intent on their crafts: engravers, painters, sculptors, a craftsman of maiolica (for which this area is so noted), a book-binder/restorer of ancient volumes, a craftsman who paints on glass, a carver of olive wood. In the imposing gothic Basilica di Santa Chiara, 13th-century reliquary church housing the body of St. Clare, look for the late 12th-c Byzantine crucifix said to have spoken to St. Francis. Wish the Poor Clares there "Pax et bonum."
From the Basililca di Santa Chiara, perhaps you'll find the backstreet sided with Roman wall of the 3rd c. B.C and flanked by a Roman city gate. In the main piazza of Assisi, the medieval bell tower towers over elegant civic buildings of the 13th-14th c. and the stately 1st c. BC Temple of Minerva, one of the few monuments of Assisi which withstood NO damage in the 1997 earthquake! (In May, what a backdrop this main square makes for one of Italy's greatest medieval festivals, our Calendimaggio)!
Read more about Assisi, Francesco and "Pax et Bonum"
Click here to read about Assisi's October celebration of St. Francis
Read about a November Assisi food festival
Read about a December event in Assisi
Click here for news on Christmas in Assisi
Click here to read about Eastertime in the Assisi area
Find out why Good Friday in Assisi is not to be missed
Find out why the Assisi countryside fills with music on April 30th
Read about - and see! - April 30th festivities in Assisi
Read about - and see! - the astounding May medieval festival in Assisi, Calendimaggio
Click here to read about Corpus Christi festivities in Assisi
Get lost in the medieval backstreets and discover other Assisi treasures, both Roman and medieval, meeting "the locals, as well as noted Umbrian artisans. Head over to Spello, (16 km from Assisi), a gem of the "undiscovered" medieval hilltowns of Umbria.
After lunch, stroll Spello, che bello!. Like Assisi, Spello is constructed in the local pink limestone quarried on Mt. Subasio, lending it a unique rosy hue, particularly at sunset. Discover the vestiges of Spello's Roman origins, one of the most splendid Renaissance fresco cycles in Umbria, and in a nearby church, you'll want to meet an inspiring local friar/craftsman. Medieval splendors - the great ones, the lesser-known ones - highlight this day. Encounters with unforgettable local people make it a day to remember.
Click here to read about - and see! - the wondrous floral petal festival of Spello
Read about - and see! - Spello's floral passione, all year
Click here to read about Spello's celebration of olive oil
Read about eating flowers in Spello!
A tiny hilltown gem near Spello enchants