Green Umbria is a region waiting to be discovered. Among the many stops that you can make on your itinerary, we suggest three things to do in Assisi.
Spending a day in Assisi means discovering an important part of a region as rich as Umbria and getting to know a history that has its roots in distant times.
From the remains of Etruscan and Roman monuments to the crenellated walls and turreted gates, it is possible to understand the history of a city but also of a civilisation, that of Umbria. Assisi is the city of St. Francis and in this pretty Umbrian town you can breathe an atmosphere of spirituality and peace mixed with history and art.
Plan a day in Assisi, we recommend three things to do.
Basilica of St Francis in Assisi
Assisi is a typical Umbrian village perched on top of a hill overlooking the valley.
Even before arriving, taking the road that runs at the foot of Assisi, you can see and admire how this pretty little town was built in an orderly fashion and has remained so over the centuries. This makes it very picturesque.
The Basilica of San Francis is certainly the heart of Assisi and a must-see for every visitor, pilgrim or not.
Imposing to the eye as soon as you approach Assisi, the construction of the Basilica dedicated to St Francis was completed in 1230, less than four years after the Saint’s death. Only two years earlier, on 16 July 1228, Gregory IX had proclaimed the holiness of Francis and the following day laid the first stone of the future basilica. The basilica was built on what used to be the Colle dell’Inferno (Hell Hill) (where the hangings of the condemned men took place), later renamed Colle del Paradiso (Paradise Hill).
The Basilica is composed of two overlapping churches: the Lower Basilica, the Upper Basilica and the crypt where the tomb of St. Francis is located.
The Basilica is famous worldwide for the cycle of paintings by Giotto, but he is not the only artist present. The two churches also contain works by Cimabue, Lorenzetti and Simone Martini.
Giotto’s famous fresco in the Upper Basilica, divided into 28 paintings, tells the life of St Francis. The same artist also painted the Magdalene Chapel and the eight stories of the Infancy of Christ.
In the lower part, the crypt is reminiscent of the Holy Sepulchre because of its shape: dug into the wall and circular. The urn containing the saint’s remains is made of stone and is closed by bars in two iron grilles. The same ones behind which St Francis died.
Temple of Minerva in Assisi
The temple, built in the 1st century B.C., is thought to have been dedicated to Hercules, although its name is due to the discovery of a statue of a woman.
This place has been used for many purposes: from a temple it first became a prison, then it was used as a dwelling, a shop and the seat of the town council. In the Middle Ages it was transformed into a church: Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
In 1634, the church was refurbished in Baroque style and dedicated to St Philip Neri. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s testimony is interesting when he arrived in Assisi in 1786 and saw the Temple of Minerva. He was enchanted by the columns of the building, which for him was the first ancient monument he had seen intact. He said:
«I would never have been satisfied with observing the facade and the brilliant consistency of the artist that it demonstrates. […] Reluctantly I tore myself away from the sight, proposing to draw the attention of all architects to this building so that an exact plan might be drawn up.»
Paragliding for two in the skies over Assisi
If you love adrenaline-pumping adventures, this is the perfect experience for you: Paragliding for two in the skies over Assisi.
Think of the city of Assisi and the Mount Subasio Park as a backdrop to experience the thrill of flying free in the air, paragliding for two. You will be accompanied by an instructor or a pilot qualified to carry a passenger. A few metres of running on the grass and then you will rise into the air and start to feel the breeze caressing your face, giving you a feeling of safety, stability and great freedom!
A completely safe experience that only takes place in favourable weather conditions and with careful assessment by the instructors who will deem the flight feasible or not.
Feel like relaxing after this breathtaking experience? Antognolla Golf, near Perugia, is the ideal place for you who like to stop for a few hours before resuming your daily routine or your trip to the wonders of Umbria and Italy.