A charming Umbrian town with a long history
19.03.2011 - 20.03.2011 48 °F
Hello from Assisi Italy,
We left the train station in Florence for the 135 km trip Southeast to Assisi. We arrived in the station which is located on the valley floor and took a taxi up to the old walled city that rests on top of a nearby mountain. We typically have a hotel reservation waiting for us upon arrival in a new city but this time we wanted to stay at a particular hotel that had been recommended to us by friends but with whom we had not been able to make contact. Upon arrival we understood why….it was closed until May. Traveling during the off season definitely has some advantages but also some disadvantages. While we have enjoyed access to many of the most popular sites with only minimal waits and crowds we have also encountered many more closures and construction than you would typically encounter in the high season. After speaking to the driver he recommended another hotel with very nice owners. Unfortunately, they did not have any rooms left with a view. When I seemed disappointed he thought a moment and decided to rent us a room in a hilltop property they also owned but typically did not use during the winter months. We had a beautiful view of the city roof tops and the valley below from a hotel that must have had about 12 rooms and we were the only ones in the building. Susan loved the experience until I mentioned the movie “The Shining” …guess I will never learn.
Upon arrival we were enchanted with the charm of the city. The history of the city goes back a long way. It was believed to have been founded during a wave of immigration to Europe in about 1000 BC. In about 450 BC the Etruscans took over the city and then it was captured by the Romans in about 295 BC. Some of the Roman construction from this time period is still standing today. The city is maybe best known as the home of St. Francis who founded the Franciscan Religious Order here in Assisi in 1208.
Let’s get to the pictures…………..
Here is a picture of the old walled city of Assisi.
A picture looking out of our hotel window at the rooftops of the city and a couple of the cathedrals nearby.
Given our good fortune at securing a room with such a nice view in such a private building I thought we should celebrate with one of those bottles of Super Tuscan we purchased back at the Saint Appiano winery. Nothing but the finest plastic stemware for us.
The next three pictures were taken of the city streets as we discovered charming Assisi.
This is a picture of the fountain in the main piazza courtyard in the city
One of the old water fountains in the city. I saw pictures in the city of oxen drinking from this fountain in the mid 1800’s.
One of the archways leading to another small street that was beautifully decorated.
The Basilica of Santa Chiara (aka Saint Clare). Built in the late 13th century it has a pretty basic gothic style interior.
The next two pictures were taken just outside St Clare’s cathedral in the courtyard.
The building with the columns in front is one of the remaining Roman structures in the city. It was built as a temple of Minerva but when Christianity was adopted here in 238 AD by bishop Rufino it became the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
A picture from inside the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Very small but beautiful.
A picture of one of the original gateways on the old wall of the city.
An old fresco in one of the open archways in the city.
The next two pictures were taken at the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi which has now been designated a World Heritage site. The church was built between 1228 and 1253 immediately after the canonization of St. Francis. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed of the beautiful frescos depicting the life story of St Francis inside.
Here is Susan with one of the Franciscan monks asking for donations on the street. I wanted to know…If he took a vow of poverty what did he want my money for? Hmmm
Susan dishing out some head scratching to what may be the fattest cat I have ever seen.
The next seven pictures were taken while discovering the cities back streets and alleyways. It may be the most charming city we have seen.
Just above the town at the peak of the mountain lies the Rocca Maggiore which is a mid evil castle built under the direction of Cardinal Albornoz in 1367 some say to intimidate the towns people with the power of the church. The next four pictures were taken on our afternoon visit to the castle.
My funny (maybe odd would be more accurate) street scene for this entry is this wire fence along side the road leading from the Rocca Maggiore to the city below. Those decorations on the wire fence are actually pieces of used chewing gum that people have deposited over time.
One final shot at sunset as we reflect on a wonderful stay in the charming Umbrian town of Assisi.
Next we depart by train to Rome where we plan to take in the major sites and enjoy some more amazing Italian food and wine.
Until next time…Ciao.