Uphill. All. The. Time. What goes up must come down? Wrong.
Umbia’s central location made it desirable to conquering outsiders, starting with the Etruscans in 5th century BCE. The Romans showed up in the 3rd century BCE and stayed until their empire fell.
The Piazza del Comune — the town square — was the site of a Roman forum.
On the square is the 1st century BC Temple of Minerva (with the columns, below), which now houses a church: Santa Maria sopra Mineva. Under the church is a museum that features the remnants of the forum, discovered in the 1800s. The bell tower is 13th century, with a 15th century clock. On the other side of the bell tower is the 1282 Captain’s Palace, originally headquarters for the head of the militia. It’s now offices for the carabinieri.
I wonder if that’s another Juliet’s House-type balcony/sarcophagus in the photo above.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
All of the St. Francis of Assisi-associated structures around town are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Its medieval art masterpieces … have made Assisi a fundamental reference point for the development of Italian and European art and architecture.”
The 13th century Basilica of St. Clare houses the remains of St. Clare of Assisi, a contemporary follower of St. Francis and founder of the Poor Clare order of nuns. Her body lies in a glass case, which tourists can only view from the right side. And what tourists actually see isn’t her body but a nun’s habit vaguely shaped like a supine body, with a mannequin-like face (which was created using forensic-like digital imaging of her skull). Only Poor Clare sisters are allowed access to the area, on the left side of the casket, where her actual bones lay, uncovered so that the sisters can view them but so that they’re hidden from the general public.
Also at the basilica are clothing and other artifacts that belonged to Clare and Francis.
I don’t know why there’s a carousel in front of the basilica.
The Hotel Giotto was just steps from the Basilica of St. Francis. And from our room, we had a fabulous view of the valley below.
Assisi is very St. Francis-centric, so I don’t know how enjoyable it would be for someone who has no interest in him or in religious art and architecture. It was, however, my favorite of the small towns that we visited on the trip. More than Verona, this was the town where I could see Romeo and Juliet running up and down the narrow, medieval streets. It’s about two and a half hours by train from either Rome or Florence, so eventually I’ll go back to spend a few days.