Assisi, Italy

View of the medieval city of Assisi, with the Duomo in the center and Basilica di Santa Chiara on the right. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Assisi is a small Umbrian town in central Italy, located 12 miles (19 km) east of Perugia at an elevation of 1,300 feet (400 meters). Assisi is best known as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi — patron saint of Italy, founder of the Franciscan order, and one of the most popular Catholic saints in history. Assisi's main attraction is the 13th-century Basilica di San Francesco, which contains the sacred relics of Francis and beautiful frescoes of his life. And there are at least seven other churches well worth visiting for their history, beauty, and connection with Francis or his friend Clare. The town of Assisi, with its Roman ruins, winding medieval streets and sacred shrines, has been a major Catholic pilgrimage destination for centuries and is today one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. Although Assisi has only about 3,000 inhabitants (26,000 in the larger comune of Assisi), 4 to 5 million visitors throng the small town each year. As would be expected, the city has become a bit "touristy" in the process - but its many great sites make it very much worth seeing nevertheless. And several sites outside of the city walls remain quiet and frequented mainly by pilgrims. The Sacred Destinations team spent five happy days in Assisi in April 2008 and have many photos to share! Follow a link below to begin exploring Assisi.

Basilica di San Francesco
Filled with spectacular frescoes by Giotto, this church is Assisi's crowning glory. It is a place of pilgrimage for Francis devotees and art lovers alike.
San Damiano Convent
This church and convent outside the city walls is where the crucifix spoke to St. Francis, prompting him to repair it and begin his ministry. Later, St. Clare lived and died here.
Basilica di Santa Chiara
This 13th-century church is the final resting place of St. Clare, the beloved friend of St. Francis and founder-abbess of the Order of the Poor Clares.
Eremo delle Carceri
A peacefully isolated church and monastery in the wooded slopes outside Assisi's walls, this was the first monastic home of St. Francis and his followers.
Duomo di San Rufino
Assisi's cathedral is dedicated to San Rufino, the bishop who first brought Christianity to the city. St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized here.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
This Baroque church incorporates the original classical facade of the Temple of Minerva, dating from the time of Christ.
Santa Maria degli Angeli
This grand Baroque basilica houses the small Porziuncola, a chapel restored by St. Francis and the place where St. Clare took her vows, as well as the humble cell in which St. Francis died.