Visiting Assisi is a journey into the heart of Umbria and a highly recommended must-take excursion for any Italy traveler — if the time allows for it. Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Umbria (a region also known as “the other Tuscany”, Assisi stands as a testament to faith, art, and history, inviting travelers to step into a world where every cobblestone tells a story. As seasoned wanderers who’ve traversed the globe and relished the allure of destinations far and wide, we find ourselves continuously drawn back to the serene beauty of Assisi. It’s a place we’ve explored time and again, uncovering its layers and secrets, and it’s with a blend of excitement and reverence that we share a glimpse into this enchanting city.
A Peaceful Path: Arriving in Assisi
The journey to Assisi is as mesmerizing as the destination itself. For those venturing from Rome, Florence, or other Italian cities, the train offers a scenic route into the heart of Umbria. Trains glide through the picturesque countryside, with changes typically at Terontola or Perugia, leading travelers to the small station of Assisi. From there, a short bus ride up the hill whisks visitors into the historic center, where the essence of tranquility begins to unfold.
A Tale of Two Basilicas: The Legacy of St. Francis in Assisi
Stepping into the Basilica of St. Francis, you’re not just entering a religious monument but a realm where art, history, and spirituality intertwine seamlessly. The basilica, a dual structure comprising the Upper and Lower churches, serves as a beacon of peace and an artistic masterpiece that has inspired pilgrims and art enthusiasts alike for centuries.
The Upper Basilica: A Celestial Gallery
The Upper Basilica, completed in the early 13th century, is a soaring testament to Gothic brilliance. Its walls and ceilings are adorned with frescoes by medieval masters, including Giotto and Cimabue, depicting the life of St. Francis and scenes from the Bible. The vibrant colors and emotive storytelling invite visitors to gaze upwards, as if drawn to the heavens, in a silent dialogue with the divine.
The Lower Basilica: An Intimate Embrace
Descending into the Lower Basilica, the ambiance shifts to a more intimate setting, where the air seems imbued with contemplation and prayer. The lower church, older and more subdued, houses the sacred tomb of St. Francis. Here, amidst the dimly lit chapels, adorned with frescoes by renowned artists like Pietro Lorenzetti, visitors find a quiet space for reflection, away from the world’s hustle and bustle.
Beyond the Basilica: Experience the Spirit of Assisi
Assisi, however, is more than its basilicas. It’s a mosaic of charming streets, hidden corners, and panoramic vistas that offer glimpses of the Umbrian countryside. Each visit reveals new secrets, from the tranquil beauty of the Rocca Maggiore to the serene simplicity of the Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Make sure to get a little lost as you stroll away from the major sights and leave the tourist crowds behind. It’s in those smaller, tucked-away alleys where you get a glimpse of everyday life in this charming Umbrian village. You’ll find beautifully decorated window sills, some of the entryways may be covered in flower pots, others have balconies overflowing with plants. Walk slowly so you don’t scare the resident cats away. And don’t forget to look up, behind you, or take a closer look at the cobble stones. Taking an uphill road will reward you with panoramic views and again, an insider’s perspective into one of Italy’s most charming villages were time can stand still even on today.
As we share these insights, we hold back some of our most cherished discoveries, reserving them for our Inside Europe travelers. It’s these hidden gems, known only to those who wander with us, that transform a journey into an unforgettable tapestry of experiences.
Your Invitation to Wander and Linger Longer
We invite you to wander through Assisi, not just as tourists, but as true travelers, seeking the stories and whispers that echo through its streets and sanctuaries. Our journeys are crafted from personal adventures and a deep love for the places we visit, ensuring that each moment spent with us is imbued with meaning and wonder. We highly recommend staying overnight, too — or at least make your visit to Assisi and Umbria as long as possible. There’s so much to see, do and eat. Plus local artisan stores with incredible and also delicious edible souvenirs. But more about that in another one of our insider travel stories. If you’re curious to learn more, we recommend the official website for Umbria as an excellent Assisi resource.
To summarize: In Assisi, and in every destination we explore, our mission at Inside Europe Travel Experience remains the same: to move beyond the ordinary, offering paths less traveled for a truly immersive and soul-stirring experience. So talk to your family, friends, and colleagues. Ask them to join you and us for an extraordinary and highly unique Italy vacation. Together, we’ll let your next Italian journey unfold: centered around your passions and traveling your way.