After Rome, we took the train up to Assisi. From the train station, a bus takes visitors to the top of a hill where a ruined castle stands guard over this quaint little village. Upon entering, I realized that this is the place that I had been searching for during my entire trip. It is the quintessential Italian town. The streets are narrow and winding and lead to all sorts of neat surprises. Churches and bells abound, and local artisans sell their one-of-a-kind wares in well-kept shops. Best of all, Assisi is clean, graffiti free, and full of friendly people.
Assisi is home to St. Francis, a friar who lived simply, frugally and with love for all mankind. It is by example that he taught those around him, and there is something simple, humble and loving to the town of Assisi. The Basilica Di Franscesco is beautiful, and like all the churches in Italy, it contains wonderful artwork. Like the man himself, the church named after St. Francis is simple in form and decoration. This is especially noticeable, having just seen the extravagance of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Assisi is a hilly town, so wear good walking shoes when exploring. This town has some of the best artisan shopping around. Items made from olive tree wood, handcrafted shoes, bath and soap items and hand embroidery can all can be found here–and at reasonable prices too. If you’ve been saving up your money, this is the place to drop your euros.
Assisi overlooks the Umbrian Valley, and the views are gorgeous. We stayed at Hotel Minerva a wonderful bed and breakfast place that is above a restaurant. Our windows opened onto this view:
Late one afternoon, we stopped at a bar and went wine tasting. Our Romanian sommelier was down to earth and friendly as she enthusiastically told us about the fresh Italian cheeses, meats, and breads that were accompanying the bottles of wine we had ordered. We sat outside in an alleyway, and watched as a mother pigeon bought food and straw to her babies in a nest high above. It was quiet, as most of the tour buses had left for the day, and I got a real neighborly feel for the place. Assisi is like Cinque Terre, in that it is a great place to slow down and relax and take in all the beauty that surrounds you.