As we drove through the greenery of the Umbrian countryside we caught our first glimpse of the ancient city of Assisi perched high on a hill. Once again the weather was being so kind to us as it was a beautiful sunny Autumn day. We drove up the winding road to the town and quickly found a place to park just outside of the historic medieval centre.
The Church and Convent of Santa Chiara.
We walked through one of the three arched gateways and into the Piazza di Santa Chiara. Santa Chiara was one of the first followers of San Francesco of Assisi, and founded the Poor Sisters, which later became the Order of the Poor Clares.
After her death in 1254 construction work commenced on the Basilica dedicated to her name, which was to house her remains. It is built of pink and white stone.
The rose window.
Detail of the Basilica facade – A carved lion.
A wonderful lion that guards in the square in front of the cathedral.
Some views of the town of Assisi from the square.
We wandered downhill through the narrow streets and alleys which were lined with bars and restaurants, interspersed with interesting little shops selling ceramics, leather bags, books, tradition embroidery, books and local food delicacies. Then there were, of course, the numerous shops selling rosaries, religious trinkets and souvenirs.
The fountain in Piazza Comune.
In this square stands the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which incorporates the well preserved Roman temple of Minerva, the the goddess of wisdom.
The Town Hall.
As we continued our way downhill there were so many things of interest to catch one’s eye.
Eventually we found our way the Basilica of San Francesco.
Assisi was the birthplace of St Francis in 1181, a humble man who renounced his wealth and possessions in order to devote his life to helping the needy. He also founded the Francescan Order of Friars and became the patron saint of animals, with which he had a great affinity.
Detail of the facade of the Basilica di San Francesco.
The construction of this basilica began two years after the death of St Francis in 1226. It is an important place of religious pilgrimage.
The interior is beautifully decorated with colourful frescoes depicting stages of the St Francis’ life. These are the work of some of the best known artists of the late 13th and early 14th centuries, such as Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti.
In the crypt there is the stone sarcophagus of St. Francis.
“Pace e Bene” is a form of greeting that was used by St Francis and St Clare
meaning Peace and Goodness.
As we walked back to the car our lovely day was blessed with a beautiful sunset.
May peace be with you.
All photos except where indicated are by me © Louise Shapcott
(Note: photos marked with * are in public domain)
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