237 Visit to Assisi

panorama-assisi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The rose window.

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Detail of the Basilica facade – A carved lion.

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A wonderful lion that guards in the square in front of the cathedral.

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Some views of the town of Assisi from the square.

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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.

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The fountain in Piazza Comune.

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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.

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The Town Hall.

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As we continued our way downhill there were so many things of interest to catch one’s eye.

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Eventually we found our way the Basilica of San Francesco.

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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.

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Detail of the facade of the Basilica di San Francesco.

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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.

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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.

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As we walked back to the car our lovely day was blessed with a beautiful sunset.

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May peace be with you.

All photos except where indicated are by me © Louise Shapcott

 (Note: photos marked with * are in public domain)

#assisi #StFrancesOfAssisi #umbria #italy #basilica #StClare

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

 

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185 – Itri’s Medieval Festival

itri medieval festival

During the summer months the population of Itri swells with holiday visitors and as families that emigrated abroad return to their beloved home town.  Many come to attend Itri’s July festival which is held in honour of its patron, “La Madonna della Cività”.

Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

The festival always culminates in a splendid firework display which emanates from the magnificent castle that dominates the old medieval quarter.

Fireworks at Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

During July and August Itri holds a whole host of events and this year we ventured to see the “Festa Medievale” which was also held up in the old historic part of town.  We arrived early, however the streets were already jammed with cars heading for the festival, and parking spaces were at a premium.  So we decided to park in the lower part of town and continue by making our way on foot.

Itri Castle in Latina South Lazio Italy

The old town is a warren of narrow cobble stone streets, archways, gates and stairways.  It is full of interesting nooks and crannies, there is something of interest around every corner.

Historic old town of Itri in Latina South Lazio Italy

Old Door in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Old Balcony in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Alleyway in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Bell Tower of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Itri

Detail of the Bell Tower of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore

In the main square traditional games had been set up to entertain the children.

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Latina South Lazio Italy

By the castle there was a display of falconry with live birds of prey – Such exquisite creatures.

Falconry Display at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Hawk at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Barn Owl at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Owl at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

As we wandered through the narrow alleyways amongst the jostling crowd we came across local folk dressed in Medieval costumes, acting as feudal lords, courtiers, swordsmen, archers, flag throwers and street musicians.

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Costumes at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Flag Thrower Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Musicians at Medieval Festival Itri Italy

There were also stalls selling traditional gastronomic delights and arts and crafts …..

Medieval Festival Itri Italy

and an exhibition of gruesome implements of torture.

Rack of Torture Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Chair of Torture Medieval Festival Itri Italy

Skeleton at Medieval Festival in Itri Italy

The authentic atmosphere of Itri’s historic old town was just perfect for such an event and I think an enjoyable evening was had by all.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#Itri #Italy #MedievalFestival #castle

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

100 – Itri The Old Historic Centre

Late in the afternoon on Sunday we decided to take a stroll.  We drove down and parked near the old historic centre of Itri.  From here we began to explore on foot the many nooks and crannies of the old town that we hadn’t investigated previously, despite this being our fifth year here in Itri.

It was really pleasant to ramble through the narrow streets, alleyways, stairways and arches in the warm early evening sun. On this occasion I think we’ll let the pictures do the talking,

as they say  “A Picture Paints a Thousand Words”…

As we descended into the lower part of Itri, it soon became apparent that something was afoot.  A crowd had gathered in the square in front of the Church of La Vergine Annunziata. A friend came over to greet us and explained that shortly a procession would take place, to officially mark the end of the feast of the Madonna Della Cività, with the taking down of her beautiful banner. The band players began to tune up and soon the procession set off on its way, carrying the banner of San Rocco.

Many of the townsfolk of Itri joined in the religious procession as it streamed down the Via Farnese.  It came to a halt when it arrived at the centre of town, in Piazza Incoronazione, where traditionally the beautiful banner of the Madonna Della Cività is suspended.  The priest offered some prayers and then the banner of the Madonna was carefully and ceremoniously lowered.

See our earlier posts about

Itri’s Feast of La Madonna Della Cività.

66 – Feast of the Madonna Della Civita (part one)

67 – Feast of the Madonna Della Civita (part two)

68 – Feast of the Madonna Della Civita (part three)

Visit Our South Lazio Webpages for more information about Bella Itri

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

93 – The Gardens of Ninfa

Back at the beginning of April we were invited by our English friends, Clive and Marilyn from Gaeta, to accompany them on a visit to the Gardens of Ninfa.  This was a place that I had longed to visit for some time, so we didn’t hesitate to accept their kind offer.

We arrived at Ninfa, at the foot of the Lepini Mountains, at around 10 am and to my surprise there were a number of people already there, queuing to purchase entrance tickets, and for the first guided tour of the day.  Our Guide was very knowledgeable about the history of  Ninfa but only spoke in Italian.

It seems that during the Medieval era, Ninfa was a thriving town, sited along the Via Pedemontana which linked Rome with Naples.  Over the years the main route, the Roman road the Via Appia, had become impassable through the marshy Pontine wetlands. At Ninfa a toll gate was instigated which brought the town significant prosperity.

At the end of the 1200’s Pope Boniface VIII purchased the town, and made a gift of it to his nephew. Under the rule of the Caetani family the town prospered and expanded, with the construction of a castle, several churches, a town hall, bridges and numerous dwellings, which were all fortified by a double town wall.

However turbulent times were to follow with the rise to power of the French King Philip IV, who sought to raise money to finance his wars by taxing the clergy. Pope Boniface issued a decree claiming total papal supremacy, indicating that kings were subordinate to the power of the Church. A long political battle ensued, however Philip was eventually the victor, Pope Boniface was arrested and a new French Pope was installed in his place. This consequently lead to a huge split within the Catholic church and even within the members of the Caetani family itself. In 1382 two Caetani heirs began a feudal war against each other. Thus Ninfa came under repeated attacked until it was finally overrun and razed to the ground.  The few remaining survivors were eventually to be driven out by the plague and by malaria which in those times infested the nearby Marshes.

It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that a descendant of the Caetani family rediscovered Ninfa and began to drain the site, and subsequently over three generations, it was transformed into a beautiful romantic English style garden.

When the last descendant of the Caetani’s passed away, the garden was bequeathed to the Roffredo Caetani Foundation which now runs the site in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund. http://www.fondazionecaetani.org/index.php

Ninfa  is an oasis of peace where a profusion of fragrant climbing roses, jasmine and honeysuckle scramble over the Medieval architectural remains.

Through the 21 acre estate runs the Ninfa River which at one point has been dammed to form a beautiful lake.  A series of little cascades and watercourses have also been created to help maintain the lush greenery of this delicate eco-system.  There are numerous varieties of flowering trees, shrubs and flowers, indeed the garden contains botanical specimens gathered from all over the world including: magnolias; wisterias; camellias; bamboo; hydrangeas; irises and lilies to name but a few.

The protected reserve provides a habitat rich in fauna as well as flora.

Near to the ancient castle is a wonderful long established grove of citrus fruit trees.

Countless picturesque vistas open up around each and every twist and turn of the meandering path which leads you through the garden.  Through the course of the year the colours of the landscape gradually change as one season passes to another.

Click here for more information about the Giardini di Ninfa

The Gardens can only be seen on a guided tour.

Opening Times:

Note – The opening times are extremely limited  and it closes for a couple of hours at lunchtime.

From April to October it is generally open on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month, and the third Sunday of April, May and June.

Times of opening are 0900 -1200 and 14.30 – 1800

except for July and August when the afternoon openings are from 1500 to 18.30.

After our tour of Ninfa we headed for the nearby Medieval hill-top town of Sermoneta.

* photo by pensierolaterale

Here Clive and Marilyn have a favourite little restaurant near the castle, curiously named “Ghost”.

Clive, Marilyn and Paul

Paul and I resolved to soon return to Sermoneta

to further explore this picturesque historic town.

For more information about this beautiful area of South Lazio

please take a look at our

SOUTH LAZIO WEBSITE

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* photo by pensierolaterale (wikipedia)

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy