Five of Assisi’s best historical attractions

11th May, 2016
Assisi is one of Umbria’s most well-known cities, extremely popular among tourists due to its famous connection to St Francis as well as its stunning architecture influenced by a number of eras and cultures. With our Assisi villas in incredible locations nearby, this medieval city makes for a perfect day out, where you leisurely wander the streets and take in the impressive landmarks, as well as shop for authentic goods and souvenirs and dine at one of the many authentic family restaurants. If you’re planning on visiting Assisi during your stay, here’s five of the attractions you need to visit.

Basilica of St Francis

A vast 13th century building now awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the Basilica of St Francis is Assisi’s most notable landmark, with the crypt of the basilica’s namesake, St Francis, making up part of the building. Visiting the Basilica is therefore a religious pilgrimage for some, though the building is also extremely impressive, demonstrating centuries of history and hard work. You can explore both the upper and lower basilicas, which contain within them smaller chapels such as the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene. An audio guide is highly recommended, as it reveals even more information about every corner of this fascinating religious building.

Basilica di Santa Chiara and the monastery

The 13th century was a prolific time for the people of Assisi, as the Basilica di Santa Chiara was also built during this period. Boasting a stunning façade, made from seemingly glowing pink and white stones, the interior is extremely impressive, with a number of colourful frescoes and paintings adorning the walls. The basilica itself honours the daughter of an important nobleman, St Clare, who is actually buried in a crypt here.

Temple of Minerva

Dating from the Roman era, the Temple of Minerva is at least 2000 years old and is one of Assisi’s best preserved landmarks from ancient times. Characterised by six towering stone columns as well as an impressive flight of steps, the temple was also given a further Baroque flair in the 17th century, when it was converted into the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Close by, there are also a number of other attractions well worth a visit, including the Piazza del Commune, Municipal Tower and the Palazzo Priori.

Cathedral of San Rufino

Though it was first built in the 13th century, the Cathedral of San Rufino is also an impressive example of how much the Romans influenced the architecture in this area, with ancient Roman remains still standing on the site alongside the main attraction. In the 16th century, it was remodelled with further features added to it, and today boasts rose windows, animals and figures which adorn the exterior, and a fountain, said to have been the place of baptism for both St Clare and St Francis.

Roman Forum

If you already have plans to visit the Piazza del Commune and soak up the buzz, you’ll also discover a pleasant surprise in the form of the archaeological remains of a Roman forum. Dating back to the first century, the remains lie below the Piazza and can be accessed via a number of passages, stemming from the Museum Civico. An increasing number of shops are also letting visitors into their basements, where they can peer through into the ancient wonders that have been hidden beneath the square.

Image: Roberto Ferrari, available under Creative Commons