"Straight out of the olden days" Assisi by fairy_dust
Assisi Travel Guide: 225 reviews and 665 photos
During my time in Italy for World Youth Day in Rome, my group went to visit Assisi for a day, before the WYD events started. Even though the festivities hadn't started yet, the place was full of other WYD pilgrims who had also planned to visit this little village.
We got up very early in the morning because the bus ride from Rome to Assisi would last about 3 hours. I didn't know much about Assisi or about St. Francis, but I overheard the girl who sat behind me on the bus talking about her anticipation to see the village. She is a die-hard tree-hugger (she's a vegetarian, and involved in lots of "save the earth" type of groups), and she mentionned that St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and nature. I thought that was interesting, and I learned more about St. Francis and his life when I got back home.
The village itself is small, and very old-fashioned, charming, and cute. There are lots of hills and cobblestone streets, and we saw a lot of Fransiscan monks walking around. Since it's very small, it's a great place for a day trip for anyone in northern or central Italy.
I returned to Italy in June 2007, and though I spent most of my time in Rome, I definitely wanted to visit Assisi again. Actually, what sealed my commitment was something that happened back home in Canada - I was shopping at the local Catholic bookstore a little while before heading out to Europe, and there was a basket there filled with slips of paper with saint names. I could pick a saint, and according to tradition, the saint actually chooses me because he/she wants to spend a year with me, so I must pray to that saint and learn about his/her life, writings, etc. I was totally expecting to get some obscure saint that I've never heard of, but when I got St. Clare of Assisi, my first thought was "I guess I'm going to Assisi then!" I had been thinking of visiting that charming little village but picking her name is what sealed my commitment.
When I returned to Assisi in June 2007, I took the train from Rome and stayed for the afternoon. The first thing I did was explore St. Francis Basilica, and since it wasn't as crowded as the first time I went, I was really able to explore it well. Plus, since I knew about this saint's life, I was able to appreciate everything so much more. I walked around the village after that and went to St. Clare basilica and prayed at her tomb. I also checked out a few other churches and chapels in the village, as well as a few gift shops (bought a book on the life of St. Clare in a basilica gift shop).
I also remember walking past a few chapels where nuns were singing, and seeing several franciscan monks. I chuckled when I saw one talking on a cell phone! Hehehe... a traditional-looking monk in a robe with a cord around the waist and a long beard, chatting on a cell phone!
There were a lot of visitors in the village that day (including a pilgrim walking barefoot from the St. Francis basilica) but the crowds weren't huge. I'm glad I got to return to Assisi and explore at my own pace without getting stuck in stuffy crowds. Definitely worth a visit!
The basilica of St. Clare is smaller and much simpler than the basilica of St. Francis, but it's still worth seeing. The... more travel advice
The basilica is definitely worth seeing, and is one of the biggest attractions in Assisi. The inside is absolutely... more travel advice
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