Assisi

Picture of map_assisi Mentioned in more detail on the Vatican web page, these maps are from the Vatican Museum's map room.
Picture of assisi The town of Assisi is sprawled across the lower flank of Mount Subasio and might well be a popular tourist attraction even without its ties to St. Francis. You'll never know though because St. Francis permeates just about everything in this town.
Picture of complex The parking areas begin several kilometers from town and are clear evidence of how crowded the city can get during religious festivals. We showed up in late afternoon of a completely inconspicuous day and parked in the closest lot to the basilica (from whence this picture was taken). The view from town back across the value is equally good. On a clear day, Perugia is supposedly visible to the west. It was a bit hazy during our visit though.
Picture of courtyard The Basilica of St. Francis is the major attraction here and is actually a complex of multiple churches on top of one another, plus an attached monastery. The vaulted ceiling of the cathedral partially collapsed during a 1997 earthquake. Much of the damage has been repaired but some sections were still closed (or maybe permanently closed). Pictures are not allowed inside so you'll have to suffice on external views.
Picture of us The lower church includes a rather fascinating crypt section where St. Francis is buried along with several of his closest friends. They left the column of earth he was buried in intact and built the crypt around his grave which is a bit morbid really but definitely a unique architectural tactic.
Picture of stairs Lisa and Mike pose on the stairs up to the upper church.
Picture of street Assisi itself is full of interesting curving narrow streets that are unfortunately lined with souvenir shops selling the tackiest St. Francis memoribilia imaginable. Byzantine crucifixes are popular as well since one spoke to St. Francis (as the legend goes). Thanks to the Canticle of the Creatures, animal-related souvenirs are rampant as well.
Picture of fort Up on the hill above town is Rocca Maggiore, an impressive-looking fortress that was closed to the public during our visit. In the foreground there is a topiary Tau associated with the basilica. We're not sure what else to say about that except that internet searches for the phrase 'topiary Tau' are almost certainly going to only return this page.
Picture of unesco_sign

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