Last Friday I took a day trip to Assisi, a small town in the Umbria region, with my program. Assisi is not too far from Perugia, meaning you can actually see it if you look out into the countryside from the top of the city. Like Perugia, Assisi is also positioned on a big hill; however, it isn’t lucky enough to have escalators (yes, Perugia has escalators outside). Assisi is a beautiful mix of winding medieval streets with old Roman structures. It’s one of those places where every corner you turn you just need to get another photo because it was cuter than the last street. Even the doors were so precious and I couldn’t control myself so I snapped more photos shamelessly. Below I’ve posted some of my fanatic photos.
Assisi is famous because it was the birthplace of San Francesco, a really important figure in the history of the Catholic Church. For the past couple of weeks we have been learning all about St. Francis and his life because he had a lot of influence in the Umbria region in general(where both Perugia and Assisi can be found). For those of you who have no idea who St. Francis is (I had no clue either), I’ll lay it all out for you.
I’ll start out by saying that the current Pope took the name of St. Francis so this guy is pretty important. He was born in Assisi in the late 1100s to a really wealthy merchant family. When he reached adulthood he decided that he no longer wanted to be rich, but that he wanted to be poor, so he gave up all of his belongings including the clothes on his back. Naturally, his father was angry and his family basically disowned him, which is quite sad in my opinion. St. Francis lived the rest of his life preaching religion and living as a poor man. In 1210, he founded the Franciscan order and since then he and his life story have been extremely important in the history of Catholicism.
While in Assisi we were able to see many of the famous landmarks and buildings, and of course we saw the Basilica of St. Francis d’Assisi. What’s funny about this Basilica is that it is HUGE and beautiful. It was built about 100 years after St. Francis’ death and must have cost a fortune. For being built in such a small town like Assisi, this Basilica is just over the top. The planners of this Basilica must have been out of their minds because St. Francis’ entire legacy was about loving to be poor and enjoying the simple things in life. This basilica is not simple and it definitely is not a symbol of poverty. In any case, it is a very beautiful building and many famous painters, for example Giotto, have left their mark inside.
Enough about religion. My favorite part of Assisi was the main piazza. It had all sorts of cute shops and restaurants. I just couldn’t resist and I was very adamant that we get lunch at one of the cute restaurants. We stopped at a little wine shop that had amazing gourmet sandwiches and I was satisfied. Below is a video of my view at lunch along with my sassy friends. Another really cool thing about this piazza was that you could actually walk underneath it and see its original Roman structure. It’s always so strange to think that since the Roman times a lot of Italian cities have been raised from years of rebuilding.
The most beautiful view in Assisi was looking out at the countryside and seeing the buildings cascade down the city’s hill. I decided on this day that only this type of beauty exists in Italy, and I’m oh so lucky to be able to experience it. To sum it up I’m going to throw a really corny quote out there; “To travel is to live.” –Hans Christian Andersen