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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  Comune  —
Comune di Assisi
Panorama of Assisi

Coat of arms
Assisi is located in Italy
Location of Assisi in Italy
Coordinates: 43°04′33″N 12°37′03″E / 43.07583°N 12.6175°E / 43.07583; 12.6175Coordinates: 43°04′33″N 12°37′03″E / 43.07583°N 12.6175°E / 43.07583; 12.6175
Country Italy
Region Umbria
Province Perugia
Frazioni Armenzano, Capodacqua, Castelnuovo, Palazzo, Petrignano, Rivotorto, Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Vitale, Sterpeto, Torchiagina, Tordandrea, Tordibetto, Col d'Erba, Col d'Erba III, Collicello, Passaggio di Assisi, Pian della Pieve, Pieve San Nicolò, Podere Casanova, Ponte Grande, Renaiola, Rocca Sant'Angelo, San Damiano, San Gregorio, San Martino, San Martino Basso, San Presto, Santa Tecla, Tomba, Tombetta, Valecchie
 - Mayor Claudio Ricci
 - Total 186.8 km2 (72.1 sq mi)
Elevation 424 m (1,391 ft)
Population (30 April 2009)
 - Total 27,683
 Density 148.2/km2 (383.8/sq mi)
 - Demonym Assisani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 06081
Dialing code 075
Twin Cities
 - Ripacandida  Italy
 - Bethlehem  Palestine
 - San Francisco  United States
 - Santiago de Compostela  Spain
Patron saint Rufinus of Assisi
Saint day 11 August
Website Official website

Assisi (Italian pronunciation: [asˈsiːzi], from the Latin: Asisium) is a town and comune of Italy in province of Perugia, in the Umbria region and on the western flank of Monte Subasio.

It was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born in Assisi.



Around 1000 BC a wave of immigrants settled in the upper Tiber valley as far as the Adriatic Sea, and also in the neighborhood of Assisi. These were the Umbrians, living in small fortified settlements on high ground. From 450 BC these settlements were gradually taken over by the Etruscans. The Romans took control of central Italy by the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. They built the flourishing municipium Asisium on a series of terraces on Monte Subasio. Roman remains can still be found in Assisi: city walls, the forum (now Piazza del Comune), a theatre, an amphitheatre and the Temple of Minerva (now transformed into the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva).

In 238 AD Assisi was converted to Christianity by bishop Rufino, who was martyred at Costano. According to tradition, his remains rest in the Cathedral Church of San Rufino in Assisi.

The Ostrogoths of king Totila destroyed most of the town in 545. Assisi then came under the rule of the Lombards as part of the Lombard and then Frankish Duchy of Spoleto.

The thriving commune became an independent Ghibelline commune in the 11th century. Constantly struggling with the Guelph Perugia, it was during one of those battles, the battle at Ponte San Giovanni, that Francesco di Bernardone, (Saint Francis of Assisi), was taken prisoner, setting in motion the events that eventually led him to live as a beggar, renounce the world and establish the Order of Friars Minor.

The city, which had remained within the confines of the Roman walls, began to expand outside these walls in the 13th century. In this period the city was under papal jurisdiction. The Rocca Maggiore, the imperial fortress on top of the hill above the city, which had been plundered by the people in 1189, was rebuilt in 1367 on orders of the papal legate, cardinal Gil de Albornoz.

In the beginning Assisi fell under the rule of Perugia and later under several despots, such as the soldier of fortune Biordo Michelotti, Gian Galeazzo Visconti and his successor Francesco I Sforza, dukes of Milan, Jacopo Piccinino and Federico II da Montefeltro, lord of Urbino. The city went into a deep decline through the plague of the Black Death in 1348.

The city came again under papal jurisdiction under the rule of Pope Pius II (1458–1464).

Piazza del Duomo, 19th century

In 1569 construction was started of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. During the Renaissance and in later centuries, the city continued to develop peacefully, as the 17th-century palazzi of the Bernabei and Giacobetti attest.

Now the site of many a pilgrimage, Assisi is linked in legend with its native son, St. Francis. The gentle saint founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy. He is remembered by many, even non-Christians, as a lover of nature (his preaching to an audience of birds is one of the legends of his life).

Assisi was hit by two devastating earthquakes, that shook Umbria in September 1997. But the recovery and restoration have been remarkable, although much remains to be done. Massive damage was caused to many historical sites, but the major attraction, the Basilica di San Francesco, reopened less than 2 years later.

Main sights

Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and Other Franciscan Sites*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
State Party  Italy
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 990
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.


Other landmarks

The town is dominated by two medieval castles. The larger, called Rocca Maggiore, is a massive presence meant to intimidate the people of the town: it was built by Cardinal Albornoz (1367) and added to by Popes Pius II and Paul III. The smaller of the two was built much earlier, in the Roman era. However, not all of it stands, and only a small portion and three towers are open to the public.

UNESCO collectively designated the major monuments and urban fabric of Assisi as a World Heritage Site.

Pietro Lorenzetti fresco detail, Assisi Basilica, 1310–1329.


See also Art in Assisi

Assisi has had a rich tradition of art through the centuries and is now home to a number of well known artistic works.[1]

Artists Pietro Lorenzetti and Simone Martini worked shoulder to shoulder at Assisi. The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi includes a number of artistic works. Simone Martini's 1317 fresco there reflects the influence of Giotto in realism and the use of brilliant colors. Lorenzetti's fresco at the lower church of the Basilica includes a series of panels depicting the Crucifixion of Jesus, Deposition from the Cross, and Entombment of Christ. The figures Lorenzetti painted display emotions, yet the figures in these scenes are governed by geometric emotional interactions, unlike many prior depictions which appeared to be independent iconic aggregations. Lorenzetti's 1330 Madonna dei Tramonti also reflects the ongoing influence of Giotto on his Marian art, midway through his career.[2][3]


Festival Calendimaggio, held on May 1–5, is a re-enactment of medieval and Renaissance life in the form of a challenge between the upper faction and the lower faction of the town. It includes processions, theatrical presentations, flag-weavers and dances.

Assisi Embroidery is a form of counted-thread embroidery which has been practised in Assisi since the 13th century.

Today the town has many groups coming to enjoy the simple peace of St. Francis. One such group has restored an 11th-century room and added altars to the world's religions. Other organizations, such as Assisi Performing Arts, complement Assisi's tranquility with music and other cultural events.


Assisi was the home of several saints. They include:

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Assisi is twinned with:


External links

Wikisource-logo.svg "Asisium". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. 

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Assisi [1] is a small medieval town of about 25,000 people perched on a hill in Umbria, the heart of Italy. Famous as the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi holds religious, historical, and artistic significance. Periodical exhibits and fairs enrich the visitor's experience [2].

Get in

By car Take the A1 freeway and exit at the SS75. Follow the signs to historical Assisi and park in one of the public lots just outside the city walls.

By train You'll have to take a local connection at Terontola (coming from Florence) or Foligno (coming from Rome) to Assisi/Santa Maria degli Angeli. The station is at the bottom of the hill, about three miles from the center of town. Bus line "C" (ASSISI - P.ZZA MATTEOTTI-FS-P.ZZA GARIBALDI) will take you the rest of the way. [3]

Get around

Historical Assisi is very small and easily explored on foot. But go slowly, or the hilly streets will put you out of breath before you know it. During the hotter summer months take an occasional rest in one of the cool churches or enjoy an icecream break (or two).


Definitely take the time to walk among Assisi's medieval houses and shops. Most of the cobblestone streets and alleys will take you to the basilica of St. Francis. Please be quiet as you visit this multi-level structure as it still is a place of prayer for many. It's a good idea to rent the audio guide to appreciate the artistic and historical significance of this unique church. The walls and ceilings of the upper church are embellished with frescoes of the Giotto school; the lower sanctuary contains the tomb of St. Francis [4].

Lower Basilica of San Francesco
Lower Basilica of San Francesco


The basilica of St. Francis, completed in 1253, is only one of many beautiful churches in Assisi. The cathedral of San Rufino, the basilica of Santa Chiara, and the Chiesa Nuova are also worth a visit. Take the time to hike up to the top of the hill above Assisi and explore the castle - "La Rocca" - where Frederick Barbarossa spent his childhood. From here you can overlook the town and the valley below. Visit the tiny church of St. Stefano, go up a few stairs, and look back downwards for the most picturesque spot of this beautiful little town. The little church of San Damiano is located outside the walls of the city, halfway down the hill. According to the saint's biographers, it was here that St. Francis received his message "to rebuild the church."

  • Take a guided walking tour of Assisi, [5]. Take an escorted walking tour of Assisi with a fluent English-speaking Umbrian-native guide. mail:  edit


The many shops display a variety of local arts and crafts, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and reproductions of medieval weapons and tools. Embroidery and chocolate manufacuring are also typical of the area. Religious items are best purchased at the gift shop behind the lower level of St. Francis basilica.


There are several little ice cream and pizza shops. Restaurants vary from affordable to very expensive. Some are very good, some so-so.

  • Ostello della Pace Assisi, (Via di Valecchie, 177 - 06082 - Assisi), (00 39) 075/816767, [6].  edit
  • Casa Rosa (self-catering apartments in the country) [7]. Tel:+39 075802322
  • Hotel Berti is located on Piazza San Pietro [8]. Tel:+39 075813466
  • Magic Umbria Assisi [9] Phone: +39 0743 420130 mail: A selection of houses and apartments for holiday rentals.
  • Grand Hotel Assisi, [10]Grand Hotel Assisi is one of the region's leading hotels and enables guests to immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere that it is only possible to find in Assisi, from the splendid summit of its 500 meter-high location.

The Grand Hotel Assisi has 150 rooms and 6 suites. They are all equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV, mini-bar, and telephone with through line for fax and personal computers and a cable link to the hotel's congress centre, allowing guests to watch live broadcasts of conference events filmed by closed circuit television.

Get out

Santa Maria degli Angeli at the bottom of the hill - where the train station is. Visit the Basilica containing the Porziuncola, the tiny stone home of St. Francis and his followers, where the Saint died.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun




  1. A city in the province Perugia in the Central-Italian region Umbria



Proper noun


  1. The central-Italian city Assisi

Simple English

Assisi is a town in Italy, in the region of Umbria. Assisi on the western side of Mt. Subasio. It is the birthplace of St. Francis. St Francis is most famous for founding (beginning) a religious order of Friars (Brothers) called the Franciscan, in 1208. One of St Francis' followers, St. Clare was also born in Assisi and founded an order of religious women called the Poor Clares.

After St Francis, and St Clare died, churches were built in their honour. The Church of St Francis, called the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, is famous as his burial place, and is also famous for the fresco paintings on the walls and vaults (ceilings). Many visitors go to Assisi on pilgrimage. Many people also go there to see the artworks. Assisi is a World Heritage Site.



File:Assisi from
View of Assisi from the Rocca Maggiore fortress

Around 1000 BC, large groups of people settled in this area. These were the Umbrians. They lived in small fortified villages on high ground. From 450 BC the Umbrians villages were taken over by the Etruscans. Then the Romans took control of central Italy by the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. They levelled out some land in terraces (wide steps) and built a large town called Asisium on the side of Mount Subasio. This town became Assisi. Some buildings still can be seen from Roman times in Assisi. They include the walls, the main piazza, and the Temple of the Goddess Minerva, which is now a church called Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

In 238 AD all the people of Assisi became Christian, because of the teaching of Bishop Rufino. He was martyred. It is believe that his body is buried under the Cathedral Church of San Rufino in Assisi.

The Ostrogoths of king Totila destroyed most of the town in 545. Then Assisi was the ruled by the Lombards, who came from the north of Italy, and then by the Frankish rulers.

File:Assisi Piazza del Comune BW
The Piazza del Comune was once the Roman forum.

In the 11th century (1000s), Assisi became a free town. But there was constant fighting between two groups called the Ghibellines and the Guelphs. Assisi mainly supported the Ghibellines, but the nearest big town, Perugia, supported the Guelphs. During the battle of Ponte San Giovanni (St. John's Bridge), the Guelphs from Perugia managed to capture a young man from Assisi. His name was Francesco di Bernardone. It was partly because of his experiences when he was captured that young Francesco decided that he would change from being a soldier. When he returned to his father's house, he put away all his riches and became a poor, wandering preacher, telling people to turn to God and live in peace with each other. He worked with the poor and the outcast people. They had no church except a ruin. St. Francis and his friends rebuilt the tiny ruined church for the shepherds and other poor people to worship in. It is called the "Porziuncola". Francesco (Francis) founded the Order of Franciscans. He was "canonized" (made a saint) in 1228 and is known as St. Francis. He is one of the most popular saints.

A large basilica church was built on the side of the mountain, in honour of St Francis, and was beautifully decorated with scenes of his life. One of the most famous scenes shows the story of St. Francis preaching to the birds. In 1997 Assisi was hit by the two earthquakes. Part of the roof of the basilica fell in, killing four people who was standing below, and damaging the painted ceiling. Many people "made donations" (gave money) to repair the building which was reopened less than two years later.

Main sights

File:Assisi San Francesco BW
The Basilica of St. Francis showing the entrance to the Lower Church.


  • The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The Franciscan monastery, and the basilica of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization (being made a saint) in 1228, and completed 1253. The church is on three levels, called the Upper Church, the Lower Church and the crypt. St Francis is buried in the crypt.
In the Upper Church are frescos of scenes in the life of St. Francis. All the papers that belonged to the monastery were destroyed so no-one knows who the monks got to paint the frescoes. For many years, when the names of most other painters of that time were forgotten, people thought they must have been done by the famous artists Giotto. Very few art historians think this nowadays. Most art historians think they were done by a group of painters from Rome. Other people think that maybe Giotto planned the paintings and did perhaps one or two of them. Giotto's famous teacher, Cimabue did two enormous frescoes in the upper church, of the "Crucifixion" and "Deposition" (Jesus' body being taken down from the cross). These have been completely ruin by a fire.
File:San Francesco
Cimabue's famous Madonna and Child with St. Francis
The Lower Church has frescos by many late-medieval artists. One is a special and "unique" painting by Cimabue. It shows the Madonna and Child with angels and St Francis. Because Cimabue was quite old when he did this picture, people believe that he had seen St Francis and was able to paint a "real likeness" of him, not just an imaginary portrait, like many pictures of medieval saints.
In the lower church are pictures by Giotto, Simone Martini, and Taddeo di Bartolo. One picture that is just as famous as the Cimabue Madonna is the "Madonna of the Sunset". This beautiful fresco by Pietro Lorenzetti has a gold background. When the sun is setting, at certain times of the year, it shines through a door onto the painting and makes it blaze with light.
  • Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary the Greater), is the oldest church in Assisi.
  • The Cathedral of San Rufino (St. Rufinus), with a Romanesque façade with three rose windows and a 16th‑century interior. It is partly built over a Roman well.
  • The Basilica of Santa Chiara (St Clare) is a Gothis church begun in 1257. It contains the tomb of the saint and 13th‑century frescoes and paintings.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels). It is a large church 4 miles from Assisi. Inside is the "Porziuncola".

Other landmarks

The town has by two ancient castles. The oldest one was built by the Romans and is partly in ruins. The larger castle is called Rocca Maggiore. It was built by Cardinal Albornoz in 1367 and was added to by Popes Pius II and Paul III. UNESCO has made all the main monuments, the churches and the town of Assisi as a World Heritage Site.


Festival Calendimaggio is held from May 1st-5th. There are processions, theatre, flag-weavers and dance.

Assisi Embroidery is a type of counted-thread embroidery which has been practised in Assisi since the 13th century.

Today the town has many groups coming to enjoy the simple peace of St. Francis. One such group has restored an 11th century room and added altars to the world's religions. Pilgrims come from many countries to the Assisi East West Retreat Center in Piazza San Rufino in the spirit of St. Francis to sit and be in peace.


  • The Holy Cities: Assisi produced by Danae Film Production, distributed by HDH Communications (2006).

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