Assisi  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.
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.
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 .
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."
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.
* Trattoria degli Umbri. Simple home style recently renovated restaurant, central location. Piazza del comune 40, closed Thu. Tel 075 812455 * Il Baccanale, Assisi centre, Via del Comune vecchio 2, near the Piazza Matteotti parking lot. A beautiful wine shop offering wines from all over Italy, exotic coffee, sweets and preserves.
In Santa Maria degli Angeli:
* Ristorante Basilica, reliable family business well known among locals, delicious fried appetizer, pizza available for dinner. Via Protomartiri Francescani 11, opposite the apse of church, closed Tue. Tel. 0758044491,. * ♥ Terra Umbra, the best gourmet shop for all Umbrian foods. Offers olive oil tasting, chocolate, cheese, cured meats, truffles. Pick up your picnic stuff here. Via Patrono d’Italia 10.
* The Sportoletti winery offers lovely reds, a basic Assisi Rosso and their famous Villa Fidelia. It’s on the way from Assisi to Spello through the hamlets of Viole and Capitan Loreto Mon-Sat. 8:00-13:00 14:30-17:30
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.
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.
Walk (or take a taxi or drive) the 4 km to Eremo delle Carceri, an hermitage in a steep mountaing gorge east of Assisi, where St Francis came to pray and contemplate in the 13th century.