Visiting Assisi: what to do in Assisi in Umbria?
assisi

In this guide, I will introduce you to the most important tourist attractions in the city of St Francis and also describe what to visit in the surroundings of Assisi!

 

Assisi is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, known and appreciated all over the world. Its location is reminiscent of a typical medieval village, perched on a hill overlooking the valley. There are many breathtaking views and panoramas, all unforgettable.

The town has much to offer from a historical, cultural, artistic and religious point of view, having been the birthplace of St. Francis. Walking through its streets, you will have the opportunity to admire the monuments, breathe in the typical atmosphere of the place and above all try the local food and wine, a great excellence!

However, the surroundings of Assisi Italy are also worth a visit. There are charming villages such as Spello and Bevagna, or places like the Mount Subasio Park and the Clitunno Springs, perfect for nature lovers.

There are also beautiful monuments and wonderful typical dishes that will make you fall in love with these lands. To learn more, don’t waste time and keep reading! 😉

 

Visiting Assisi Italy: discover the Umbrian town!

What to see in Assisi? In the following paragraphs, I will take you on a discovery of the city of Saint Francis, showing you its most important monuments and dealing with the artistic, cultural, religious and gastronomic aspects.

In Assisi things to do are so much, but visiting Assisi also means exploring the amazing Umbrian territory in the nearby. So we will focus on some of the most significant tourist attractions near Assisi, such as enchanting villages or wonderful natural areas.

Whether it is a two-day tour or a romantic weekend, continue reading and you will have a clear idea of what to do in Assisi Italy and around the town, including nature, spirituality, food and wine. Let’s go! 👇

 

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Town of Assisi

Visiting Assisi is a must at least once in a lifetime. This medieval city can give emotions to anyone walking through its streets, thanks to its special atmosphere and its majestic monuments. The town is famous for being the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi, one of Italy’s patron saints, as evidenced by the Basilica of the same name.

In addition to the Basilica of St. Francis, there are many other attractions worth seeing, such as the Basilica of Saint Clare, the Temple of Minerva, the Pinacoteca Comunale, the Rocca Maggiore and many others. Now we are going to take a closer look at just a few of the buildings just mentioned.

Let’s start our journey by discovering one of the symbols of this city, or perhaps the symbol par excellence, the Basilica of St. Francis. Erected on 25 May 1230 in honour of the Saint, this splendid church is actually made up of two units, the upper basilica and the lower basilica. In the lower basilica there is a crypt containing the saint’s tomb, illuminated by an oil lamp donated each year by a different Italian region.

For art lovers, inside the two basilicas, there are works of art by important artists such as Simone Martini’s Stories of St Martin, Giotto’s Magdalene Chapel and Cimabue’s Crucifixion.

 

italy assisi

 

Remaining in the religious sphere, another important monument to see is the Basilica of Saint Clare, built immediately after her death. The church is in a Gothic-Umbrian style and houses the remains of the saint in a crypt.

The last spiritual building to mention is the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Porziuncola, built to protect some emblematic places in the life of St Francis of Assisi. In the basilica, you can see the Rose Garden and the Museum, with works of art by great artists such as Cimabue and Andrea della Robbia.

As I mentioned earlier, Assisi is able to give you emotions from every point of view. For nature lovers, there is no shortage of paths to take on foot, by bike or on horseback through the beautiful surrounding hills. Definitely worth a visit are the Woods of San Francesco, located at the base of the basilica of the same name and with the evocative “Third Paradise” by Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Finally, don’t miss the Eremo delle Carceri, a real jewel immersed in the woods where many of the stories linked to the life of Saint Francis of Assisi are believed to have taken place. You will have the opportunity to visit the grotto where he slept or the places where he retired to pray.

 

What to do in Assisi and surroundings

Assisi and its surroundings will give you unique emotions! If you don’t know how to get around Assisi, read on and let yourself be inspired by the picturesque villages and natural parks that I will now describe.

In this guide we will deal with the following aspects: history, culture, art, nature, food and wine. Don’t waste time and let yourself be conquered by Umbria!

 

1. SPELLO

What to see in and around Assisi? Let’s start our journey by talking about the most flowery village in Umbria, Spello. This fantastic little town is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is therefore well worth a visit. The town stands on a spur of Mount Subasio and is characterised by narrow streets, imposing monuments and beautiful churches.

Spello still retains the remains of a past history, of different cultures and eras, such as Roman, Lombard and Papal eras. Walking through its narrow streets you will have the chance to see the best preserved Roman fortified walls in Italy, not to mention the three beautiful gates to the village: Porta Venere, Porta Consolare and Porta Urbica.

 

spello

 

Definitely worth a visit is the 13th-century Church of St. Andrew, which houses a fresco by Dono Doni from 1565 and a crucifix of the Giotto school. But the true symbol of the structure remains the Madonna and Child by Pinturicchio.

Another very important building is the 12th century Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with works of art by Pinturicchio, such as the Baglioni Chapel, and Perugino.

We conclude with the wonderful Villa dei Mosaici, a Roman monumental complex with a mosaic floor of about 500 metres. Not to be missed!

As for local events, I recommend the Infiorata, an event held in May where true works of art are created using only flowers. The local food and wine offer includes bruschetta with truffles and pappardelle with hare sauce to be paired with an excellent Grechetto wine.

 

2. BEVAGNA

If you want to relax and breathe in a new, almost surreal atmosphere, you cannot miss a visit to Bevagna, an Umbrian jewel with a strongly medieval imprint and where time seems to have stopped. The historic centre is full of old craftsmen’s workshops, stone houses and cobbled alleyways that somehow blend in with the monuments the village has to offer.

 

visiting assisi
Flickr, Maurizio Paganin

 

The heart of Bevagna is Piazza Silvestri, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy thanks to the nineteenth-century fountain and the Roman column that stand out in its centre. The square is also overlooked by important buildings such as the twelfth-century Church of San Michele and the Church of San Silvestro.

Art lovers should not miss the wonderful Church of Santa Margherita, immersed in unspoilt nature and with an adjoining monastery.

As far as events are concerned, I recommend you visit this fantastic town in June when, thanks to the Mercato delle Gaite, some typical medieval trades are “reconstructed”, such as the paper mill, the silk mill, the waxworks and the painter! I will conclude by recommending typical local foods such as gnocchi al Sagrantino and rocciate. To drink, try a good Colli Martani DOC.

 

3. MONTEFALCO

Not sure what to do in Assisi Italy and around this amazing town? For nature lovers or food & wine lovers, I can only recommend Montefalco, a small medieval village surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.

 

montefalco
Flickr, Adriano Bonato

 

The town preserves its past at its best, as evidenced by the 13thcentury walls that still protect the town in some way, and the five gates of San Bartolomeo, Camiano, Sant’Agostino, Della Rocca and San Leonardo.

Buildings worth visiting include the Church-Museum of San Francesco, with important works of art by artists such as Benozzo Gozzoli and Perugino, and the Complesso di Santa Chiara, a true 13th-century architectural marvel. If you have time, it is also worth visiting the Church of Sant’Agostino, with its particular legend that is waiting to be discovered.

Walking through the historic centre, you will have the opportunity to breathe in a relaxed atmosphere while observing the famous main square and enjoying suggestive views over the surrounding valleys and villages. It is no coincidence that this town is nicknamed “the railing of Umbria”!

The local food and wine includes risotto alla Montefalchese and the famous Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG.

 

4. FOLIGNO

On the outskirts of Assisi Italy, abandoning for a moment the idea of a small village, you will find Foligno. Despite its size, this town still retains the medieval characteristics typical of the villages seen so far. However, Foligno is not only the Middle Ages but also the Renaissance and Contemporary Art, as can be seen from the many different tourist attractions that I will now describe.

The heart of Foligno is Piazza della Repubblica where, as the monument reminds us, St Francis stripped himself of all his possessions. The piazza is overlooked by the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo dei Podestà and the Palazzo Trinci, not forgetting the marvellous Duomo. The latter was built in the 12th century and features works of art by important artists such as Bernini. Unfortunately, due to the 2016 earthquake, the church was declared unfit for use.

One of the oldest churches in the city is instead the Church of Santa Maria Infraportas, a perfectly preserved jewel of Romanesque architecture.

Finally, I recommend you visit the former Church of the Holy Trinity. Inside there is a very suggestive and particular work of art created by the artist De Dominicis. The “Cosmic Magnet” is an enormous 24-metre human skeleton that has been perfectly reproduced and symbolises the connection between real life and spiritual life.

For nature lovers, there is a hamlet of Foligno known as Rasiglia, which is a real jewel of Umbria. It is a small mountain village built entirely around the water of the Capovena spring, so much so that it has been nicknamed “Little Venice of Umbria”. At one time, in fact, water was the basis of the culture of the area, which exploited it for mills and factories. Today Rasiglia is a very crowded destination because of its beauty, so much so that I recommend that if you want to relax walking through its fantastic landscapes, you visit it in the low season.

As far as events in Foligno are concerned, I recommend the Festival dei Primi d’Italia (Festival of Italian first courses) held at the end of September/beginning of October. It is a perfect opportunity to get to know the traditional local cuisine such as umbrichelli pasta with pork or game sauce, pasta al Rancetto and guinea fowl alla leccarda. To drink, why not try a glass of Rosso di Montefalco DOC.

 

5. TREVI

If you don’t know what to visit in and around Assisi, let us recommend one of the most beautiful villages in Italy: Trevi. This small village nestled among the green hills of Umbria is famous for its typical snail shape, which is easily seen when you approach to visit it.

The town retains the remains of the Roman and medieval periods, as evidenced by the 1st century city walls and the ancient gates to the village: Porta del Bruscito, Porta San Fabiano and the Arco del Mostaccio. The village has much to offer in terms of history, art, landscape, food and wine, and I will tell you about it now.

 

assisi things to do
Flickr, Henk Verheyen

 

The first stop must be the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime, about which there is an evocative legend that has made it a place of pilgrimage and prayer. Legend has it that one day, a painting of the Virgin Mary began to shed vermilion tears, leading to a series of different miracles. The famous painting is still present inside the building today. For art lovers, there are notable works of art by Perugino such as the Adoration of the Magi and the Chapel of the Magi.

Piazza Mazzini, located in the historic centre and a meeting point for tourists and locals alike, is a must-see. The symbol of the village remains the Civic Tower. But don’t forget a quick look at Casa Petrucci with a 16th century monochrome drawing depicting the myth of Actaeon.

If you love nature, near Trevi you can walk along suggestive paths that open up to breathtaking views and glimpses of the hills covered with olive groves that you will not easily forget. Olive oil is in fact a typical product of Trevi, as evidenced by the Museum of the Olive Civilization and the “Festivol” event held in autumn. The local food and wine offer includes brustengolo and crostini alla norcina to be paired with a Torrecandia Bianco DOC wine.

 

6. BETTONA

Bettona is a characteristic medieval village in Umbria that preserves its original layout in perfect condition. Lose yourself in its alleys and breathe in the typical relaxed atmosphere of the town, observing flowering balconies, ancient wells, monuments and churches. The historic centre is surrounded by medieval walls, but as you leave the walls you will be able to admire the olive groves and green woods of the Umbrian valleys.

 

assisi attractions
Flickr, Maurizio Paganin

 

Piazza Garibaldi is worth a visit, with a 19th-century fountain and an ancient 15th-century well. Near the square there is the Church of San Crispolto. If you are here, also visit Palazzo Podestà with important works by Perugino.

The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Bettona’s landmark church, is definitely worth a visit. If you love nature connected to history, don’t miss Villa del Boccaglione and the Etruscan Hypogeum.

The traditional local foods are lamb with black truffle and pasta with lamb ragout. To drink, I recommend a good Bettona IGT.

 

7. THE FONTI DEL CLITUNNO

Visiting Assisi and its surroundings does not only mean enchanting villages among beautiful hills, but also important natural parks. If you want to relax and breathe clean air, don’t miss these fantastic attractions.

 

visit assisi italy
Visit Assisi Italy – Flickr, Riccardo Cuppini

 

Near Foligno there is the first natural park I’m going to tell you about: a jewel set in unspoilt nature. The Fonti del Clitunno preserve the sources of River Clitunno, which come together to create an almost surreal scenario. The underground spring waters generate a small lake with unique colours, amplified by the clarity of the water. The flora and fauna are naturally very varied with weeping willows, poplars, trout and carp.

 

8. THE MOUNT SUBASIO PARK

The Mount Subasio Park is not only a nature reserve but a place where history, art and nature meet. The paths, which can be travelled on foot, by bike or on horseback, offer emotions for all age groups. In this unique atmosphere, you will have the opportunity to relax and recover your energy in the best possible way.

 

Travel & discover the top Assisi attractions!

My guide to visiting Assisi and the surrounding area has come to an end.

I hope it has convinced you to travel to one of these destinations. With Italia Delight, you can choose one of the most suitable experiences for you or, if you need it, customise it with the Local Expert according to your needs.

What are you waiting for? Book it! 😍

 

About Author

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Matteo Panella
Ciao, sono Matteo Panella! Sono un giovane ragazzo romano di 22 anni, appassionato allo sport e al mondo del cibo e della cucina, attualmente iscritto alla facoltà di Scienze e Culture Enogastronomiche dell’Università Roma Tre.

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