There is the Assisi everyone knows, a glittering town which cannot fail to take your breath away. The home of St. Francis and one of the most important places for Christans across the world. A place which defeated the rigours of a huge earthquake. A magnificent basilica, exquisite churches and piazzas. Elaborate ice cream parlours and numerous shops selling everything from embroidered dresses and aprons to crucifixes and rosaries.
There are also the crowds of tourists!
Then there is the hidden Assisi, the real living town, the part most visitors miss. The quiet, shaded streets lined with quaint houses, pretty gardens and tiny bars. People sat outside houses chatting or sewing. Children playing. Teenagers gathering.
I love both!
Let’s face it, Assisi attracts so many tourists because it IS so magnificent and there are so many incredible monuments, works of art, views and attractions that you would be plain stupid not to experience them!
Even though I long ago ceased being a ‘tourist’ here and Assisi has become just another place to meet friends or shop or go out for a meal, I nearly always walk to the Basilica della San Francesco because it continues to fill me with awe and wonder and I still marvel at the amazing architecture and murals.
Assisi is the most magical of towns and one which needs to be lingered over. To be explored. To be experienced in the cool of the morning before the crowds and in the evening when a magnificent sunset bathes the basilica in a golden light. To wander through its mellow streets late on a summer evening with soft music and delicious aromas permeating from hidden trattorias. I would even suggest that one simply wanders on a first visit to capture the atmosphere before engaging in any serious sight-seeing.
There is no need to be part of an organised tour. In fact I can’t think of anything worse than being walked round this exquisite place in a group and being subjected to the regurgitations of a guide! Read up a little first then enjoy and don’t be afraid of deviating from the main routes.
There is another side to Assisi when you leave the churches and tourists and shops behind. The place people live and work and play.
Just turn of any Main Street and climb up the winding stepped streets into the old town and you will find the most charming streets lined with quaint houses and quiet, friendly bars frequented ny locals and serving inexpensive food and drinks.
Assisi is much bigger than one thinks! Much more diverse and offers so much.
If you walk out of the old town through the wonderful Cappucini Gate you will be afforded spetacular views across the countryside and the opportunity to walk out onto the Subasio mountains, where paths lead through dense woods to villages and the beautiful adjacent town, Spello.
But that’s a post for another day!
View from the woods outside the Cappucini Gate
View of the Rocca…definitely worth a visit ….. and another post to come!