Strolling in Assisi


Assisi, home of St. Francis, is an ancient Etruscan city set high on a hill for a very good reason.  In olden days the hills in the area were surrounded by water and swamps and mosquitoes and malaria.  The Etruscans were no dummies -- they knew it would be easier to stay healthy if they built Assisi high above the swamps.  In later years, of course, as the city grew, it expanded down the hill.  So as we walked up the hill into the city, we walked back in time.

The leaning tower of Assisi.  Or maybe it's just the leaning camera.

St. Francis had a great view.

We never made it up to that medieval castle on the hill.  Everybody'd strolled enough by this time, I think.  Besides, the walkway to the castle looked practically vertical.

The fellow in the green shirt and funny hat is our local guide.  Nice guy.

From on top of the hill we could look down the other side and see the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

This is St. Clara's Church.  She's buried in there.  In Spanish she's Santa Clara.

There's a lone nun sitting by the fountain.  At one point a whole flock of nuns passed by and Claudia began singing, "Dominique."  I have no idea why.

St. Clara came from a wealthy family that was upset with her decision to become a nun and join St. Francis.  So when St. Clara's sister, Agnes, decided to run off to join St. Francis too, it was more than the family could bear.  They dispatched guards to grab Agnes and bring her home.  But a miracle occurred, and the guards found Agnes too heavy to lift.  So the guards turned back, and Agnes went on to become St. Agnes of Assisi.  She's buried in that church, in a very large tomb.  Sure, go ahead, roll your eyes, but I did not make this up.  We had a very educational trip.

Still walking uphill.  The town gets older.

There were lots of religious souvenir shops along the way.  Pilgrims come from all over the world to buy these tacky little items.

But they had no Elvis coffee mugs.

Now that's what I call strolling.

At the top of the hill we found a pagan temple to Minerva that long ago had been converted into a church.

Here is an interesting fresco on the ceiling of an archway in the center of the city.  Our guide asked us to guess the age of the artwork.  The key is in the turkeys and the tobacco.  Obviously this was painted after the discovery of the New World.

Steep alleys.  Excellent views.

And a beautiful old fountain.  Assisi is a charming little town.  Steep, but charming.

There's a closer view of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.  Sid told me that St. Francis is famous because he talked to frogs.  Well, that's what Sid told me.  I think there may be more to it than that, though.

Another nice view from up on the hill.