Author: Mrs A
Location: Assisi, Umbria, Italy
Tuesday: While sad to leave Lago Trasimeno, we were keen to see some more of the area before we were due in La Marche on the eastern side of Italy. We decided to head to Assisi. Mr A was originally reluctant, claiming it was ‘too much about religion’, but given the whole town is a UNESCO world heritage site, I felt it was a location not to be missed.
It was a short hour’s drive and we were soon pulling up at a relatively new sosta outside a motorhome owning farmer’s house. What a view of Assisi it had!
We were also excited when a little ginger kitten came bounding up to greet us, six month old Esther is an Italian camping-cat!
We wasted no time in getting out the ebikes and heading up the steep hill into town.
As we rode up through the streets, very thankful for the electric motors helping us on our way, we passed a whole mixture of stone archways, pillars and building styles from throughout the ages.
At the very top of the hill there sits a fortification, the Rocca Maggiore, more than 800 years old. The views from here are fabulous, looking across the patchwork valley of Tescio. The castle has been built, pillaged, restored again and again in its history – it’s in pretty good nick these days but we didn’t go in.
The settlement of Assisi has been populated for thousands of years, with evidence dating back to 1,000 BCE when the Umbrians lived on the hill top in a small fortified settlement. The Etruscan civilisation took over around 450 BCE, introducing architecture heavily influenced by the Greeks, and then 295 BCE was when the Romans took over central Italy.
You may have heard of Saint Frances of Assisi? He was canonised in the 1200s, born and buried in Assisi and is co-patron-saint of Italy along with Saint Catherine of Siena. Pilgrims still flock to the town, and we saw several monks in long brown robes strolling the streets.
There are indeed a lot of churches in Assisi, containing magnificent frescoes and paintings by famous Italian artists. But churches aside, the history and architecture is fascinating, often intermingled through the ages.
We made our way gradually through the streets, exploring nooks and crannies and stopping to try some local produce – some delicious Umbrian wine, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Love the sign outside Francesco’s shop: ‘Please come in and taste now the best olive oils and balsamic vinegar, Later you will not feel like walking up again. Don’t miss this chance.’
The most famous of all the churches is probably the biggest, Basilica of St Francis. It is also the most visited, with coach trips heading here just to see the artwork here. I recall visiting while an art student at university, way back in February 1990. The temperature was slightly different then, I can tell you – think snow flurries and bitterly cold wind! I decided not to go back in, but did a fly by on the bike to remember how it looked.
As we returned to camp, the farmer and sosta manager pointed out his cat had a litter of four kittens needing good homes. They’re only a month old at the moment, so too young to adopt, but very adorable…no room for another cat in our life though, our Aussie Miss Tassie is still our most important fur child.
We settled down to a relaxing evening, enjoying the view as the lights turned on across Assisi.￼