How to Spend 1 Day in Assisi
Birthplace of St. Francis and one of the most atmospheric hill towns in Italy, Assisi is best-known for its magnificent Basilica of Saint Francis, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t the only reason to visit. Here’s how to experience Assisi’s captivating Roman ruins, medieval center, Franciscan sites, and local cuisine in just one day.
Morning: Saint Francis in Art
Assisi’s headliner is its 13th-century Basilica of Saint Francis, part of the massive hillside Sacro Convento friary complex, which can be seen from miles in any direction. Built over the saint’s tomb and lavishly decorated with late-medieval frescoes by Cimabue and Giotto, the upper and lower churches of the basilica are both pilgrimage site and de facto art museum, best appreciated with a guide first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive. Join a small-group or private tour of Assisi that begins with a stop here, or explore its art and architecture more in depth with a morning guided or audio tour focused exclusively on the basilica complex.
Afternoon: Assisi and the Life of Francis
After taking in the basilica dedicated to Francis, explore the hilltop town where the saint was born. Known as Asisium during ancient times, Assisi is home to a number of fine Roman ruins standing side-by-side with soaring Romanesque churches and humble Franciscan landmarks. Walking tours of the historic center touch on these highlights, including the Temple of Minerva, the New Church (Chiesa Nuova), and Basilica of Saint Clare. Those particularly curious about the life of the saint can opt for a tour that includes Franciscan sites such as the Porziuncola church and Eremo delle Carceri hermitage complex. Alternatively, choose a day trip that combines a tour of Assisi with Cortona, Perugia, or Passignano sul Trasimeno to explore farther afield.
Night: Food for Body (and Soul)
Assisi and its famous basilica may be a feast for the eyes, but now it’s time to satisfy the palate with this region’s excellent food and wine. Sit down for a tasting in a winery just outside the historic center to sample local wines paired with specialities such as extra-virgin olive oil, bruschetta, artisan cheeses, and traditional desserts. For a more hands-on experience, join a cooking class and learn how to make regional dishes such as antipasti and fresh pasta before sitting down to feast on the fruits of your labor.